Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Rat Race: Being Human, Martyn McKenzie

Hello Everyone

So last time we looked at the captivating work of award winning artist Audrey Grant.

Now it's time for the other half of this very 'on trend' exhibition, third year Edinburgh College of Art student Martyn McKenzie:

Martyn McKenzie beside "Marmaris Park Bar" during the installation of 'Being Human'

Boy, where to begin!
Firstly, I think you have to applaud this young man's talent, spirit and conviction. To take on the role of voyeur and translate feelings and scenes we have all experienecd through such young eyes is no mean feat:

"I often find people strange: their actions, the way they infest man-made environments, clustered together in buildings or moving fast across roads or railways lines...We have created such a surreal world: a world to entertain ourselves and to consume".

Well said Martyn. I'm pretty sure I am not alone in agreeing with you that I too find the world a very strange, even scary place (particulary just now) and like many others ask the common question, "what's it all about"?

"Moving Stairs" 2010, oil on board by Martyn McKenzie.

How often do you want to scream out when life becomes increasingly pressurised and the expectations of us as humans becomes too much? Unless you're very lucky we've all been there.
I recently found out that Martyn is the third year students painitng rep at ECA: good choice folks. Martyn is a 'do'er', who gets on with the job and delivers results.

Martyn MacKenzie's talent doesn't just stop with paintings like:

"Ice Cream Break" 2010, oil on board. This painting  shows an  interest in music and live gigs. A little further probing and it turns out that Martyn is a fine musician too. Watch this video - Martyn is not only playing the guitar and singing, he actually wrote this song, "Carousel". At the risk of sounding a bit Cheryl Cole...I'm proud of you Martyn! Enjoy.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Being Human: Audrey Grant

Sadly my blueberry had a melt down at the New Year.

So tragically I have lost precious footage of the development of award winning artist Audrey Grant's body of work. It was fascinating and compelling to see the work unfold.
One has to admire Audrey's total commitment and determination. She battled through an horrific winter everyday to her not exactly warm studio. Any artist will tell you that this can sometimes be a thankless and solitary experience. Some days you go in, put in hours of draining, mental (and physical) work and are left feeling utterly demoralised. As Audrey's paintings take months to develop, she has been working on this exhibition for a year. She is a 'physical' painter, who fights and nurtures her paintings every step of the way, and that can be an exhausting experience where often the hand to eye coordination can't keep up with the brain.
I think it's fair to say that you can feel that intensity and perfection from the work. So, looking at Audrey's paintings is also an experience- both moving and enlightening. These are important paintings to spend time with and contemplate and in this increasingly stressful world, I think Audrey's paintings will strike a chord with everyone. After all, we are all mere mortals making our way through the world. When I look at Audrey's work there is a startling familiarity. I recognise and empathise with the fragility, the awkwardness, even the loneliness of the nameless figures captured in paint:

"Man Standing with Yellow Background", oil on canvas. Audrey Grant 2010.
I look at the above painting and actually think, yes, I know that....I've been there.
I am so grateful that there are artists like Audrey Grant who have a gift in translating these raw emotions through canvas and paint.

I would like you to experience these paintings too.

Next time we will be taking a closer look at the work "Being Human"'s other half, ECA student Martyn McKenzie.

In keeping with the 'Being Human' theme I thought it would be nice to introduce a few inspirational and unsung heroes:

This is Tony. Tony had been a BIG ISSUE vendor for 6 years and has a wealth of life-experience stories. Day in, day out, you will find him outside Tesco's at the bottom of Broughton Street. I'm sure a lot if you living in Edinburgh will instantly recognise his 'well kent' face. Tony is always smiling and genuinely enjoys his work: I always find a bit of banter with Tony puts a spring in my step. I also owe him a huge thank you for looking after the Union Gallery hounds when I pop in for the groceries. Particularly Harry, the crazy and rather difficult Dalmatian. Please buy your Big ISSUE from Tony.

Lastly. Masses of best wishes to our dear friends Mr and Mrs Gough who's baby twin girls were born on this day 2011. Congratulations!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Bold & The Beautiful

Hello everyone

So the opening of the "Being Human" exhibition got off to a spanking start!

What a really great night, well attended by artists, buyers and lovely friends and family members of teams Grant and McKenzie. Great things can happen when you all pull together.

This is definitely worth a read:

Here is the footage:


I found this curiosity whilst going through the photos:

I can only assume this was after hours, during the clear up phase. I think I resemble some kind of mischievous, chair stealing gnome! Goes to show I have a sense of humour....sometimes.

A thoughtful gallery visitor and Audrey Grant admirer brought in this beautiful posy of snowdrops from her garden. There's over a hundred snowdrops in there....that's a lot of picking! A warming human touch.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Ending with...

Hello everyone

Firstly, I want to say a huge thanks to all 20 of the artists that made "Small and Perfectly Crafted" so, well, perfect! As there were so many different styles on show it made for a really visually stimulating exhibition. Just the thing to kick-start a new year.
So it was lovely, on the last weeknd of the exhibition, to have an unexpected visit from the lovely artist Cathy Campbell:

Cathy Campbell's still life paintings are truly delicious.
Earlier in the week:

Plotting and planning with artist and partner in crime Stewart Bremner. I was treated to a very tasty supper with home made bread, also delicious.
All the way from NYC:

My father is having a cultural vacation in the Big Apple. I thought it would be nice if he visited Hannah Haworth, creator of "The Hunt", to see her first solo exhibition in New York. Unfortunately, he arrived on a Sunday and the gallery was closed. Thanks for your efforts though Dad, and for sending photographic evidence that you did actually make the trip! This photo is of Auldjo family friend Ian Ferguson. Looks like they're having a good time.
Leaving you with this:

Brave Forsythia is always a welcome blast of colour in February. I think it will also be the perfect floral accompaniment for the next, powerful exhibition:

Being Human opens this Thursday and is definitely an exhibition not to be missed.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


Hello everyone

On Saturday I was blessed with the unexpected, yet very welcome company of some of the talented artists that are partners at UNIONgallery. A perk of the job:) Some even bearing gifts!
First in was award winning artist and egg tempera expert Olivia Irvine:

Thank you Olivia for the perfectly gessoed board. Your generous gesture will be seen again in a new life.
I was delighted to tell Olivia that a representative form Stirling University had visited to see her new work. Stirling University have an original Olivia Irvine in their collection...they have a good eye.
Also, it transpires that we are both somewhat vexed that we missed out of the following little treasure:

"Carousel Horse". Oil & Beeswax on Board by Derek McGuire.
'If you snooze you lose'. A wise phrase that rings in my ears, and Olivia's, evertime I look at this image. Geez.

Next Up:

Abstract artist Trevor Jones (aka dashing Mr Jones) and the deadly talented Dylan Lisle, openly expose my penchant for chocolate.

Who says Yorkies aren't for girls? Nonsense!
Last, but by no means least:

The lovely Homoky family topped off the day with artist Laura Homoky looking as radiant as ever. Aparently Laura sparkled at the recent SSA opening. Best wishes for your second child who will be arriving very soon!
I had been expecting the company of award winning artist David Hosie. However, he was delayed. I believe he may visit today. There's more to come on David Hosie soon. Until then I will leave you with another encouraging image:

They're my heroes!

Speak soon

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


Hello everyone

Well folks, we are again fast approaching that dreaded time of year. Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen, Valentines Day. Fear not though, at Union Gallery we believe we have a solution :)
Boycott this over-inflated, marketing, non event of the year! DO NOT feel pressurised into wasting money on cards, chocolates, silly teddies, or worse....a "romantic meal out". Do you really want to be squashed in with a group of equally uncomfortable couples in the name of "love"?
For all you 'singles' out there....we salute you! Revel in your independence and take no notice of what Tesco's, John Lewis, Anne Summers, or any other crass big business 'tells' you what you should be doing on Feb 14th. However, if you are lucky enough to be in a loving and meaningful relationship, and feel the need to signify this in some way, perhaps you should secure a little treasure. And, if you're a happy single, reward yourself and treat yourself to a truly special gift. When you weigh up the cost of 'junk'....the cards, balloons, chocolates and novelty gifts, you will be surprised. Of course, the true beauty of buying an original, meaningful and one-off work of art's everlasting. The current exhibition "Small and Perfectly Crafted" means that you can secure a beautiful work of art for under £200 and is aptly running until Feb 14th for your convenience.
However, if you are a real romantic and beautiful flowers simply can't be overlooked (I salute you too!) then why not invest in somethat will last forever?

"Lilie's". Oil on board by Cathy Campbell.

"Cocolate Cosmos". Watercolour by Jenny Matthews.
With such a beautiful gift you get the best of both worlds...chocolate and flowers that will stand the test of time.
When February 14th comes, have fun whatever you're doing and don't go breaking any hearts! x