Wednesday, 24 February 2010


Hello everyone
I promised we would take a closer look at the new body of work by landscape painter Hazel Cashmore. To be honest, I have been looking forward and dreading this entry in equal measure. The work is so good and of such a high standard I am really not sure I have the correct words to do it justice. I am however convinced that when you see the work for real, what I have to say won't really matter.....these exceptional paintings will hold their own. I know this is true from the feedback we have been given about Hazel's work and that some of them have new homes already.
Just look at these:

"Last Glow" by Hazel Cashmore.

"Beyond and Beyond" by Hazel Cashmore.
I am really enjoying the above piece. It has an amazing horizon where it's not quite clear where the land ends and the sky begins. It draws you in on a journey and it really does feel like the sky and land could go on forever. "Beyond and Beyond" is the perfect title for this large painting which was picked out by another happy couple. I have mentioned before that Hazel lives in Thurso and is of course constantly exposed to the challenging, broody and inspiring landscape of the North, as demonstrated in "Last Glow". It's also apparent that the recent wintery conditions were a big inspiration in Hazel's work. The following piece, which I am becoming obssesive about, is a perfect example:

"Winter's Dusk behind the Loch" by Hazel Cashmore.
Hazel has spent the last few months engrossed in her studio where I just know she would have pushed and pushed herself to achieve the "perfect" painting, her best ever work. I think this hard work and dedication has more that paid off. I am obviously a huge fan of Hazel's work indeed, the first painting to grace Union Gallery's walls was a Cashmore. That very proud moment is captured below:

Such was my enthusiasm to see the first Cashmore on the walls.....they weren't even painted yet!
So I am a massive admirer - however she has another big fan. Such is Hazel's reputation as a fine landscape painter that it has even attracted the attention and admiration of Royalty:
When Charles met Hazel!
As landscape painters, Hazel and I share a mutual respect for each others work. We also share quite a lot in common: our love for our doggy companions, appreciation of classical music and colourful shoes! I will also add that Hazel's encouragement, wisdom and experience as an artist in the weeks leading up to the opening of Union Gallery were of enormous support to me and I will always be grateful.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Mark Nicholas Edward

Morning everyone
I promised to show you more about how the amazing "Wall of Fish" by genius Mark Nicholas Edward came about. I thought you would find the following "never been seen before" footage fascinating, and it's nice to be able to share with you the whole process.
First of all it's only fair to point out that "Wall of Fish" is the affectionate, collective name I've given to Marks 20 little painitngs. Each unique little painitng has it's own special title depending on which series it's in. My personal favourites (but only just) being "Fairy Tales I,II,III,IV", "It's The Little Things I, II,III,IV" and wonderful "Adventures in Quantum Theory I,II,III,IV".
In the beginning:

Mark gets his canvasses primed and ready for action:

Much of December and the whole of January saw Mark chained to his studio. I apologise to friends and loved ones.Getting there:
The above is a good example of the layering process that goes into Marks works. All the canvases are at different stages and it shows that Mark had to be pretty organised and in control to pull off a task of this proportion.

Mark must have felt some relief at getting those ones out the way. I have mentioned the black backgrounds in Mark's work before as being notoriously difficult to get to look so slick. One speck of dust in the wrong place and all that hard work is ruiend. Again, the nail biting process is intensified whilst working on such a tight scale: there's absolutely no room for error in any area - composition, brushwork and paint application, and annoying things like dirt and hairs.
I like the next images too.This is my kind of studio.... filled with all sorts of weird and wonderful paints, lotions and potions. You can just about feel the energy and creativity pumping in this work place.:

All those chemicals and vapours probably gave Mark's lungs a bit of a hammering though. I do believe that his eyesight is almost recovered will see what I mean.

"Wall of Fish" is installed and looking spectacular:

Hoping the next image will give you a better idea of the painstaking detail involved here.

Believe it or not, even though the fish are smaller than a one pence piece you can actually see the scales on them. Now that's unbelievable!
I also have to say that there was a slight risk that Mark could get "burn out" with producing the sheer number he did. 20 is a tall order and in this tiny scale even more intensive, but at no point is there any evidence of repetitiveness creeping in. Every single piece has been executed with utter care, devotion and the determination that each piece will be special: I have nothing but respect and admiration for this. In fact, Mark did this so effectively that people found trying to choose their favourite (me included) almost impossible. As John and Lillian disovered:

Another look at "Wall of Fish" by Mark Nicholas Edward.

And I thought I would end by showing you this little guy:

With a face only it's mother could love, The Australian Blob Fish recently made the news as it's numbers are plumetting. Blob is not prized for his good looks or tasty meat but is suffering as the fish keeps being caught up in fishing nets used to capture the good looking guys. I do actually feel for the plight of poor old blobby but yikes.....I know what I'd rather have on my walls!

Friday, 12 February 2010


Hello everyone
We interrupt coverage of the "Call of The Wild" exhibition to bring you this special little blog as it's fast approaching that time of year again. The time of year when, if you are in a relationship you are expected to waste a lot of money on cheesy, four foot teddy bears and questionable dining experiences. Or if you are single, made to feel utterly useless and the loneliest person on the planet. Oh yes ladies and gentlemen, it's Valentines Day!!
(No doubt I will struggle to open the door on Sunday for the mountain of mail that will be waiting for me.)
Love comes in all shapes and forms and there's no escaping that love is one of the most powerful emotions that us human beings will ever experience. Love has inspired artists, musicians and poets for centuries. I thought I would mark this romantic occassion by showing you the piece below by one of our very own modern day Masters.
"Edinburgh Lovers" by Henry Kondracki.
I don't actually have this wonderful painting in the gallery, however I have been lucky enough to see the real deal a couple of times now. It's a large scale piece with a sweeping panorama, and you really do feel like you are on top of Calton Hill with the wind whistling around you. The happy couple look completely at ease with each other and are having a great timein spite of the rain. What I personally love about this painting is the unusual light. I think it must be early evening and I enjoy the little details like the street lights and illuminated clock face. Beautiful.
Of course if you were keen to see it then give me a shout as it can be easily arranged.

Well, whatever you are doing this weekend I hope you have fun. If you are passing the gallery I will be attempting to get into the romantic mood with French Fancies and Champange.....or maybe just wine.

Don't go breaking any heARTs now.....sorry.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Tweet Tweet

Hello everyone
Having spent the weekend trying and failing to communicate in Higher Grade French the benefits of owning an original piece of Scottish Art, to our 6 Nations Rugby visitors, it's back to business as usual.
And I thought I would kick start the week by focusing on these little beauties:

"Pink Bird" by Ruth Addinall.
"Ivy & Mug" by Ruth Addinall.
The title of Union Gallery's current exhibition is "Call of The Wild" and the exhibition includes some stunning bird, landscape and flower paintings alongside some excellent animal sculptures. I was going to keep Ruth Addinall's "Mug and Ivy" painting back for the next exhibition however, there is some foliage in there and it's a gorgeous, classy little painting, so it qualifies! I have to confess to being so taken with these two that I took them home with me to show Rob as he hadn't seen any of Ruth's work before. We spent the whole evening discussing their merits.
I guess you would call Ruth's style "niave", which is something a lot of painters would love to be able to achieve. On first viewing "Pink Bird" I got excited as it put me in mind of one of my all time favourite painters, Henri Rousseau and in particular a piece I adore:

"Tiger in a Tropical Storm" by Henri Rousseau.
Ok "Tiger in a Tropical Storm" is much larger than Ruth's "Pink Bird" but I think you can see the similarities. "Pink Bird" maybe on a much smaller scale but this jewel can hold it's own in its own charming way. They are also presented to perfection in understated yet classy frames as you can see in the next image:

I am also getting as lot of pleasure looking at "Bird Study I & II". To me they sit perfectly on the back wall alongside Hazel Cashmore's to die for landscapes. Have a wee look......

There has been a staggering amount of interest in this exhibition with a lot of the work finding new homes already. Again I am so proud of the quality of paintings and sculpture on display and would be only to happy to put the kettle on if you want to come in for a closer look. Aparently I make a decent cup of coffee. Coming up next Mark Nicholas Edward's astounding "Wall of Fish".
Until then au revoir.........I think.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Birthday Blog

Hi everyone
I mentioned that February was shaping up to be a busy, busy month and so far it is. However, I would like to rewind to Tuesday the birthday. I am not going to tell you how old I am. Let's just say I am incredibly youthful.....obviously.
It was lovely to turn up at the gallery and find a bundle of cards under the door. Some very lovely, and some just down right rude so I won't be showing you. The one below cracked a smile on my extremely youthful face.
Inside another:

Lovely. I was working on my birthday, but decided to mix the day with a healthy work/play balance. The day started off well with a new delivery from sculptor Carl Newman. I was particularly keen to see the piece below as it's a new line from Carl.

Oh yes....he is lovely. In fact he was only on the wall for a day before he hopped off to a new home. Again I even liked the little "nest" he arrived in.

My day was brightened even further with a visit from award winning artist Henry Kondracki. My ice cream van hero strikes a pose:

Note the red Greyfriars art doubt the contents will end up another Kondracki masterpiece.

Birthday bouquet. A wee posy from a secret admirer.
Followed by a spot of working lunch.......

We splashed out with that reduced to clear beef from Scotmid!!
The afternoon was also exciting as I anticipated the arrival of Hazel Cashmore's new work. I will be going into Hazel's work in more detail soon. I will say that when the work was being unwrapped there were a lot of "wows". One after the other, each piece as good as the other. I wasn't expecting them to arrive in such a whopping great lorry. Or to be handled by such a friendly courier driver!

Then another delivery from Sally Johns. When I first viewed Sally's work the response was instant. A mixture of excitement and curiosity. I haven't seen anything like her work before. It's fab.

A sneak preview of Sally Johns "A Blue Bird".

And look at Mr Barn Owl. With all that gold leaf (which must have been painstaking for Sally to apply) he looks dazzling in the gallery window. He is certainly getting a lot of attention.
The exhibition night was a real HOOT.....sorry.

Thursday, 4 February 2010


Giacometti's "Walking Man" has broken the world record price for a work of art at auction! At many,many millions I narrowly missed out on the bid. Bought by an anonymous collector, lets hope the cheque doesn't bounce.

Anyway, good news is that we have our new exhibition "Call of The Wild". There's some pretty amazing work in this show and you can pick up an original masterpiece for quite a bit less than a Giacometti!
Just take a look at these little treasures by Mark Nicholas Edward.........

"Wall of Fish" by Mark Nicholas Edward.
So far February is shaping up to be a busy old month......I endeavour to keep you posted. Stay cosy.