Monday 29 March 2010

Not so still

Hello everyone

Just thought I'd let you know whats going on in Union Gallery at the moment.
Last month saw me take delivery of some of the finest still life paintings I have seen. Indeed, the gallery is looking uber sophisticated, elegant, grown up and classy......all adjectives I am not normally associated with!

It was wonderful to finally meet Cathy Campbell and of course to finally see her work for real! I knew I wasn't going to be disappointed: see that little one at the front there? "Winter Table" its absolutely gorgeous and I have it strategically positioned opposite me in the gallery, so I can look at it all day. Cathy has never shown in Edinburgh before, so I am thrilled to have found her and to be able to show you all her beautiful work. She's fascinated by light and how it falls on the objects in her paintings. She can work for months on a single painting, as she likes to go back to the piece and capture it at different times of the day. The paint is super thick on some of her work, at times actually forming peaks.....delicious!

And take a look at this little treaure. "Orchid in Brass Pot" by Suzanne Kempley. If you look really, really closely you can just make out Suzanne's reflection in the pot. You can just see her and her easel as she works away at the painting.....amazing! It's hanging on the wall right now so if you can't make it out from this little image, come in and I'll show you. Suzanne also takes a long time to produce her work as everything she has ever painted has been observed from life. She wouldn't dream of using photographs.
The next piece is possibly my favourite of Suzanne's:

"Gourd with White Flowers". Those delicate little white flowers look like collage, however it is actually painted. The shadow under the gourd in the foreground is painted in gold leaf.  Again, quite stunning.
And what about this tasty number:

"Evening" by Astrid Trugg. This painting has so much charm and I adore the subtle palette. Again, you may not be able to make it out from this image but, on the grey section of the background there is written a list of some of my favourite things.....Tarte aux chocolate, sorbet, chocolat chuad. Heaven on a canvas - well board actually. Astrid works on board as she likes to build up layers of paint, then scrape back and build them up again to achieve the desired effect.
Another artist who prefers to work on board and uses layering and scaping away of paint is the wonderful Georgie Young:

"Protea and Lace" has the actual lace imprints on it. Some of which I believe to be the designs of her own father who was a lacemaker. Beautiful.
Another lacey number:

"Tulips" by Jean Hall. Quite a lot of Jean's work derives from an interest in Indian fabrics and other objects, having lived there for some time. I so enjoy the sense of order and calm in Jean's work.
We will be taking a closer look at the work in the Not So Still exhibition, paying particular attention to the flowers used.
After hours. I am leaving you with this happy image.We were blessed with a little visit from artist David Hosie (left) who came in just after the opening of the exhibition. Interestingly, he was immediately drawn to Cathy Campbell's work.

Speak soon x

Saturday 27 March 2010

Something for the weekend III. Just for fun.

We had a little soiree at Union Gallery the other night with a few close friends. I think now is a good time to thank all our wonderful friends and artists who have been an enormous support and help to us since opening the gallery.
So a ceratin Sam Gough exclaimed the other night that he was fed up of being photographed every time he came into the gallery and never appearing on the blog. BIG MISTAKE!
So in celebration of my wonderful friend Sam....this is for you.

Lovely Sam, can communicate and make friends with everyone. He knows no barriers and loves all. (That's Sam on the left by the way.)
He is smart, witty, runs in marathons for charity, and the life and soul of any party:

As seen here, showing off with more of our wonderful friends. "Truckfest"....dearie me.
He was the instigator behind this curious image. Little Murphy was sound asleep.

But the reasons I love my Sam so much apart from his warmth, witt and humour are:
He is a doting and loving father to his "girls"

Rubic and Peggy seen here at Union Gallery.
He is also a loyal and devoted husband to his beautiful missus:

The equally lovely Nina Gough......tickled pink by the painting of the cocks!

Me and my Sam. We salute you Mr Gough.
To the regular followers to the blog I do apologise for the temporary lowering of standars. This is purely a blip and normal service shall resume shortly.
Have a great weekend x

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Going FULL BLOOM!: Jenny Matthews solo

Hello everyone
I decided to set myself a little project the other day to get my brain into the "zone", in preperation for the spectacular Jenny Matthews solo exhibition in May. I did something similar before during the Christmas Exhibition. We were showing Janet Melrose's stunning paintings, some of which featured the little birds that visit her garden. I went on a reckie to do a spot of bird wathching.....only then did I fully appreciate the difficulties of trying to paint the wee blighters....they wont hold still!
So this time, armed with my wonderful wellies, a spotty dog and camera, I decided to get myself inspired by the flora around Edinburgh.

During the expedition the spotted one thought he'd found himself a girlfriend, however sensible Crombie took one sniff of Harry and thought better of it!

I was trying to pick out certain types of flowers in keeping with Jenny Matthews style: she likes the kind that suprise you, have grown quite happily on their own, not necessarily really exotic or overly manicured specimens. I also picked out a few of my own favourites, probably because like a lot of other people I am so glad to see them finally here.....we have defeated another winter! That's why we are having the Jenny Matthews solo exhibition. It seemed fitting to celebrate getting through a particulary tough winter, and rather grim year for many people, by putting on this beautiful exhibition. Everyone is welcome to come and celebrate with us!
Back to the project:
I confess to actually having taken this photo (not a bad one if I may so so myself!) back in February. These snowdrops are the first to come out in Edinburgh and every year I make a point of going to visit them.

Yes, I am sure I am not alone in being very glad to see these fellas. Although I do remember them one year being out in full glory during March.....then being snowed on! I picked this one out as it was just the couple of flowers in the middle of no where. Who put that bulb there then?
I came across this on my adventures:

I think both artists Jenny Matthews and Janet Melrose would like this. A perfect little bit of nature, lovingly and dutifully crafted. I would just like to point out that I found this little nest (probably last years) lying at the side of the path....I did not take it out of a tree!

The bravest of the brave: Helleborus makes an appearance in January when all the other sensible flowers have shut up shop. I noticed that artist David Hosie had one of these potted up in his studio on my recent visit. It's a pretty tough species, so may survive ok in doors.
Leaving you with this picture as it put a smile on the old scowly:

Edinburghs finest. Two lovely WPCs take some time out to allow the children to pat the horses. I wanted to have a pat myself but unfortunately the spotted one made it impossible. This was in Inverleith Park, which I will show you a couple more snaps of soon....with a bit of a Fiona Jappy artist theme.
Bye bye for now x

Wednesday 17 March 2010


Hello everyone
So the pit stops continue, and the end of last week saw us rejuvinated, insprired and uplifted by a visit to the studio of Georgie Young.
Some of you may remember my earlier entries to the blog re. Georgie Young's work, and my confession that it upset me as a painter......she's just too good! Only now do I accept that I will never paint like Georgie: she has her own unique and distinctive style, and no one else comes close. Excellent, she has worked a long time to achieve that.
Anyway, Georgie is very cool and down to earth, yet her paintings mean a lot to her, so she suggested we visit to take a look at the new paintings she has been working very hard on for our "Not So Still" exhibition. Not for a second did I fear that the work wouldn't be up to her usual standards however, I wasn't quite prepared for just how good it is. Indeed, I have my sights set on a smaller piece....but I'm not going to tell you which one...someone might buy it to tease me!

This is Georgie's cat, Elvis, over-seeing proceedings. Interesting just how many artists are animal lovers...that could be a wee blog in itself. See the Protea flowers in the background? They will be making an appearance in Georgie's work.
We chatted a lot about her work and the enjoyment/angst of being an artist. It's like a love/hate relationship that you can never brush off!
Here's another wee image of Georgie's lovely studio. A mellow and relaxed space....much like the artist herself.

Georgie lives on the top floor and the views across Edinburgh are incredible. Aparently she's very popular during the Edinburgh Fireworks displays. I can see why...may even try to wangle a seat myself.
We briefly touched on how some of the objects that feature in her still life paintings are quite personal. I can see why certain objects have been painted with care, devotion and love.

I think the Paisley Hen is one of the more fun objects that will feature in Georgie's new work and it was really  interesting to see the actual thing - a part of the artist's life.

This is Georgie demonstrating what her next move will be in finalising her latest painting.....and although it's pretty nailbiting stuff, I am confident she will pull if off. You must come along and see Georgie's and all the other new work in the "Not so still" exhibition opening March 25th. We'll be having a wee party.
The next idol visit:
I was agian lucky enough to visit the epicentre of my former tutor David Hosie's studio last week. I have been to David's special place quite a few times since Union Gallery opened, David being a key figure in its development, and I find that each visit keeps me in tune and grounded with the exceptional talents that show in the gallery. David Hosie will be another artist featuring in the Edinburgh Festival Exhibition.....can't wait!
Sure enough on entering David's space I was confronted by this:

This is not a brilliant image of the work, and the piece is still a work in progress, so you're very lucky to see this. As yet the painting doesn't even have a title but I have given it the affectionate name of "Floating Boy and Girl". It will be interesting to see how far of the mark I am when David does christen it.
To me, this outstanding painting has everything - impact, curiosity, magic and mystery. Not only is it brilliantly painted, so much thought has gone into it. I remember seeing "Falling Man" for the first time, when it stopped me in my tracks, and this piece had exactly the same, powerful impact. Only this time I felt rather sad as I started to wonder if this special painting will get the home and appreciation it deserves.
Anyway, here's a wee insight into the life of a contemporary Scottish artist who has dedicated his whole life to painting:

My kind of place! I just know that when David paints, which is everday, he automatically wants everthing to be exactly where he left it.
Thumbimg through David's "note book" ,he dislikes the term sketch book, I can see that he's verging on creativity overload. An awful lot of good stuff going on in that head.
David  Hosie at work:

Yup, really proud to show an artist of such high callibre. You need to see David's latest work during Union Gallery's Festival Exhibition......don't miss out folks!!! The gallery is a public space that we and all the artists who show here want you to experience too.
Coming up......will I survive the meet with sculptor John Brazenall? Eek.
Take care all x

Friday 12 March 2010

All Systems Are GO!!

Hello everyone
There's so much going down at Union Gallery at the moment, with Rob and I making various pit stops all over the city, visiting some exceptional artists to see their masterpieces taking shape.  This has been pretty exciting, and here is the latest news:

Lovely artist Stewart Bremner paid me a visit the other day having just purchased the ingredients for his fabulous tarts from our neighbours at Real Foods.  As well as being a creative individual, he is also pretty gifted with the old pots and pans and I have been on a promise of one of his legendary cheese and broccoli flans for some months now.  Stewart tells me that there has been quite a lot going on in his life lately, and that inevitably this is channelling his work.  His painting is taking quite a dramatic change, going down a more abstract route.  I think this will be a good move for him and I will be very interested to see the new work.  I will keep you posted....  I will also let you know if the cheese and broccoli flan really is legendary!
Speaking of legendary, have a look at this, people:

Inside the hub of uber slick and meticulous artist Philip Braham.
Just wait until you see what Philip Braham can do folks.....spellbinding:
These pieces are painted on copper as Philip was on a quest to achieve the most flawless and immaculate finish possible.  Philip Braham has made the broadsheets a few times of late, and we are incredibly proud, impossibly excited, and a tad in awe at the thought of him showing in our Festival Exhibition - just remember that you saw him at Union Gallery first. 
Here's a last look at Philip's studio:
The Festival Exhibition is going to be a bit of a show stopper, showcasing the work of some of the finest artists currently living and working in Edinburgh: nothing like a bit if home-grown talent.
Next week I will be taking my life into my hands by visiting the residence of sculptor extraordinaire  John Brazenall.  Word in the art world is that John B has a bit of a rep for being a bad boy, such is his passion for credible art.  However, in defence of Mr Brazenall I must say that , apart from our 'dancing' incident, I have always found him to be the perfect gentleman!  Either way, I am on a quest to seek out the elusive 'Pop Gun' sculpture as another signature piece for the Festival Exhibition.  Intriguing , no?  If there are no further entries to this blog from me, you'll know that it all went horribly wrong!
A wee image of John Brazenall, the legend himself, at the preview of our David Hosie exhibition last September.
Next up, a very important and highly rewarding studio visit to award winning artist Jenny MatthewsJenny has spent the last year working towards her solo exhibition at Union Gallery, opening in MayJenny Matthews' flower paintings are much admired and highly collectable - she has consistently made the top five in the list of Scotland's best and most influential watercolour painters.  There will be a lot of interest in her exhibition, so if any of you want a heads up on the work, I will be more than pleased to accomodate you.
So this is Jenny in her beautiful studio, about which I couldn't help but be impressed with how organised and productive it was.  Everything is finely tuned towards Jenny being able to produce these exceptional paintings; her 'special' space is drenched in light, so important to her work, yet there are blinds to counteract the effects of the light becoming too harsh.  Jenny's studio is a calm, clean, organised and quiet space, allowing her to focus completely on her work, of which in my humble opinion, I have recently seen some of the best.
Here's a little preview:

I haven't given away too much as I would like to encourage as many of you as possible to come and see them for me, you won't be disappointed.
OK, signing off now, but I will end by showing you a pic of this humble catcus as, believe it or not, it had a pivotal role in organising the Jenny Matthews Solo Exhibition:
All will be explained in due course!
Lots more happening next week, including the highly anticipated visit from wonderful landscape artists Hazel Cashmore.  I do hope she brings along her fan, HRH The Prince of Wales to Union Gallery, where he will be greeted with a mug of the best coffee in town.
Tomorrow evening, Rob and I are off to award winning artist and genius Olivia Irvine's birthday party.  There is a 1970's theme....I'll be sure to take the camera.
Have a good weekend all.......

Saturday 6 March 2010

Something for the weekend II

Hello everyone
So February was a busy old month and it looks like March is shaping up much the same. We have visited quite a few studios recently, and more are lined up this month. We shall of course keep you posted on our adventures.
We had a visit from artist Sally Ann Johns the other day, accompanied by her brother who, it turns out, is pretty niffty with the camera. He took some amazing snaps of the gallery and it was interesting to see the space "distorted", if you like. The work still looks amazing though....

I also wanted to go back to artist Ruth Addinal's work. Rememeber the "Mug & Ivy" piece I raved about in the Tweet Tweet entry? I compared her work and style to an all time favourite artist of mine, Henri Rousseau. Well a certain person who shall remain nameless (Rob) remarked that he didn't see it and thought that I was maybe a bit off the mark. Anyway, always keen to prove that I am in fact CORRECT on these matters, I thought I would give it another go and came up with this:

"Fantasay Garden" by Ruth Addinal.

A classic jungle scene by the wonderful Henri Russeau. (This is a wee print I have hanging in the gallery loo as I love to be surrounded by my favourite images.) I rest my case.
Also, leaving you with I happen to be in a good mood. Have a good weekend all!

Tuesday 2 March 2010

The Dog, Cat and Squirrel!

Hello all
I am itching to show you the new works that have arrived form sculptor Barbara Franc....they are amazing!
Before we do so just thought I'd show you who payed us a visit the other day:
TV chef Clarissa Dickson Wright came in with her friend to have a look at Barbara Franc's "Sisters". The piece being based on 2 female members of the Cholmondeley family of whom Clarissa is a close friend. After a little look round Clarrisa homed in on sculptor Carl Newman's "Leaping Hare". She will be giving the piece to her friend who is the president of the National Coursing Association who, I am told, loves work featuring hares. However, they rarely find works that depict the movement of a Hare so accurately. Well done Carl and what a fab present!
Anyway back to Barbara's new work. I had been looking forward to getting these pieces for a while now. The "Alley Cat", being a commission, already had a home to go to, however we still have the dog and the red squirrel which I can assure you are well worth a look. Here's a quick look at their arrival:
"Red Squirrel" was quite easy to handle and happy to pose for the camera:

Pooch put up a bit more of a fight with his little bandaged legs. So cute:

Here he is in full glory
"The Little Dog Laughed to See Such Fun" by Barbara Franc. Barbara kindly sent a couple of images to us of "Alley Cat" in the making and I love the look of her studio, would like a good rummage around in there! See.....
The little beastie in the bottom right of the picture above actually ended up as part of the "Alley Cat's" leg.

That's one of the brilliant things about Barbara's sculptures. There's so much work and detail in them and you keep finding wonderful little details and decorative aspects. Her ability to give the pieces personality and character is also amazing.
Peek a boo!