Sunday, 22 December 2013

Winter Wonderlands

Hello everyone

With Christmas just round the corner and with folks (hopefully) winding down, I thought it would be nice to look at some popular festive and winter scenes.

We have to begin with this:

I adore 'The Hunters in the Snow' by Pieter Bruegel.
Probably less well know, but arguably just as beautiful is:

'Evening Snow on Fuji' by Utagawa Toyokuni.
There are so many lovey winter paintings from Japan.

'Winter landscape with skaters' by Hendrick Avercamp.
Being mute Avercamp lived in a silent world of his own. It is said that he enjoyed painting these winter scenes with skaters as it reminded him of happy times with his parents.
Extra turkey for anyone who can spot the bare bottom!

'Train in the Snow' by Claude Monet.
Monet strikes again:

'Grainstacks, Snow Effect'. Just one painting from the twenty five series in which Monet observed the changes in the haystacks from summer to the following spring.

'Avenue in the Snow' by Edvard Munch.
I much prefer this painting to his most famous creation, 'The Scream'.....controversial!!

It just wouldn't be right not to include 'The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch' by Sir Henry Raeburn.
Kept here in Edinburgh in The National Gallery of Scotland, this is one of Scotland's most famous paintings and is considered ground breaking for combining traditional portraiture with movement of the figure.
Leaving you with a slightly more obscure masterpiece:

There's something not quite right about Boticelli's shell here!

Wishing you all a warm and happy Christmas and for a sparkling 2014 
x x

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Puppy Love!!

Hello everyone,

with Christmas just round the corner I'm being kept very busy here at UG headquarters.
I haven't had much time to think of something intelligent to write on the blog, so in the meantime I shall keep you entertained with some random, but highly amusing photos of my hounds sent to me by my lovely niece with who they are currently lodging.

Dennis (the menace) doing his cute look.

Harry (spotty pants) our insane Dalmation with yet another crazed expression!
Leaving you with this:

Dennis the menace in camouflage! I'm biased I know, but he is adorable!

Hurry back for more nonsense soon x

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Various Visitors I

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introducing the lovely Betty Giblin!

Nice to meet you and your family.
Alison x

Saturday, 7 December 2013


Hello everyone,

Whilst doing the dishes the other morning I was thinking about some of the extraordinary art currently showing in the Christmas Exhibition. It occurred to me that, by chance, there's something of a threesome going on. For example:

'Trinity', non tarnish silver coated copper wire, collected dove feathers, abalone shell by Marcela Trsova.
A very beautiful installation which casts the most delicate shadows that dance on the walls.

'See no Fish, Here no Fish, Catch no Fish', acrylic on canvas by James Newton Adams.
I love their bright yellow, rubbery gloves.

'Three Sisters', digital painting by Kevin Low.
Otherworldly and enchanting, the attention to detail in the girl's clothes is very touching.

'Three Blind Mice' oil on panel by Dylan Lisle.
An impressive and powerful triptych that depicts his subjects with mind boggling detail.

'Waiting for The Tide', finest lead-free pewter on olivewood by Carl Newman.
There's nothing lovelier than a nice piece of wood, so tactile and I love how the wood grain mimics the tidelines in the sand.

So as you can see there's something for everyone in UG's 2013 Christmas Exhibition. If 3 is your lucky number then perhaps this selection might appeal to you.

Have a great weekend all!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Christmas Is Coming!

The Countdown to Christmas begins!
And we have a real cracker of an exhibition for you!

Hope you can all make it in to feast your eyes on this :)

Saturday, 16 November 2013


Hello everyone

The Barbara Franc mania continues here at UG which explains why this blog has been a little quiet of's been super busy round these parts!

As some of you will know Barbara has made some amazing, mischievous red squirrels as part of her Menagerie solo exhibition so I thought we'd take a look at 3 of my all time favourites.
Lets start with this little fella:

'Plain and Jam', steel wire and recycled decorative tins by Barbara Franc.
He is christened such by the biscuits tins that make up much of his perfectly sculpted body.
I adore the tiny snowflake motif on his paws and tail.
And this speedy little girl:

'Yellow Flower', steel wire and recycled decorative tins by Barbara Franc.
I think you can probably see how she got her name. It's funny, it's not just me that can tell by looking at a piece wither it's a boy or girl. Lots of gallery visitors refer to Barbara's animals as she or he. You can just tell! It's a credit to Barbara's skill that she can give each piece such character and personality.
Last but definitely by no means least:

'Tea Leaf', steel wire and recycled decorative tins by Barbara Franc.
I just adore this little guy. He sits in the window and gets so much attention. He's a cheeky chap who looks like he's in a hurry, possibly because he's just pinched someone else's nuts? I'm particularly fond of his flowery, red legs.
'Tea Leaf' is also Barbara's favourite squirrel and I can't understand why he's not got a home yet.
I'm confident he will though, so in the meantime I just enjoy watching his mischievous manner.

Leaving you with this:

They say a picture says a thousand words and I do believe this lovely photo says a lot about how people are reacting to Barbara's incredible creations.

Have a great weekend all!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


The Menagerie is coming!

Featured here are 'Yellow Flower', 'Work of Art' and 'Cafe Creme' and are just 3 of the fabulous creations Barbara Franc has made for her solo exhibition.

TIP: This is a MUST SEE exhibition!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Fingal's Cave

Hello everyone,
'Fingal's Cave' by Felix Mendelssohn


'Staffa', mixed media, by Beth Robertson Fiddes

Two breathtaking works of art on the same subject.  What more could you want?

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Making Waves

Hello everyone,

There is much to get excited about when viewing our current exhibition, the Beth Robertson Fiddes Solo Exhibition, and all of those who have seen it so far have been overwhelmed by her beautiful, dramatic landscapes.  One recurring comment we are hearing is that Beth clearly loves the landscape she is painting - it positively radiates from the work.  Surely that, above all else, is a sign of a successful painting.  Viewers are also moved by her commitment to her work - drawing in situ, hiking for miles with all her equipment and camping out to find the best light to capture.  The results are simply stunning.

This commitment to her practice is exemplified in the three beautiful 'wave' paintings that have been so admired in the last two weeks.

'Summer Shore', mixed media on panel, by Beth Robertson Fiddes.

The creation of this exhibition has been exasperated by Beth suffering for much of this year with a trapped nerve in her back, which at times has made painting very difficult.  These paintings, of the beach on the tiny Outer Hebridean island of Berneray, were painted at just such a time.  Beth had gone to Berneray to relax and rest her painful back, and was lying on the beach when she saw the ripples and waves from a viewpoint that she had never seen before. And the result is these remarkable paintings:

'Berneray Waves', mixed media on panel, by Beth Robertson Fiddes.

Now we may all think we've seen waves like this before, but would anyone other than an artist with the creative flair and talent of Beth have had the skill to sketch them on the spot and to turn them into such powerful work?  I think not.

'Clear Water, Berneray', mixed media on panel, by Beth Robertson Fiddes.

I do hope you all manage to see this extraordinary exhibition - I guarantee it will be worth it.


Friday, 11 October 2013

Call of the Mountains

"Thousands of tired, nerve - shaken, over- civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.."
John Muir.

'Suilven', mixed media on panel by Beth Robertson Fiddes.

'Towards Stac Polliadh', mixed media on panel by Beth Robertson Fiddes.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Beth Robertson Fiddes Solo Exibition

This October, award-winning Beth Robertson Fiddes is showing us how to move mountains at UG.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Coupled Up

Hello everyone,

This weekend and next Monday offer you a last chance to see our lovely Autumn Exhibition before it makes way for the stunning Beth Robertson Fiddes Solo Exhibition.

One of the things that you'll find if you get here over the weekend, is a number of 'couple-related' paintings - quite an unusual turn of events for UG.
For Example:

'Burton' and 'Taylor', acrylic and collage on panel, by Colin Brown.


'Mr.' and 'Mrs.', oil on panel, by Dylan Lisle.

Maybe there's something in the air, or maybe it's just great, imaginative work by some great artists, but whichever, we are delighted to see such exceptional work in the gallery.  After all, who can resist the wonderfully sensitive and delicate charms of Joyce Gunn Cairns MBE's works, such as:


'Mutual Regard', oil and pencil on card.

Don't miss the chance to see all this talent yourselves - Monday is the deadline.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Height of Sophistication

Hello everyone,

In my last blog I promised we would take a closer look at something fishy in our Autumn exhibition.
Here it is:

'See no Fish, Hear no Fish, Catch no Fish', acrylic on canvas by James Newton Adams.

OK, so the fishermen might look a little comical with their big yellow gloves and rubbery red overalls, but James Newton Adams is making reference to the very serious issue of the declining fishing industry in Scotland. I love the glum expressions of their faces.

And there's more:

'Mallaig Fishermen' acrylic on canvas by James Newton Adams.

Now this is a painting I really wanted to take a closer look at!
I have often heard people refer to James as a 'niave' or 'primitive' painter. Yes there is a deliberate stylising of the figures, which in themselves appear childlike, and that of course is part of the appeal of James' work, but there's so much more to his work and this is a brilliant example of it.
There is nothing primitive about James' techniques as an artist: indeed every mark on his paintings is premeditated, skillfully rendered.

Just look at that fisherman's head!
In what seems to be an awkward and anatomically impossible face, the gruelling and relentless conditions which he has endured for many years are etched on his chiseled features.
It's so authentic you can practically smell him!
I also really enjoy the movement in this painting. The composition is clever, chopping up the canvas to mimic the choppy seas on which it's all 'niavely' balanced.
It is a buoyant and brilliant painting.

Come back soon to catch more marvels of the Autumn Exhibition :)

Monday, 16 September 2013

It's In your DNA

Hello everyone

We are particularly excited to have new work by Sophie McKay Knight on exhibition just now.
You can see why:

'DNA', acrylic and screenprint on canvas, by Sophie McKay Knight.

And my personal favourite:

'The Equation', mixed media on canvas, by Sophie McKay Knight.

A closer look reveals these paintings are not just pretty faces: just under the skin you can see the figures' DNA, their very make up, as Sophie McKay Knight says:

My work has always been based on the human figure. I am inspired by the things that make up a whole person, and what/where their sense of self comes from. This means I incorporate many things into my paintings - I 'collect' images of people from everywhere; often remembering a scene I have witnessed, sometimes responding to a fictional or historical character. I am interested in storytelling, everyday magic, memory and reflections.
As well as depicting the outside of the body, I have also become very interested in what happens inside the body & mind - the idea that genes and DNA partly make up who we are and where we have come from. I recently secured funding from Fife Contemporary Art & Craft to pursue a project called 'Human Self' and to create a new body of work surrounding these issues. I will essentially be exploring the nature/nurture debate through my work, focusing on local children and their families' thoughts on the concept of 'inheritance'.
SMK September 2013.

Looking at these figures I can't help but thinking the girls look a little lost, possible in need of some love and comfort.  All the more reason, then, for us to be thrilled that young 'Maya' here will be going to a loving home all the way over in Dubai:

'Maya', acrylic on canvas, by Sophie McKay Knight.

Have a great weekend all and hurry back to take a closer look at something a bit fishy in the exhibition.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Little Nipper

The first spring-loaded mouse trap was invented by William C. Hooker of Abingdon, Illinois, who received US patent 528671 for his design in 1894. James Henry Atkinson, a British inventor who in 1897 invented a prototype called the "Little Nipper", probably had seen the Hooker trap in the shops or in advertisements and used it as the basis of his model. It is a simple device with a heavily spring-loaded bar and a trip to release it. The design is such that the mouse's neck or spinal cord will be broken, or its ribs or skull crushed, by the force of the bar. 
Simple, brutal, but effective.

'Three Blind Mice' oil on panel by Dylan Lisle.

Three blind mice, three blind mice,
See how they run, see how they run,
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a thing in your life
As three blind mice?

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Here Comes Autumn!

Hello everyone,

It might be a bit more Indian Summer than a typical Autumn, but hey, who's complaining?

All the more reason to get out and about and enjoy the fine weather!

Join us for a glass of something lovely and enjoy some cracking artworks:


Meet Joyce Gunn Cairns' 'Hello Dolly' painting. It's just a bit special :)

See you soon.....

Saturday, 24 August 2013

A Moving Experience

Hello everyone,

There are many aspects to our current solo exhibition, Kevin Low: the Pleasures of Nature, that I would consider to be a great success, not least the fact that visitors to the gallery have embraced and actually celebrated Kevin's use of technology to create his stunning images.  Of course, to many people digital painting is easy to understand and appreciate.  For me, however, and for many others it would seem, the whole concept has taken some getting used to, and I am sure that it is the success of Kevin's imagery that has helped me embrace it along with our more enlightened viewers.

For in terms of the art itself, this is Kevin Low's  genius.  He is a natural and consummate story-teller, and most of his paintings do have a story behind them, yet so many people find that his works draw them into comparisons with their own experience, and so give the paintings a personal, even intimate, character.  Very, very clever.

I know I'm not alone in this: one of the lucky buyers of this:

'Her Father's Things', digital painting, by Kevin Low.
had their interest sparked initially by their fanatical collecting of blue & white china.  And, although Kevin's story behind this is to do with three of his cousins:

'Three Sisters', digital painting, by Kevin Low.
we had a visitor who was adamant that it was about their family, and wondered how Kevin knew about them.

For me, there are many paintings in this exhibition that I love, and I know that the Dawkins household is going to have wait just a wee bit longer for its new boiler as a few find their way to our walls.  However, there is one that has had a particular resonance with me:

'Making Plans', digital painting, by Kevin Low.
This painting immediately brought to mind my time at boarding school in the middle of Dartmoor.  If that sounds bleak, then you've got the right impression: cold, windswept, isolated and, this being the 1970's and early '80's, very little by way of protection or rule of law apart from when you got caught smoking - which I regularly did!  Something about the boy with a bag on his head, sitting on his bed, made me think of school and touched me.  His vunerability is quite moving, but the fact that he is 'Making Plans' implies that he is no victim.  School wasn't all bad as long as you managed to put a metaphorical bag over your head and, of course, made your plans for escape

Speak soon.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Happy Birthday

Hello everyone,

We at Union Gallery would like to wish a happy birthday to the youngest visitor to the preview of Kevin Low's amazing exhibition, 'The Pleasures of Nature':


There's a little something waiting for you in the gallery: