Saturday, 26 March 2011

Sea of Souls

Hello everyone

And a warm welcome to our latest follower. Nice to have you with us.
It's also nice to break the 80 following barrier. Hip hip hurrah!

So I promised to show you some footage from the "Making Waves" opening. I am ashamed to report that I failed miserably. I am not ashamed to admit that it was because I was having too nice a time, chatting with the artists and visitors to the gallery, and generally enjoying the work on the absolute perk of the job, and by jingo the work is good!
I did however manage this wee snap:

I wanted to capture the gentle ambiance of multi media artist, Marcela Trova's installation, "Sea of Souls". A captivating and enchanting piece of work that is both relaxing and thought provoking to be around. I would urge you to come and spend some time with it and the breathtaking paintings on display while you still can.
This is Czech artist Mracela Trsova installing "Sea of Souls":

I have to praise Marcela. She spent a whole day up on UG's wobbly ladders (I remained calm!), installing the work. It was a painstaking process with no way to hurry it up. Getting the work to flow right depended on the placement of each fish in relation to the others. Every time one was adjusted Marcela had to be patient until it stopped moving. Much like Hannah Haworth's installation "The Hunt" which we exhibited at Christmas, "Sea of Souls" is another labour of love. There are 13 individual fish here and it took Marcela an average of 3 days to perfect each one. Many a cut finger too!
Have a shifty over this to learn more about the work:
I did manage one other photo from the opening:

It's a photo of seascape expert Hazel Cashmore's rather fabulous shoe.
Hazel does of course have 2 feet....for some reason I only thought to photo one.
I would quite like a pair of these shoes for myself!
Leaving you with this:

Ladies and gentlemen....introducing the one and only Ullysses!
I am enjoying having Jon Dawkins and Anne Rhodes staying with us in our now tidy house. (YES it's TRUE...the house is actually clean!) Largely thanks to the best cleaning co in town:
Jon was most taken by the previous pussy blog and kindly showed me this excellent photo.
I think it's fair to say Ullysses is quite simply Top Cat.

Have a great weekend x

Monday, 21 March 2011

A Tale of 9 Lives

Hello everyone

A big welcome to Douglas Fraser. Thanks for joining us!

This is a happy blog entry to kick start another pawsome week.

I recently made a studio visit to award winning artist Joyce Gunn Cairns MBE's studio to fully appreciate her exquisite work. Joyce will be showing with us in July and I will be sure to let you know all about it in good time. I was very excited by Joyce's work, and was even lucky enough to get a sneaky peek through her drawers. It's not everyday you get to say that!
I was really taken by a small drawing of her dearly departed cat, Seamus, on the studio wall. Sadly I didn't have the presence of mind to take a photo of it at the time, but it struck me because it was very similar to a drawing I did of my own kitty, Pluto, in my art student days:

I sold the original drawing at my degree show so this is a photo of a scan, behind glass, so the image is a bit dodgy. It was much better in real life..... I promise!
Anyway, it got me thinking about how many artists I know that are animal lovers. I wonder if it is that we are quite sensitive souls by nature, and that we enjoy the gentle but fullfilling company of our loyal and unconditional loving friends?
So this blog is for all those studio cats....we can't get enough of you!



We now have Seamus! Isn't he beautiful?

Back to my own pussy:

So here is Pluto who I acquired in my 3rd year at ECA. Being a mug I actually got 2 from the litter, but sadly Holly left this world a long time ago. At the grand old age of 14 Pluto's still up to his old tricks and annoying me by blocking the TV.
Many of you will be familiar with Scottish treasure Elizabeth Blackadder and her cats:

Simply gorgeous.

Northern kitties:

Terrible twosome Lola, left, and Millie, recent studio companions to award winning artist Fiona Jappy who sadly lost her former companion earlier this year. They look like real mischievous moggies!
A regal feline:

This is Rosie, an Egyptian meow.....sorry, Mau! Rosie is studio accomplise to flower painter extrodinaire Jenny Matthews. Here she is getting in on the action:

Now that's a beautiful drawing.
Award winning artist and coincidently, former student of Elizabeth Blackadder, Jenny Matthews will be showing again next year in a duet with fellow contemporary, Janet Melrose. Janet Melrose's stunning solo exhibition will be in May this year. Again, I will let you know all about it.

This is Pearl, the bonnie British Blue. Pearl lives with Andy Green and Karen-Claire Voss who have a most excellent printing company which you can read more about here:
 I really like this little pussy:

This cute little menace is Newton. Ever enthusiastic, but perhaps a bit distracting to outstanding sculptor Barbara Franc. Interestingly, Barbara trained under another Scottish treasure John Bellany, yet progressed into 3D work. Iam VERY excited that Barbara will be having a solo exhibition with us next month. You MUST see it.
Leaving you with this:

"Ginger Cat" oil on canvas by Henry Kondracki.
Ok, so Henry doesn't have a studio cat however, he quite likes moggies and this tiny painting is of his neighbours cat 'Ron' - so named after Ronald Weasley of Harry Potter fame.
I'm a massive fan of Henry Kondracki's work and in my humble opinion he is another Scottish treasure.

So that's a nod to the felines DONE. Next time a pat on the back to the studio hounds.

Speak soon

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Happy Days

Hello everyone

I am busy hanging the next exhibition, "Making Waves". It's looking rather splendid and I feel energised and refreshed by the work on the walls. It makes me want to get out and about and head for the coast, to see some of our beautiful landscape. Which, is looking better all the time:

Come and join us tomorrow night:

I will show you some snaps from the preview. Until then, I leave you with this:

A big thank you to Daisy-May for this cheerful little painting! Daisy-May is the granddaughter of Hazel Cashmore whose exquisite sea paintings are 'floating my boat' as it were.

Speak soon x

Saturday, 12 March 2011

The Sleeping Man

Hello everyone

Hoping you are all OK and having a super weekend.
I'm going to end the 'Being Human' exhibition with a nod to this anonymous, yet peaceful chap:

"Man Asleep" Pen on Paper Study by Martyn McKenzie.
I really like this drawing and in particular the sleeping fella.
He appears to be completely out of it, blissfully fast asleep
and oblivious to his surroundings. He is cosy and content....not
a bad place to be considering this chap will spend an eternity in
this position. Well observed Martyn.
I noticed this little comment in Martyn's visitors book:
'Martyn, you work is special, you are special!'
I couldn't agree more.

If you want to meet The Mustard Man, Sleeping Man and the other figures in 'Being Human' then
you will have to be pronto. Exhibition finishes Monday!

Speak soon

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Mustard Man

The current exhibition, 'Being Human', is now in its final week and, as usual when an exhibition draws to a close, I am experiencing higher than normal levels of anxiety.  I haven't had it this bad since Derek McGuire's solo exhibition, 'Ella Novo Loco'.  Such is the intensity of the work on display that I know I am going to feel quite flat when it is gone.
I thought it would be nice to take a closer look at, and celebrate all that is good and great about, a few of the paintings on display.

We have to start here:

'Man Standing with Yellow Background', oil on canvas, Audrey Grant, 2010
Gosh.  I confess that I struggle to find the words to explain the emotional connection that I, and many others, have made with this painting.  To put it plainly, something about this painting 'got me' as soon as I saw it, and it has conitinued to have an effect on me ever since.  Perhaps the strength of this painting is largely summed up by a note left by an admirer in Audrey Grant's vistors book:
'Audrey, you restore one's faith in painting'. 
I can't help but feel a great deal of affection for, and fascination with, 'Mustard Man' as I have knicknamed him, and I feel that a large part of that is fueled by some of the subtle details that make him so connected to the subject of 'Being Human'.

This perfect little finger is one of them.....

I have mentioned before that Audrey is a 'physical' painter: she fights with her materials to achieve her distinctive and powerful images.  Yet, in that intense and prolonged battle (Audrey's paintings are months in the making), you catch glimpses of real tenderness and a deeply humane attention to detail:

'Mustard Man' may well be a little lost, fragile, even 'up against it' in the world he inhabits, but looking at his perfectly and lovingly painted ear set against a yellow glow, it's clear that his maker was determined to send him out looking his best.  He will stand the test of time.

Finally, a big thank you to the kind soul who left us this beautiful orchid:

He explained that he wanted to give it to the gallery as he felt that we and our visitors would genuinely appreciate its beauty.  We most certainly do!  I have positioned it next to:

'Standing Figure', oil on canvas, Audrey Grant 2010.
Affectionately known as 'Socks', I thought that the flower complimented his colouring rather well.

Hurry back soon to discover some more about ECA student, Martyn McKenzie's work.  As someone has written in his visitors book:
'Your work is very special - you are very special!'
Couldn't agree more.....

Speak soon.

Thursday, 3 March 2011


Hello everyone

I thought it might be nice to show you some behind the scenes pictures of preparations in the lead up to the 'Being Human' exhibition. Before that, I would encourage those of you who haven't made it in yet to do so -and a HUGE thank you to the visitors who have. I really love this exhibition and I think it's important to value and and encourage the promising talent that is Martyn Mckenzie. Equally you need to experience and contemplate the fragile perfection that is Audrey Grant's work. I'm not sure how long it will be before you can appreciate her work again in this context.
This is Audrey:

All smiles. Having worked intensively for a year to create these beautiful paintings it was essential to get the framing just right. This is Audrey with Jamie from Leith Frame Studio, who's input and advise has been invaluable. The quality of craftsmanship, and attention to detail, from these folks has done Audrey Grant's work justice and ensured this part of the process ran extra smoothly. Thank you:

Leith Frame Studio's pooch 'Bailey' takes it all in his stride.

Again, the presentation of Martyn Mckenzie's work was also critical. Many of his large scale works simply sit right at home in their own skins. However, we thought it was important to include some of his drawings and etchings that demonstrate his thorough research and understanding of the subject matter:

Decisions, decisions! Framing is often an art in itself and getting the balance right can take a bit of thought. This is especially so when it comes to delicate lines and mark making such as:

"Moving Stairs" etching 2010 by Martyn McKenzie.
It's important that the frame enhances rather then encroaches on more delicate works. The less is more rule often applies in these instances.
Leaving you with this:

In keeping with the 'Being Human' theme and continuing with a nod to the unsung and inspirational, this is Betty & John. I see them a lot around these parts, and every time I do they go some way to restore my faith in humanity and the importance of partnerships. Betty & John have been together for an astonishing 51 years and every time I see them they are smiling, holding hands and thriving on each others company. I hope to be this content in my later years.

Speak soon