Thursday, 28 April 2011

Horses for Courses

Hello everyone

I thought we could do a spot of horsing around today and take a closer look at sculptor Barbara Franc's magnificent horses in her first ever Scottish solo exhibition, "Diversity".

"Ride on a Fine Horse", steel wire, copper wire, tin and brass by Barbara Franc.
Barbara used to keep horses and even trained to be a riding instructor, so has always been fascinated by their power and physique. Barbara explains "the debt owed to them by humanity as the early fast vehicle of trade and conquest has always been a subject for artists since the dawn of time".

"Time Flies", steel wire & recycled material by Barbara Franc.
I wholly admire sculptors. Like many other painters, I find trying to create an accomplished image on 2D really's so difficult and taxing on the brain! However, to create something in 3D, so that it appears anatomically perfect, tactile and pleasing to the eye from all angles...that's mind blowing.
Here's another fine horse:

This is award artist Janet Melrose's horse toughing it out against the harsh winter of 2010/11.
As you can see he was well cared for with his blanket, and given plenty of scoff to keep him fit.
Nature is an incredible thing. It's hard to believe that under all that snow and frozen ice it was still working hard, working it's magic, and 3 months later provides us with joy like this:

We all welcome and enjoy the sights of the awesome blossoms, here we see it perfectly celebrated in:

"Birds on the Damson", acrylic on canvas by Janet Melrose.

Award winning artist Janet Melrose's first Edinburgh solo exhibition, "A Still Life", opens Thursday May 5th. GET VOTING AND GET VIEWING PEOPLE!

 Speak soon x

Friday, 22 April 2011

Bird Song

Hello everyone

I wanted to show you a very special guest in award winning sculptor Barbara Franc's solo exhibition, "Diversity".

This sweet little chap is called Edgar.
Edgar came to stay with Barbara Franc just before Christmas last year and proved to be quite an inspiration.
Barbara explains to me that crows in particular are very intelligent birds, and that it is not uncommon for them to turn to humans when in need. Sadly Edgar died peacefully of old age, but he was given a loving home in his dotage and Barbara naturally got very attached to him.

You can see why! What beautiful and trusting eyes. Birds are very intelligent and you can tell from this photo that Edgar felt safe and comfortable in his new surroundings.
Here he is lovingly immortalised:
"Black Crow", steel wire & recycled materials by Barbara Franc.

I already knew the touching story of Edgar and had seen the photos of this magnificent bird with the searching eyes. So I confess that when I unwrapped the above sculpture and saw his eyes staring back at me, it pulled the heart strings. Barbara Franc has captured Edgar's personality with great care: In the eyes alone she has given him soul and created a fitting tribute.
Thankfully, "Black Crow" now also has a loving home: as I've said before, I love happy endings :)

Previously I have posted blogs on artists and their studio cats and dogs. I think about the special bonds between humans and their faithful companions quite a lot. Personally, I'm an animal lover and if I'm painfully honest, sometimes I prefer the company of my pets to humans.
So, I will leave you with another touching story:

This is little Chirpie in the studio of award winning artist Janet Melrose. Janet's solo exhibition, "A Still Life" opens next month and promises to be an exhibition of real beauty and sensitivity. This photo was taken way back in the summer of 2009 and was an enlightening introduction to Janet Melrose and her work. Janet rescued little Chirpie as she was being relentlessly picked on by the rest of her flock. Being a baby and without Janet's careful observation and swift intervention, Chirpie would surely not have survived. However, lucky Chripie is now thriving and much like the story of Barbara Franc and Edgar, it reveals wonderful acts of kindness and character-a genuine love and respect for nature.

Wishing you all a lovely Easter....if you're passing by I can introduce you to Edgar personally!

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Incredible Journey

Hello All

Some of you may know that I popped down to London last weekend to collect the entire body of work for Barbara Franc's solo exhibition, 'Diversity'.  It was a pretty uneventful trip, apart from a spell of paranoia that every vehicle that came close to me was going to crash into the van and destroy all the beautiful sculpture in the back.  Needless to say, I managed to avoid that potential calamity.  It was certainly worth the trip, as I get to spend some time with this amazing work, and was able to make sure it arrived safely for everyone to see.  I also finally got to meet Barbara after all this time (we've been showing her work for over a year now).

I did stop for a break, however, at Carlisle Service Station, and I felt the need to release a few of the beasts for some fresh air:

'Time Flies' and 'Ride on a Fine Horse', grazing.
The presence of such fine beast in the dreary of the service station had a lovely calming and cheering effect on those who saw them, just as they do on everyone who comes into the gallery at the moment.

'Reynard' checking out the bins. And:

'Mischievous Magpie' trying to pinch someones burger (not mine!).

Eventually, once we had all had our break, we were on our way again and the result is:

A gallery full of truly outstanding sculpture that should not be missed.  I cannot recommend strongly enough that you all come in to see this wonderful exhibition...full of fun and tremendous skill.  Barbara Franc has been working on this, her first solo exhibition in Scotland, for over a year, and I guarantee that you will leave the gallery with a big grin and an invigorated spirit.

See you soon....

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Something Magical

"I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else". Pablo Picasso.

Barbara Franc solo exhibition, 'Diversity', coming soon..........

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Foxy Ladies!

Hello everyone

I hope you have all been out and about and enjoying the better weather!

This is a special blog as we have 2 very special exhibitions coming up at Union Gallery. April the 11th sees the arrival of award winning sculptor Barbara Franc's new work for her first Scottish solo exhibition, "Diversity". 30 new pieces of work, varying in scale and subject; all perfectly crafted; all simply brilliant. "Diversity" opens on Thursday, April 14th.

"Reynard" by Barbara Franc. Wire netting, steel wire and red oxide.
This stunning chap will be making a trip with all his other companions in a van all the way from London. By the time he reaches Edinburgh, he will be one well travelled fox. I can't wait to meet him!

"Reynard". Profile.
There is much to admire in Barbara's work. I am always amazed by her care and attention to detail. There's as much love and commitment in the small scale works as there is in the larger sculptures. We are always being force-fed the importance of recycling, so I'm sure you will agree, that this is an inspired and ingenious form of recycling.
Barbara was rather modest about making her debut on the blog. However, Newton, her studio cat was more than happy to represent her:

I often think that foxes get an awful lot of bad press. Considered as vermin and a pest to many, I personally believe and I think both artists Barbara Franc and Janet Melrose (who's solo exhibition will be in May) would agree with me, that there is much to admire in them. Of course they are 'cunning', but they are so much more than that. I think they are beautiful and mysterious, inquisitive and intelligent animals. As the modern day world relentlessly encroaches on their natural habitats, they have adapted like the true survivors they are, and I find them welcome visitors to our cities. They are, after all, merely scraping by and surely deserve their place in natures grand plan.
So here is award winning artist Janet Melrose:

Sporting those 'famous' dungarees, I admire Janet's no nonsense and unglamorous approach to her vocation. I'm sure many artists will recognise this 'there's work to be done' attitude. Forget image, the work comes first.

"Spot the Fox", acrylic on canvas.
This painting was given a home in a heart beat. However there will be other foxes appearing in Janet Melrose's solo exhibition "A Still Life", as the fox motif is a recurring theme in her work.
"A Still Life" opens on May 5th, and I canny wait!

Have a great weekend all x

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Windswept and Interesting

Hello everyone

I trust that you were all good to your mummies on Sunday!
I was.  Indeed my ma's special present looked the business wrapped up in Jenny Matthews wrapping paper:

So we are into the final week of 'Making Waves' and, being partial to a bit of sea painting myself, this exhibition really 'floats my boat' as they say.  I wanted to highlight a few of the treasures on display.  Lets start with this:

'White Water', acrylic on board, by Hazel Cashmore.
I would have liked to have spent more time admiring all that is great about 'White Water', but the pround new owner couldn't wait to get it home.  When I looked at this beauty, I could almost hear the crash of the waves and the fizz of the foam on rocks.  I loved how the sea was spilling out of the paining.  Enegmatic and energetic, as are all of Hazel Cashmore's paintings.

'Sandwood, Summer', mixed media, by Beth Robertson Fiddes.
This is an impressive and brilliantly executed painting by Beth Robertson Fiddes.  Legendary Sandwood Bay, with all its mysticism and breathtaking scenery has been captured perfectly by Beth.  There's some very clever collage work going on here and if you view the painting from a certain angle, it's almost a 3D painting!  Come in, and I will position you.

'Five Boats', mixed media, by Nikki Monaghan.
The relaxing pleasure of observing boats gently bobbing in a harbour, brilliantly observed by Nikki Monaghan.

'Cellardykes', oil on cotton board, by Ian Rwnsley.
 Fife boasts some beautiful coastline, and Cellardykes is a well known attraction.  The village is known locally as 'Sillerdyke' - a reference to the sun glistening on fishscales on the nets as they dry on the harbour walls.

'Stonehaven', oil on cotton board, by Ian Rawnsley.   
A favourite of mine, there is such softness and subtlety in this painting.
Lets end with a: 

'Splash', gouache, by Dorothy Bruce.  
Great title, great painting. Dorothy lives on the Isle of Cumbrae, and in this painting there are actual grains of sane from the beaches there.  You may not be able to see that in the image above, so I highly recommend that you pop in abd appreciate it at first hand.

Speak soon. 

Friday, 1 April 2011

A Dog's Life

Hello eveyone

I recently posted a blog as a nod to all the studio cats out there - past and present.
As promised, now it's time for the hounds. They say that dogs age 7 years in comparison to us humans, so for the purposes of this blog, I've tried to narrow it down to 7 lucky pooches.  I apologise in advance to any 4 legged friends I have not included....I may have let an extra one or two slip in.
As with the pussy blog, I will start with my own:

Spring Hippo! Many of you will already be familiar with Tommy ('Tickles') the boxer. He's a loving and loyal companion who is aprroaching his twilight years. Everyday with Tommy is a blessing now. He's getting a bit older and has a touch of arthritis, so he needs some extra TLC.  At Union Gallery we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a bespoke knitted jumper c/o artist Hannah Haworth. Thanks Hannah!
Tommy is from Boxer Welfare Scotland. If you want to give a squishy face a new home then take a look:

Hmm. This is Harry the insane Dalmation. Harry is also 'recycled'. Indeed, we are Harry's 4th owners at the tender age of 3. Although it's been hard work and realistically Harry is not allowed a single spot inside my studio, I love him dearly for his madness. Remember the golden rule; "a dog is for life not just for Christmas". All that's spotty is not all fairytales and 102 Dalmations!
All the way from NYC:

This is Cocoa, studio companion and (sometimes) model to artist, sculptor and knitting genius Hannah Haworth. Here she is modeling that coveted jumper. Cocoa is also a rescue dog and I think she has landed on her paws being taken in by someone like Hannah.

Lovely Leda, compadre of deadly talented artist Dylan Lisle. I had the honour of having my face licked off by Leda just the other night whilst discussing Dylan's next exhibition in 2012.'s going to be incredible!
Next up:

The back ends of Pip & Oscar! These 2 beautiful pointers are a continuing source of inspiration (and exasperation) to award winning artist Janet Melrose. This photo was taken on a recent studion visit in preperation for Janet's solo exhibition "A Still Life", in May.'s also going to be stunning and some wise early birds are already pecking around.
Nearly ending on this fella:

This is Rufus, sporting his winter coat. Another model, companion and inpiration to award winning sculptor Barabara Franc. HINT....Barbara Franc's first solo exhibition in Scotland, "Diversity", opens on Thursday 14th April, interest is high and I can guarantee that you won't see another exhibition like this. A huge thanks in advance to Barbara for all her hard work.

Ending with this fella:

This is Humphrey. I have a soft spot for 'Humfs' as I affectionatley call him.....and his master. He is constant studio companion to figurative artist Frank McNab, who I visited recently to have a look at his compelling work. You can take a closer look at Frank's work here:

Incidentally, if you don't come in and see the excellent work in the current exhibition "Making Waves" then you'd be barking mad!

Signing off......Cruella De Vil.....