Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Autumn Watch II

Howdy partners!

So Autumn has well and truly taken hold and with today being a particularly windy day here in Edinburgh, I have enjoyed watching all the golden leaves dancing along the pavements and footpaths.

If you need an inspirational fix this week, I highly recommend you come in and see "Landmarks II"'s the last week and I believe this to be one of our most beautiful exhibitions to date.

Here is a little tempter:

"Seilebost Rain" by Beth Robertson Fiddes.
This is a really special piece, again there's some collage work that you can't pick out from this jpeg. You have to see the real thing to appreciate it fully.

More comings and goings at Union Gallery of late:

A working lunch. All round creative giant Stewart Bremner (paintings, photography, websites and videos!) pops in to coach me on how to make a beetroot curry.....I have specific instructions. Surely even I cannot mess this up?!
Leaving you with this:

Yes, it's scary season again so if you visit the gallery over the weekend we shall be offering some pretty terrifying treats. That's right very own home baking!!!

Speak soon

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Good News!

Hello everyone

Have a wee listen to this:

Edward Dolman is the chairman of Christies who recently sold an important Picasso painting for £34.7 million, setting a new record for a work of art sold at auction. As with Giacometti's "Walking Man" earlier on in the year, I narrowly missed out on my bid.

Earlier in the week the BBC were reporting form a gallery currently showing the work of Timmy Mallett. Again, they discussed how art is increasingly becoming an attractive investment in these challenging times.

Sadly, I do not represent Picasso, and I'm pretty sure there are no Mallets in here! However, there are some extremely fine yet powerful paintings on display in the current exhibition, Landmarks II.

Take a look:

On the back wall is the work of 3rd year ECA student Martyn McKenzie who I have a lot of admiration for.
I think he has a very intuitive style which is quite a mature skill in an artist. He has great control of the paint and I think could give me a run for my money on the old landscape front! When he talks about his work he does so with sincerity and conviction. At only 22 I think Martyn is going to be a very special painter.

Have a good weekend all x

Monday, 18 October 2010


Hello everyone

Although I'm a die-hard fan of sculpture, drawing and painting, I do often think that some conceptual and installation art can be very beautiful and powerful...when done well.

For me, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's "Sunflower Seeds", currently showing at the Tate Modern, is ticking all the boxes! The work consists of 100 million individually made porcelain sunflower seeds.

So I was very disappointed to hear that officials at Tate Modern have decided to stop visitors walking on "Sunflower Seeds", believing it be a possible health hazard. I feel really sorry for the artist Ai Weiwei, and all the others involved (it turns out that each of the 100 million seeds were hand painted), as the interaction with the work is clearly a fundamental part of the experience. It still is a very special piece of work, I just think it's sad that its chances of being a brilliant and iconic work have been taken away.

The officials at Tate are concerned that people walking over the work will cause "dust clouds" that could be damaging to health. Hmmm....there are a couple of things here: 1. Surely you would need to inhale an awful lot of the dust and do so for a prolonged period of time for it to cause any harm? 2. Could they not just had out white dust masks, which you can pick up for pennies at B&Q, to anyone concerned?

Ai Weiwei and his "Sunflower Seeds".

The timing of this is also rotten. Anyone working within the Arts will be feeling nervous about this week's Government spending/slashing review. It's a foregone conclusion that the arts will get shafted.
Having said that, the Tate officials will be relying on good old Ai Weiwei and his humble sunflower seeds to pull in the crowds. With these record breaking numbers comes money: money that will benefit the economy and surrounding businesses. Much like here in Edinburgh, The National Galleries' exhibition of the Impressionist Gardens has been pulling in the crowds. These visitors will benefit the whole city. Art has its uses.

The scenario at Tate Modern got me thinking about The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The Spanish have got it right! The Sagrada Familia is visited by masses every single day and is effectively a building site. The difference is that you are encouraged to get in amongst it all. There's not a safety helmet in sight available to visitors and as for the just adds to the experience. The officials at the Tate would be having kittens at the sight of the bulldozers, but the Spanish adore Antoni Gaudi and the Sagrada Familia has become a temple to this incredible man.

Myself and some other excited visitors at The Sagrada Familia a few years back. Look at all those bags of scary dust on the ground!! They say the last brick will be laid in 2026. What a momentous day that will be.
I feel better now I've got that off my chest.....the dust is beginning to settle.

Speak soon x

Friday, 15 October 2010

Autumn Watch

Hello everyone

As always a warm welcome to our latest blog follower - hope you are well.

Continuing on the Autumn theme folks, I think I mentioned previously that this is my favourite time of the year to be out in the landscape. Autumn is a landscape painters paradise: amazing cloud formations, glittering light and enriched, enhanced colours.
I'm itching to be out in the wilderness currently, however meantime I am content with my usual stomping ground - Inverleith Park. In between throwing balls and scooping dog poo, I was amazed by this:

Ok, it's been amateurishly and hurriedly snapped, but I hope you "get the picture" (apologies for another feeble joke). I can categorically assert that the sky has not been enhanced or tickled with in any way....that's beyond my capabilities. Seeing this sky immediately made me think of:

"Morning of the Autumn Equinox". An exceptional and eerie painting by award winning artist Philip Braham.
We will see more of Philip's work next year....will keep you posted.

I have to confess to being annoyed with myself for not managing a couple of pieces of my own for "Landmarks II". I knew all the work coming in was going to be superb, but seeing it all hanging together, it really is quite beautiful. I would have loved to be a part of it. Take a look at this:

"Winter Solstice in the Strath" by Hazel Cashmore.
All the way from Thurso, Hazel Cashmore's latest paintings are truly gorgeous. I've been studying her "land meets sky" precision- and she really is the expert. I have also realised that, apart from the brilliant painterly qualities, she is also an expert with colour. These are colourful paintings, yet Hazel's discerning eye and control ensures they are never "shocking" or over the top. Her paintings are both dramatic and sexy, not to mention well observed.

Speaking of drama:

"Big Buachaille" by Beth Robertson Fiddes.
Wow....big skies, roaming mountains, it surely doesn't get better than this?
Of course I want you to come in and see all the paintings for real. This piece for example has exquisite collage work that you can't see here.

Next up. We will be taking a look at 3rd year ECA drawing and painting student, Martyn McKenzie. He's really, very good!!

Have a good weekend.....

Monday, 11 October 2010

Comings & Goings

Hello everyone

Pretty busy here in Galleria Del Fuego so I haven't had much time to compose anything intellegent about the current exhibition, Landmarks II. Suffice it to say its stunning and you should get in here for a look!

For now I'm just going to post a few images of the comings and goings in and around the gallery of late. Enjoy.

Congratulations to artist Laura Homoky who is expecting her second child. Glamerous as ever, she is now sporting a mini bump :)

Union Gallery hound, Tommy, oversees proceedings as we hang the Landmarks II show.

The other Union Gallery hound, Harry....being rather less helpfull.

Like a child on Christmas morning....I couldn't wait to unpack the top notch work of brillaint landscape painter Hazel Cashmore.
Jamie McGrigor MSP, like many others, is suitably impressed by the skills of artist Beth Robertson Fiddes.
A confident, conservative point Jamie.  (And you still owe me a fag!).

The time has come to ackowledge the efforts of gallery supporter Stewart Reid. Mr & Mrs Reid have attended every one of the gallery's openings and their enthusiasm has not gone unnoticed. I feel really honoured and chuffed that every month they come to visit us and see the new work. THANK YOU x
A recent gallery visitor told me he thought I looked like Tracey Emin. Naturally I protested, however looking at this photo I'm not so sure!!
Leaving you with this

Thank you to the kind soul who posted this through my letter box. I thought you might like to know that I have named my new chesnut friend Bert.

Bye for now

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Hello Everyone

The gallery is closed for the next couple of days as we are preparing for the opening of our next exhibition, Landmarks II. Of course, if you are passing and want a little peak just tap on the window.

So leaving you with this gorgeous symbol of Autumn. I'm sure I am not alone in finding Autumn the most insipiring time of the year for the landscape: nothing beats a ramble out in the country on a crisp day to see the leaves turning and the blue skys. If you need further inspiration (or if the sky is not so blue), then I recommend you visit the gallery over the month of October. It's the perfect exhibition for this very special time of the year.

LANDMARKS II: Opens Thursday 7th.
Speak soon x

Friday, 1 October 2010

"The Rears of the Charging Chasseurs"

Hello everyone

I have named this entry as a nod to one of favourite paintings in Derek McGuire's exhibition Ella Novo Loco.

I remember seeing this painting in Derek's studio for the first time and the effect it had on me. It's difficult to describe, other than it being a bit like a slap in the face. There was an immediate feeling of total respect and an almost fear of just how good this painting is.

There is still time to come in and view this exhibition of 24 paintings. Some are dark and challenging, even unsettling. Others are humorous and intimate, touching on subjects that should concern us all. Each brilliant piece has merits of its own: I am not sure an exhibition gets much better than this.
To me, this exhibition has been a real eye opener and I have learned a lot from artist Derek McGuire, seen below (left) during the hanging of his exhibition:

Working with Derek, listening to his ideas and being in the very privileged position of seeing the works progress, has been an extraordinary experience. At times I have been fizzing with enthusiasm about the work and sometimes I have felt down and inadequate as an artist when observing his skill.
I also find it hard to disguise my disappointment that his exhibition, despite a hefty campaign, has not been reviewed. Indeed, I think it's a travesty and my real fear is that in this increasingly 'celeb' obsessed culture, real talent might be overlooked. I'm convinced that had just one art critic worth their salt stepped over the threshold, they would not have been disappointed and I'm pretty damn sure they wouldn't have seen anything like it before. Something new, meaningful and original to write about.....surely only a good thing?

On the plus side, this exhibition has been one of our best attended and most successful to date, with large numbers of people coming to view the work. Buying clients, art lovers, other artists and throngs of Derek's students have all been in to see the work, and all have an opinion. There is no doubt that Ella Novo Loco has polarised opinion - it is challenging work that inevitably has that effect - but then surely there is a need for controversy and debate in contemporary art?
It is a pleasure to be challenged and even threatened by the workings of a great talent occassionally, and I have witnessed both joy and serious argument about Derek's paintings this month, and enjoyed every minute of it.

Speak soon