Sunday, 27 November 2011

Into The Wilderness

"Into The Wilderness", oil and mixed media on canvas by Alison Auldjo.

And upon the crumping snows
Stamps, in vain, to warm his toes.
Leaves are fled, that once had power
To resist a summer shower;
And the wind so piercing blows,
Winnowing small the drifting snows,
The summer shade of loaded bough
Would vainly boast a shelter now:
Piercing snows so searching fall,
They sift a passage through them all.
Though all's vain to keep him warm,
Poverty must brave the storm.
Friendship none, its aid to lend:
Health alone his only friend;
Granting leave to live in pain,
Giving strength to toil in vain;
To be, while winter's horrors last,
The sport of every pelting blast.

Poems descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery, 1820

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Secret Lives of Artists

Hello everyone,

The title of this blog is a little misleading. It should be called 'The Secret Lives of Artists' Partners' but it didn't look so good when I typed it in.....

You probably know that our current exhibition is a solo one of work by my wife and business partner, Alison Auldjo, entitled 'Gone to Earth' - and very beautiful it is too.  As well as the bountiful praise that has been heaped on the work there have been some supeb reviews - just reward for such an artistic tour de force.

Much has been made of how Alison fought with the work and how that has been transferred onto the canvas, but I though I might give you a little insight into how the process of creating an exhibition affects the artist's nearest and dearest. Those of you who are close to an artist may just recognise some of my thoughts on the matter.

It is impossible for anyone to really appreciate the stress, angst and downright grumpiness of the artist at work until you have experienced it yourself.  Alison and I have been married for 18 months, and at least 12 of those months have been a living hell because of the impending storm that is 'Gone to Earth'.  Night after night of tantrums, self-doubt and the searching for reassurance take their toll on you - even more so because as a mere bystander there is very little you can do about it.  Of course, you can remind the talented one just how good they are, and you can give an inciteful critique of the work as it emerges, but it really won't help - trying to convince an artist that they are doing the right thing is like trying to convince a banker that they shouldn't take their bonus; even if they know you're right they won't listen. Here's the maestro at just such a moment:

A tired and emotional Alison Auldjo in her studio.
Of course, there are great highs when a work is completed or is coming along well, but even that is fraught with danger.  You cannot avoid the 'does my bum look big in this' moment when you try and be constructive but nothing you say will be right!  The world of the artist, bearing their soul for all to see, is a confusing one for those of us who are not that way inclined.....I am relieved that I only have to go through it by association.

The end result, however, is an exhibition of astonishingly powerful and beautiful paintings that mean even more to me because I truly appreciate what it has taken to create them.  Visitors to the gallery are responding so well to the work that it fills me with pride and not a little emotion.  Just have a look at this:

'Safety in Numbers', oil on canvas, by Alison Auldjo

And this:

'Into the Wilderness', oil on canvas, by Alison Auldjo

And finally, at this:

'Open Spaces', oil on canvas, by Alison Auldjo

If you haven't been in to see the work, you really should before  the exhibition closes on 5th December - it is an exhibition full of subtlety and beauty.  

The exhibition may have had a painful birth, but it was worth it and I wouldn't have had it any other way.


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Brothers in Arms II

Hello everyone,

We have some more insightful words about Alison Auldjo's solo exhibition, Gone to Earth, from those in the know.  Firstly from brilliant abstract artist Trevor Jones:
'Rarely, if ever, has a great gallery owner also been a great artist. Check out the latest exhibition @UNIONgallery1 - Alison Auldjo has pulled out all the stops and put on an absolutely stunning and inspiring show. Congrats to Alison and also to the Union Gallery for breaking all the rules!'

'Run and Hide', oil on canvas, by Alison Auldjo

And secondly, Glasgow painter Annette Edgar simply says: 'Visual poetry'.

I couldn't have put it better myself, many thanks to you both.

If you haven't made it along to see Alison's stunning exhibition yet, you really should......


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Brother in Arms

Hello everyone,

I just wanted to share a few words that mean a lot to me concerning my solo exhibition, 'Gone to Earth'.

Running an art gallery is a very special job and I consider it quite an honour. We get to exhibit the work of many exceptional talents and take our role in the career of these talents very seriously, seeing it as a privilege to be part of that.  However, at UG we believe that our relationship with many artists is not purely about the business of art,
and that you form a bond or a partnership with those you work with.

That is why the the thoughts of outstanding artist Dylan Lisle are important to me, and when he writes about my work I sit up and listen.  This entry on his blog means a great deal to me: 

I hope you like it too.  Thanks, Dylan

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Wise Words Indeed

Hello everyone,

There's a good chance that you've already seen Alan McIntosh's brilliant review of Alison's beautiful exhibition, Gone to Earth, but if you haven't just follow the line below.  It is a superb piece of writing that Alison feels sums up her work better than she can: 

Here's a look at another of the works in this exhibition, which I do hope you all get the chance to come and see.

'The Longest Day with Angel, Devil and a Hare', oil on canvas, by Alison Auldjo.

See you all soon.

Friday, 11 November 2011

'Gone to Earth' is go!

 Hello everyone,

Alison's solo exhibition, 'Gone to Earth', opens tonight.  Be prepared for a real feast for the eyes!

'Silent Observers of the Passing Seasons', oil on canvas, by Alison Auldjo.

"I would describe my work as a personal response to, and need of, the landscape as a means of release, appreciation and escapism.
My paintings are not necessarily traditional or representational and it is only recently I have realised that there is an important element of autobiography in the work. I turn to, and rely on, the landscape to express emotions. I find that it is in natural surroundings that I can realise my inner most feelings: be they joy, uncertainty or longing. Often I deliberately seek out the remotest places, or most comforting, to reflect upon and record important developments in my life.
I find landscape matches my ideas and my “style” of painting very well - it is endless, full of possibility and non-restrictive. There is also an obvious, untampered beauty in the landscape that one can only aspire too.  I strive and embrace the challenge of achieving painterly qualities. I like paintings that demonstrate how the work was fought with and nurtured. I like “battle scars”, mark-making and layers of thought. I tend to stop at nothing to achieve the effects I want.
The majority of work in this exhibition was produced in the summer, in a small wooden chalet near the Solway Firth.  It is a place that I have visited many times to make work and, although it may sound like an idyllic setting, the actual process was hell for me.  On speaking to a regular visitor to the gallery recently, he made a comment about artists producing their best work when they are under pressure and in times of need.  Perhaps that’s true but in the time I spent there, I forced myself to reflect upon, and get to grips with, what my work is actually about and that led me to some pretty dark places.  Having spent so much time getting inside the ‘zones’ of other artists and working out what makes them tick, I knew I had to force myself to do the same thing.  It was a very stressful and emotional experience that I would not choose to go through again (although I know I will), but ultimately out of that experience came some of the strongest paintings in the exhibition and, I believe, some of the best work I have ever produced.

This exhibition is titled ‘Gone to Earth’, after the Mary Webb novel of the same name, and I have tried to use the landscape as a metaphor for the need of artists and, indeed, the wider public to support each other and help each other in these difficult economic and social times.  With titles such as ‘Safety in Numbers’ and ‘Run and Hide’, much of this new work has a melancholy feel to it and perhaps an edge of uncertainty - a comment on the situation in which we find ourselves – yet even in these dark times there is still beauty to be found." 

Alison Auldjo
November 2011

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


Looking forward to seeing you all shortly.......

Saturday, 5 November 2011

The Genji Series

Hello everyone,

I hope that you're all enjoying the beautiful autumn weather we've been having this week, and that it's keeping you in a positive frame of mind.  If not, then you still have 3 days left to come and see some beautiful paintings inspired by autumn at the gallery, and they are guaranteed to inspire you.

One of the artists exhibiting is gallery regular Mark Nichols Edward, whose instantly recognisable paintings of exotic fish are always so popular. In fact, we are lucky enough to own a superb Mark Edward painting ourselves.  His paintings seem to have an extremely calming and positive effect on all who view them: just this morning a client commented that he felt he could put his hand into the painting and actually stroke the fish - what a lovely concept.  Mark's work is constantly developing with new techniques and concepts appearing all the time, but it has to be said that for this exhibition he has really excelled himself, producing what I believe to be his best work so far.  just take a look at this:


'Genji I', acrylic on canvas, by Mark Nicholas Edward.
A real beauty, isn't it?  One of a series of 9 Genji paintings we have in the gallery.

Mark always uses interesting titles, and the use of Genji is no exception.  Genji, a story written by the Japanese noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu in the early 11th century, is generally considered to be the world's first novel.  In very, very simple terms it is a tale of love and passion that follows the lives of many characters from childhood to old age.  It documents how they change and develop over that time, and Mark has long likened this to the changing of the seasons - how appropriate for an exhibition entitled The Onslaught of Autumn.  Just like his meticulous paintings, his use of such a title is thoughtful and clever.

Feel free to pop in for a look if you have the time.

Speak soon.