Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Well dressed blog!

Hello everyone
This blonde bombshell is my good friend and horse jumper extraordinaire, Jude Carrie. She was absoultely tickled....well, blue.... at Fiona Jappy's gorgeous paintings. Being a gifted person herself she fully appreciated Fiona's sophisticated and classy palette. It matched her smart coat perfectly.

I then pointed out to her Fiona's own coat as seen below:

Which features in:

"She had been away" by Fiona Jappy.  Happy Birthday, by the way, Fiona!
So now I thought I would show you this smart little number....

This gorgeous vintage swing coat dates back to the 60's and was artist Olivia Irvine's coat when she was a little girl. I undersatnd that one of her daughters can still get it on and models it for Olivia. You may recognise it in the following piece:

Perfectly observed in "Rosalida Revisited" by Olivia Irvine.

I mentioned before that Olivia's studio is a bit like a treasure chest. You keep finding bits and pieces, or clues about Olivia's research. I got excited when I spotted these two items.....


Which I instantly recognised from the following treasure of a painting:

Detail from a "Perfect Spot" by Olivia Irvine.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Behind The Scenes

Hello everyone
I had a lovely visit from award winning artist Olivia Irvine the other day. She had just purchased her latest batch of tempera pigments and was on route to buy the eggs to bind it with. I thought you might like to see the tempera, or what I like to refer to as "the magic fairy dust", in it's raw state. Sadly I was unable to provide an image of the eggs in a raw state.
Here they are:

Delicious colour choice!
Anyway, Olivia had purchased these because she was holding a demonstration class on the ancient technique. As I said before, Olivia is regarded as an expert on the practice.....many people pay money to get the inside know-how.
 I also thought you might like to see some of the behind the scenes working drawings that help construct a final painting. I think it's exciting and interesting for visitors to be exposed to the thought process that goes into a work of art, and not just the final "product".

This was obviously used to help arrive at the piece below......

"Rosalida in the Night" by Olivia Irvine.
And I just happened to pick out the following two sketches from Olivia's books as I think they are really lovely drawings in their own right; not over worked or fussy.


Particularly like this one. No doubt these drawings will also help to create another really special painting.
Similarly, with Fiona Jappy's work I thought you might be interested in seeing some of her working material.
I mentionad before that Fiona gets so engrossed in her work that it becomes a way of life, creeping into her everyday, personal diary. Although I can't show you her diary I found these images fascinating:

Fiona was intrigued by this impressive house and the solitary figure that happened to be passing by. She gave a lot of thought to creating the perfect composition and then Fiona gave it the unique and dramatic Jappy touch.....

Which translates into.....

"Silent Traveller" by Fiona Jappy.
I love the eerie red on the drain pipes subtly emerging from the darkness.
The amount of work, effort and thought process that goes into an individual painting is fascinating, I am sure you will agree.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Personal & Magical Spaces

Hello everyone.

As often happens, I found myself sneaking into the gallery early this morning and those of you who have already visited will understand exactly why. Indeed, some of you have already made a second visit! The paintings on display are definately the kind to spend time with.
I am so pleased with how the gallery looks just now. It feels both magical and mysterious with the works of Olivia Irvine and Fiona Jappy gracing the walls.The work of both artists is complementary and have similar motivations, however the resulting paintings are very different, offering an exhibition of contrasting beauty and style.
Here are a couple of personal favourites...the curators choice if you like:

"Passer-by" by Fiona Jappy.
I am becoming quite obsessed by this piece. The skill and painterly technique here is second to none. It's so soft and mysterious.....a really beautiful painting.

"Reception" by Olivia Irvine.
I think "Reception" speaks for itself.


I Just wanted to point out how well this piece has been executed.
Both artists have worked incredibly hard for this exhibition and we are very grateful for all their efforts. This show has been months in the making and both Olivia and Fiona have painted with honesty and conviction which, I believe, to be one of the factors that that makes this exhibition of such high calibre and so special.
In the months leading up to the exhibition we were lucky enough to have been able to visit Olivia's studio a few times. I love studio visits and find them invigorating and inspiring. It also reminds me of what being an artist is all about. I think it's important to visit the artists' studio, as you can get a real sense of the person and can "bond" with the work on a new level. Working towards an exhibition is a very solitary and doubtful time for an artist and I believe it helps for someone else to come in and say the work looks amazing and that you should be proud be of yourself. You also never know what you might come across. Sometimes you stumble across a little treasure that no one else has ever seen before....amazing!
As any artist knows the studio space is a deeply private and personal place. I know that many artists have, like me, experienced the extreme highs and lows in their place of work. All artists are different: I personally like to go into the studio (although sadly it's been a while) for a long "stint". I sometimes think it like a time warp where 4/5 hours can seem like half an hour. It's almost like being in a trance: you are so focused on what you are doing, everything else is blocked out.
Anyway an artist's studio space is where all the action happens. The space where you can get a euphoric rush when a painting is going so could even be you best work yet! The place where you discover a new technique, a perfect colour combination or a beautiful texture. It's also the place where I know many an artist gets a heavy heart and give themselves a brutally hard time. If it's not working, then you're rubbish and not trying hard enough. I'm also pretty sure that many an artist has experienced that sinking feeling when you think you have completely ruined a piece: it all happens in the studio.
Unfortunately, we were unable to visit Fiona's studio up in Elgin....although it may still happen! I would love to get in there. I want to see and experience at first hand the place where an individual creates works of such "desolate beauty", as a recent gallery visitor described them. However, we are lucky enough to get this sneaky peek into the world of Fiona Jappy.

Just like Fiona - very tidy and organised. I smiled at the little blow heater....a must in many a studio during the winter months.
I happen to know that Fiona becomes so engrossed when working on a new body of work that she will get out of bed at 2.00am to write down an ideas or sketch. Again, part of this exhibtion includes Fiona's and Olivia's sketch books,working drawings and even personal effects that helped inspire the works. Definately worth a look, they give a fascinating insight to the mind of the artist. Fiona's work is an autobiographical account of her return home to Scotland after a lengthy period painting in the States. Her "true" sketch book doubles up as her personal diary so we are unable to share that with you. but we have some intriguing drawings and pesonal notes which I find fascinating. I love spotting little "clues" in her research material that appear in the final paintings:

It's difficult to make out the shadowy figure in "Elsewhere", but it is a good example.
I was at Edinburgh College of Art the same time as Fiona, and those in the know could tell her work was special.

Here is a little insight into Olivia Irvine's personal space:

I got very excited in here, although I did my best to hide it and remain cool-ish. On first viewing Olivia's work I can honestly say it was love at first sight. The response was instant: a combination of excitement, intrigue and total appreciation. Olivia's work gets a similar reponse to Henry Kondracki's "Ice Cream Van" and "Dofos" paintings. I just wanted to marvel at more and more of her work. As with Fiona, Olivia paints with total conviction, with themes of home, family holidays, her children, childhood and play providing a constant inspiration. Olivia's work is magical and captivating and her studio space is exactly the same. You can feel the energy in Olivia's studio and you can't help but pick up the little dollies and clothing that appear in her work.

"Golden Chain".
To me this painting is an entire fairy tale in itself which you could wonder about for a life time. I am in awe at how the dressing table mirror has been painted and of the light pouring through the windows in the foreground.

I took this detail from "Golden Chain" as I find it fascinating.
Olivia Irvine paints in oil and egg tempera, always making a controlled decision on where to use the egg tempera. Indeed, Olivia's work in egg tempera has led her to be considered an expert in this ancient field of practice by her peers. I, for one, agree.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Olivia Irvine & Fiona Jappy Exhibition

Happy New Year everyone!

It certainly is for me. Indeed, I am in my element at the moment as I am currently sorrounded by some very beautiful and special paintings by award winning artists Olivia Irvine and Fiona Jappy.
I really would urge you to come in and have a look at this will not be dissapointed! This is a showcase of work that will grab your attention and spark some soul-searching...even evoke familiarity and memories.
Just thought we would give you a quick glimpse of how it came about....actually for that, you would need to go back many months. There will be more of that story shotly. Here's a little behind the scenes action:

The arrival of the Jappys. The piece in the foreground, "Passer-by", may have just clinched the "favourite" title from Fiona's work. It is currently in the window and it's great watching people stopping to gaze at it. It has a really soft quality to it and although it's quite a dark piece, there is a magical glow to it. It's beautifully painted and looks gorgeous under the window lights.

Bit of hanging action. Yes. I am sporting a pair of very unglamerous wellington boots. Purely weather related I can assure you! It's funny, for months I had been visualising Fiona & Olivia's exhibition, and could see the paintings on the walls however, when it came to actually insatlling them, I had a bit of a mental block. They were up they were down, this side that side. I wanted to make sure that every single piece was given the best wall or window space that it deserved. A bit like putting together a giant puzzle.

I liked this snap of Barbara Frank's "Little Donkey" & "Palmer" observing Olivia Irvine's painting "Perfect Spot". They have good taste!

Getting there...




Despite the dreadful weather, there was a fantastic turn out of Irvine & Jappy supporters. A huge thank you to all who braved the elements. It was also really lovely to have both Olivia and Fiona here for the night. Fiona made the marathon trip down from Elgin to be here.

Our special guests who were impeccably behaved:

Mini muses. Olivia Irvine's daughters Eleanor, left and Susanna, right with their friend in the middle. I think you will see the resemblance in the following picture....

Detail from "Perfect Spot". Just magical.