Thursday, 10 December 2009

Calming, Inspiring & Uplifting

Hello everyone! I just wanted to say a bit more about the beautiful paintings of Janet Melrose which are currently on display in the gallery. I have to say the Christmas Exhibition is really stunning: a lot of top drawer work here.  I actually found myself sneaking in early on Sunday morning just so I could be with the paintings - perk of the job!
Janet's current work is based on the comings and goings that occur in her own walled garden, and the work appeals to me on many levels. I adore the tiny brids that feature in many of the pieces just as I love watching the birds that visit my own garden. It just shows there's so much goes on under our very noses.They are painted in a style that captures these fleeting, joyful, moments. It was this observation that inspired me to attempt to photograph some of the wildlife that I notice when out and about with the gallery hounds.

The image below is a detail from "Evening", showing a tiny but perfectly formed Chaffinch....I think. No doubt Janet will correct me if I have this wrong!

I didn't have much success with my nature photography. I always knew it was going to be a tough call with my remedial camera skills and I realise now that the presence of the gallery hounds crashing around was scaring every bird within a 10 mile radius. I did, however, manage to snap a few ducks who clearly knew my mutts can't swim.

I also managed this sorry attempt at snapping a Willow Tree by the Water of Leith.

Again Janet has done a better job at capturing the subject matter in the image below, which is a detail from "Underneath the Willows".

This is another detail from "Autumn on the banking".

So delicate and well observed.
We visited Janet's studio back in the summer as I wanted to see first hand her studio space. I knew it would be an important factor in her work, as it has indeed turned out to be. We were introduced to her own dogs, Pip & Oscar who also feature in her work and are constant companions when Janet works. Obviously they behave better than mine.

This is Pip patrolling his grounds. We were also introduced to "Chirpie", the hen that Janet rescued as she was being bullied and rejected by the other hens. I though that was so sweet! Chirpie was pretty cute and clearly enjoying her new, safer life. Having experimented with my nature shots, I now have even more admiration for Janet's work as I can appreciate the practical difficulties involved. Her subjects, the birds and dogs, are constantly on the move and of course, the birds in are so tiny. I will also say that Janet's work is the finest example of what I call a "less is more" style; the end result being a beautiful and delicate balance of getting it just so. The process of painting like this is quite stressful, it's the kind of work where one false move would be so obvious and ruin the work.
I also came across this winter blossom whilst out and about. This brave soul comes out in November and flowers right through to February. I think flower painter Jenny Matthews might like it.

This blossom also has a really lovely, delicate fragrance and in January I often make a point of seeking it out for an uplifting sniff! I can sometimes find January hard work after all the glizt and sparkle of Chritsmas has passed. It can seem really dark and gloomy.

Of course I'm not going to have that problem this year! That's because Union Gallery's January exhibition is something a bit special. Featuring the work of exceptional artists Olivia Irvine and Fiona Jappy, I am sure I will find myself sneaking in early more often to get an inspiring lift. Here's a quick preview!

"Reception" by Olivia Irvine.

"Wanderer" by Fiona Jappy.
Very beautiful, I am sure you will agree. Both Fiona and Olivia have worked incredibly hard for this exhibition and I can't wait to see it finally on the walls! If you find you are in need of a spot of colour in January you are very welcome to come in to be inspired too.

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