I have a confession to make.
I've never really been a great fan of still life painting. There, I've said it. But please don't shoot me down in flames just yet, or accuse me of being 'elitist'. I'm simply being honest, and I'm not going to apologise for being proud of seeking out the best of the best for your perusal.
As an artist and gallery owner my palette and tastes spread pretty wide, but for some reason still life paintings have never seemed to cut the mustard for me. Perhaps it goes back to boring art lessons at school, or maybe it's because there are an awful lot of 'questionable' examples out there that simply do nothing for me. Either way, as a gallerist I knew this was the wrong attitude to take to an art form that has been around as long as the hills, and that it was my duty to find the right artist to change my opinion, and possibly that of others.
This issue came to a head with UG's 'Not So Still' exhibition in March 2010, which showcased the diverse and extraordinary talents of 5 painters whose work certainly went a long way to changing my mind.
Here I am hanging that exhibition, and judging from the look of concentration in my face the still lifes were already beginning to work their magic on me. There was one artist in particular whose work really opened my eyes, and whose work gave me everything that I had previously thought was lacking in the humble still life - and so much more.
That artist was Cathy Campbell, whose gorgeous solo exhibition is currently blessing the walls of Union Gallery. For me, Cathy Campbell's work, through years of observation and experience with paint and brush, makes the everyday seem etherial and sublime. It is heartbreakingly good and perhaps offers us a metaphor for human life - these are all familiar objects that we can recognise and connect with.
'The Odd Couple', oil on board, by Cathy Campbell.
I know that it's not just me that responds to Cathy's work in this way: I've seen it time and time again during this exhibition. It's not every day that paintings draw a gasp from those looking at them, yet Cathy's work is doing just that. Her paintings strike a chord and stir emotions in all who see them.
I'm sure it's no coincidence that Cathy Campbell's work is often bought by individuals to mark an important occasion - newly weds, as a retiremnet gift and, on a couple of occasions, with money inherited through the passing of a loved one. I get it completely: what could be a more fitting way to remember a special moment or person than to acquire an exquisite, medative painting to look at and really appreciate?
'East Window', oil on board, by Cathy Campbell.
So I'm going to end by saying that Cathy's work is not in any way attempting to make grandiose statements or to be at all 'faddy'. Her work is simply a great, bloody good example of how to paint, and I salute her for this.
Come in and see for yourself.