Friday 30 September 2011

Baby Bees

Hello everyone,

I hope you have all been making the most of the September heat wave!

I'd like to introduce you to the splendid work of UG's youngest ever exhibiting artists....

I would like to say a special thank you to 6 year old Daisy May, granddaughter of landscape painter Hazel Cashmore, whose exceptional work is coming up next month.  Hazel sent me a picture of a gorgeous painting that Daisy May did last year and I was amazed by it. So, Daisy May gave me the idea to invite some of UG's artists' children to participate in the Plight of The Bumblebee exhibition. The excellent results are as follows:

'Happy Bee' by 6 year old Daisy May.

'Buzzy Bees' by 6 year old Ishbel Moore.

'Bees and Baskets' by 9 year old Eleanor Horton.

'Bees, Unicorn and Pink Pony' by 5 year old Jessie McGuire.
What a refreshing and wonderful insight into the worlds of young children! Apologies to young Suzanna Horton that I am unable to supply an image of her artwork, but the proud new owner was so keen to get it home that I didn't get time to photograph it.
The real magic and joy about these paintings is that the children earned a little pocket money whilst doing something they enjoyed, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust got some funds too, but more importantly the children learned a valuable lesson about the importance of our beautiful bees.

If you are in our neck of the woods tomorrow then pop in between 12-2 as Ooh Fashion are having a launch party. You can enjoy a glass of fizz and see what we have all been up to.

Have a buzzy weekend all!

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Iconic and Eternal Bees

Hello everyone,

In my last post I mentioned the amazing feedback we are receiving about the 'Plight of the Bumblebee' exhibition, and how impressed people have been with the commitment and enthusiasm demonstrated by the artists exhibiting.  So I'd like to take a closer look at the work of another of these great artists, Sally Ann Johns.

 I distinctly remember the first time I met Sally, and the first time I was introduced to her work.  My reaction was an instant 'Wow! This is very different', and there was no doubt that this was work I'd be proud to show.  Sally's work is influenced by the iconography of the Catholic and Apostolic Churches, with her often stylised subjects surrounded by painstakingly applied gold leaf, presented in their own hand-crafted cases.  They become more than a work of art - they become 'precious artefacts', as Sally describes them.
Let's take a look at these precious artifacts:

There's a certain time in the afternoon when the sun (if it's kind enough to put in an appearance) hits Sally's work and the result is quite spectacular - it glows and is something to behold.  I should note the exact time so that we could arrange viewings of this spectacular show!  However, what has really impressed me and many others is Sally's individual care and attention to detail.  She has actually gone to the trouble of researching and pairing off her honeybees and bumblebees with their favourite flowers:

'Bumblebee I', pastel and gold leaf on board, by Sally Ann Johns.
This flower is the Common Centuary, or Centaurium Erythraea.

'Honeybee I', pastel and gold leaf on board, by Sally Ann Johns.
A honeybee on a Purple-stemmed Aster, or Symphyotrichum Puniceum.

Very clever: not only has Sally created some very beautiful works of art, she has gone the extra mile to ensure that her carefully crafted subjects will live in happiness within an eternal vacuum of gold leaf.

Speak soon. 

Saturday 24 September 2011

The Bee Hunter

Hello everyone,

So as the summer draws to a close and autumn slaps us in the face, I've been thinking about the bees and insects and their continuing plight, which is made even harder as conditions harshen.

In the lead up to this exhibition I had done some swatting up on bees and the problems they (and all insects) face, and how we can help.  I'm even taking steps to make my garden more bee and butterfly friendly.  If you want any tips, just ask me!

So I've learnt a fascinating fact or two about the bees, and I can even identify (at very close range) the odd species.  However, I can't claim to have studied the bees and butterflies in half as much detail as award-winning artist Jenny Matthews.

This is a great photo of Jenny visiting the hives at Edinburgh University's King BuildingsJenny explains that a beekeepers suit does not actually prevent you from being stung - only from being stung to death.  Reasuring I know, but surely there's a bit of a design flaw there.  Still, I suppose we must all suffer for our art!

Indeed, such was the committment of Jenny Matthews to this exhibition that her husband, Pierre, tells me that she adopted unusual behavoiral patterns such as dashing off in mid conversation having spotted a particular butterfly or bee.  The following photos show Jenny researching and hard at work:

In the Pentlands, and:

In the Botanic Gardens.

So basically, Jenny Matthews spent her summer throwing herself into this project and I am very grateful to her, as I am to all the artists who have contributed to the exhibition.  The results of her work are outstanding, and this shows:

'Insect Observations: Summer 2011', watercolour, by Jenny Matthews.
What a stunning painting this is!

The feedback on this exhibition has been extraordinary and very encouraging, and so far we have raised £700 for The Bumblebee Conservation Trust.  This is great news and proves that, even in these difficult times, it is still important to give something back where you can, especially as all charities are struggling just now.

I will end by wishing you all a happy weekend and, if you're very, very lucky, next time I will share with you some of the secrets behind my favourite Jenny Matthews painting to date:

'Skep Needle Book', acrylic on canvas, by Jenny Matthews.

Keep Buzzin'

Tuesday 20 September 2011

The Honey Hunter

Hello everyone,

'The Bear, The Bees, Trees and Yellow Elephant' by Derek McGuire.

The Honey Hunter is doing as he pleases
Not giving a fuck about the worker bees
The big picture's not about the stumbling economy
Come along and support our bumbling ecology

Food for thought.....

Saturday 17 September 2011

Plight of the Bumblebees from NYC

Hello everyone,

Some of you will remember the amazing installation 'The Hunt' by Hannah Haworth that we were lucky enough to have in the gallery last December.  A magnificent knitted work of life-size dogs pulling a sledge.

Such is Hannah's love of the natural world, and such is her talent as an artist, she was one of the very first people we approached to contribute to the current exhibition, Plight of the Bumblebee. And, in her usual manner, she set about creating something special for us.  Here is the result:

A stunning army of life-size knitted bumblebees, 50 in total, which currently adorn our window sill.  They are made from merino wool, kindly donated by suppliers Malabrigo, and are perfect in every way.  Just have a look at this:

Hannah became a little obsessed with accuracy, and we are hugely grateful for all the work she put into this project.

Sadly for those of you who fancy a perfect little knitted bee, they are not for sale.  When you buy an artwork from this exhibition to support the bees, we are happy to give you one as a thank you.  Numbers are dwindling already.....

Hannah  also produced a limited run of 5 Honeybee Woodcuts that are also showing this month.  Each is numbered and unique, as well as being beautifully formed:

'Bee IV' by Hannah Haworth.

More bee news very soon.....

Wednesday 14 September 2011

The Assisi Bees!

Hello everyone

Well, we are still buzzing here at UG, and today we are taking a closer look at the Assisi Bees.

Firstly, I'd like to say a huge thanks to all 15 artists that have contributed to make 'Plight of the Bumblebee' a really magnificent exhibition. We are very grateful for all your hard work and genuine enthusiasm. So far your efforts have helped raised £700 for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Hurrah!

One of the artists is the lovely Janet Melrose who's successful solo show, 'A Still Life', wowed us all back in May. Janet is something of a catalyst for this exhibition. Having previously visited her amazing studio, I remember laying my hands on the most exquisite drawings of bees and being quite taken a back at how beautiful there were. The drawings planted the initial seed for a bee exhibition. Janet had started drawing bees after her daughter took part in a bee survey at Dundee University. Lets look at a real belter:

As you can see we used this beautiful drawing on the invite.

Janet made this particular piece back in the Easter holidays when she decided to make a drawing of a bee every day, and attempt to identify the different species she found. 'I liked the idea of repeating the same motif and allowing the drawing to grow' she explains.

On a recent holiday to Assisi (which became a working holiday, sorry a bout that Scott!), Janet drew bees and insects at every opportunity. Some of which were drawn on postcards from Assisi which resulted in these bees:


'Post Card from Assisi VI & III' by Janet Melrose.

Janet has captured the warmth and colour of the Mediterranean perfectly. The fact they are observed from real bees shines through: there is a freshness and energy in the work, and I think the bees look like they are crawling over the post cards. I love the bee in the above piece, just clinging on to his favourite tipple.

Here's how they look on the wall:

Perfectly observed and perfectly framed.

That's all the news on the Assisi Bees. Next up, it's New York Bees!

Lastly, what do Beekeepers and Ironmen have in company?? I'm not sure either, but I think I'm about to find out.....

Will keep you posted x

Monday 12 September 2011

Nancy The Greedy Bee!

Hello everyone

So as Hurricane Katia continues to give us a battering, I have been thinking about the poor wee bees even more of late.
Union Gallery's current exhibition, 'Plight of the Bumblebee' aims to raise funding for, and awareness of, the declining bee population. 20% of the proceeds of this exhibition will be donated to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust whose vital work you can read about here:

Instead of blustery winds and flattened barnets, I will attempt to transport you somewhere calm, warm and sunny. How about Nancy in France?

I will let glass making supremo Jessica Irena Smith take it from here, but first a quick look at her gorgeous bee inspired work:

'Bee Bowl I', kiln formed glass by Jessica Irena Smith.
The faded bee motif represents the decline in the bee population.

"I'm just back from France where I took on your challenge of finding a French bumble bee!  We were staying in Nancy, which is really beautiful (and an important city in the history of glass making), and has gorgeous parks.  I'd almost given up on finding a bumble bee in the park - there were lots of honey bees, but no bumbles - when I came across the lovely plump specimen in the photos!


He (or she?) was sitting so still that at first I thought he'd popped his clogs!  I think he'd just been a bit greedy and tired himself out (he was absolutely covered in pollen), because he eventually bumbled off to the next flower!

I've attached a few pics for you to see.  I know you'll be wondering how you can tell it's definitely a French bumble bee, but I'm sure this close up shot will leave you in no doubt....."


Alors! Je suis si plein je peux me deplacer a peine!

Hurry back for more busy bee action soon - next time they will be Assisi bees!

Time to buzz off!

Monday 5 September 2011

Plight of the Bumblebee!

Post Festival blues?
We have the answer.....

A beespoke exhibition that will help restore some buzz!

I will leave you with this wonderful photo of artist Jenny Matthews suited and booted and ready for action.
All will bee revealed.......

Saturday 3 September 2011

Fallen Leaves

Hello everyone

The good news is there's still time to see 'Still', award-winning artist Philip Braham's solo exhibition, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

You've probably noticed that Autumn arrived pretty sharpish this year!

Indeed, this (dodgy) photo was taken back in August and I was genuinely shocked to see the leaves had already started turning.
I had deliberately been out searching for fallen leaves as I am somewhat fascinated by a certain painting in Philip's exhibition:

"Fallen Leaves", Oil on Board by Philip Braham.
It's is a small painting...a real treasure... and so effective precisley for it's intimacy.

I enjoy the darkness and mystery, and I think Philip Braham has captured the moment perfectly.

I will 'leave' you with this ;) Have a great weekend all.