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I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on janpatience@me.com (All work © Jan Patience)

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Cowal Open Studios weekend (25-28 Sep 09) as published in The Herald, 19/09/09 PLUS Galleries round-up



Across the Cowal Peninsula, Argyll
01369 860099
Friday September 25 - Monday September 28

To call a road the Rest and be Thankful is a very particularly Scottish thing to do. You can just imagine in centuries gone by, a weary soldier in full Highland regalia trudging along this bleakly exposed stretch of the road to the isles turning to his mates and sighing: ‘Lads, we’re all doomed, but let‘s rest and be thankful we‘ve come this far.’
At the time of writing this, much to the non-Presbyterian joy of the organisers of the 2nd Cowal Open Studios, the main route into Argyll had reopened after being closed for four days following an intensive period of heavy rain and gales. During the rainstorm, 1,070 tons of debris thundered down the hillside and on to the road making it impassable and causing a 55-mile detour.
One of the hazards of organising a major event such as an Open Studios weekend in a place like the Cowal Peninsula is being at the mercy of the elements, but according to one of the organisers, textile artist Jean Donaldson, the invitation to have a nosey around artist and makers studios will stand, come rain, hail or shine.
‘Last year was the first year we held the Cowal Open Studios,’ she explains and we were all a bit unsure about how it would go, but it went extremely well, which probably accounts for the fact that the number of participating artists has now risen from 29 to 44.
‘This is not just about hosting a weekend event which lets artists make a fast buck. It’s about getting people to recognise where the Cowal Peninsula is… that it can be a very quick getaway from Glasgow, via the ferry from Gourock to Dunoon or by road over the Rest and Be Thankful.
‘At the same time, we want to build up a mutually supportive network of artists and makers as there’s a lot of us working here and there is strength in numbers. We have a dream of one day having an arts hub in Cowal and by organising an event such as this, we’re working towards that dream.’
There are some real hidden treasures to be found along the trail in Cowal next weekend, which is a holiday weekend in the Glasgow area, such as glass artist Anne Ferguson’s studio in an old chapel or painter Nicola Wilk’s beautiful home studio at Otter Ferry.
Artists are drawn to the more exposed and remote parts of Scotland because of its natural beauty, but in Cowal they have the best of both worlds - close links to the main population hubs of the central belt within a Highland setting.
Acclaimed painter, John Kingsley is one artist who moved from Glasgow to Strachur in recent years. He will be sharing his studio space for the weekend with another Glasgow émigré, the painter Jacqueline Orr, who has also been inspired by the scenery around Loch Fyne.
Ayrshire-born artist Pam Glennie will also be opening up her home and studio in Strone, near Dunoon, to all comers following an intensive period of what she calls ‘hoovering up the pastel dust‘ which falls from her easel. Glennie, who previously worked as a designer moved to the area a couple of years ago and has developed a distinctive free style over the last year years, using mainly pastel and acrylics to create expressively luminous scenes inspired by the coastline around her new home.
For a sneak preview of what to expect, tomorrow (Sunday Sep 20) sees the opening of the Cowal Open Studios Exhibition at the famous Creggans Inn at Strachur in which all 44 participating artists and makers will have work on show. The event opens at 3pm and ends at 6pm but the exhibition will continue until Monday September 28.
As well as studio visits, there are a number of other events planned around next weekend, including free workshops, talks and demonstrations in many of the venues.
Art and music often goes hand-in-hand and there will be a traditional hoolie-type concert in Strachur Memorial Hall next Saturday night which includes Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop, and four-piece contemporary folk group Rallion as well as world class harpists, Ailie Robertson and Tristan Le Govic.


Glasgow Print Studio
Trongate 103, Glasgow
0141 552 0704
Tue-Sat, 10am-5.30pm, Sunday, 12pm-5pm
Until November 1

This is the year for Scottish print studios to be looking back in wonder at their back catalogue and making a statement to the wider world about it. Earlier this summer, Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen (which started life as Peacock Printmakers) celebrated 35 years of ‘Great Stuff’ by hosting an exhibition of highlights from the last three decades.
Now it is the turn of Glasgow Print Studio, which notches up its 30th year with a move into the brave new world of new Glasgow arts hub, Trongate 103.
Their fantastic new space spans three floors and it will be the venue for a rotating programme of exhibitions, talks, tours and hands-on activities.
The inaugural exhibition takes up the ground floor and first floor of this space and is the culmination of the initial stages of a larger archive project. For the last two years, archive curator Kerry Paterson has been delving into the darkest reaches of the old print studio on King Street, cataloguing and conserving art works, printing blocks and plates, drawings and associated objects to ensure its preservation.
Numerous treasures have been unearthed, among them the original prints made by Alasdair Gray for his groundbreaking novel, Lanark.
These astonishing prints, a virtuoso blend of visual and mark-making poetry, are now on display in this exhibition, along with several works by fellow grand Scottish master of letters and visual art, John Byrne.
This really is an show to savour and also features some stunning prints by the likes of Elizabeth Blackadder, Barbara Rae, Christine Borland, Martin Boyce and Steven Campbell, all of whom have benefited from facilities and expertise provided by GPS.

PATRICIA CAIN: Recent work from Florence and Glasgow
House for an Art Lover Café Gallery
Bellahouston Park, 10 Dumbreck Road, Glasgow
0141 353 4770
www.houseforanartlover.co.uk and www.patriciacain.com
Open daily 10am – 5pm.
From Sep 22-Nov 2

As a precociously talented, but shy 18-year-old, Patricia Cain left her home in the north east of England to study her first love of art at St Martin’s College of Art in London. She left after a year and returned home to train as a lawyer.
Cain ended up running her own practice for 15 years in Carlisle specialising in medical negligence and personal injury work and moved to Glasgow in 2001, where she gained the necessary qualifications to practise law in Scotland.
Art was always pulling at her in the background and, for the last five years, she has been working as an artist, bringing an almost forensic approach to her highly-detailed drawings and paintings of buildings, either in a state of construction or complete. Last year, she was awarded a doctorate from Glasgow School of Art for her analysis of how drawing helps our understanding of the world around us, due to be published in book form early next year.
Her recent work focuses on the development along the banks of the River Clyde in
Glasgow, including the New Riverside Museum, designed by Zaha Hadid, and caught the eye of Aspect Prize judges earlier this year, when they short listed her for this year’s £15,000 prize.
This past year has yielded a bumper crop of accolades for the Glasgow-based artist and writer. Last year, Cain was the inaugural winner of the House for an Art Lover award at the RGI Annual Exhibition and this exhibition of work at House for an Art Lover is the result. The show features studies of both Glasgow and Florence and includes a huge, intricately detailed triptych depicting a panoramic sweep over rust-coloured Florence rooftops.
She was also recently awarded the RSA Kinross Scholarship and the RSW Hospitalfield Residency this year.

The Meffan
20 West High Street, Forfar
01307 464123
Monday to Saturday, 10am-5pm
From today until Oct 17

Helen Glassford is another award-winning artist who hails originally from the north east of England, and who found inspiration in the highways and byways of Scotland.
Unlike Patricia Cain, who looks to the intricacies of man-made constructions to understand the world around her, Glassford (a runner-up in the 2007 Jolomo Lloyds TSB Landscape Painting Awards) finds poetry in what she describes as ‘the gloom and glory’ of the Scottish wilderness.
The Jolomo Awards brought this young Dundee-based artist’s distinctive work to the attention of a wider audience and this exhibition in the newly-refurbished Meffan Gallery in Forfar unveils 35 new paintings.
Glassford explains: ‘The show is the result of a year’s research and will hopefully be seen as an honest depiction of my forays into the remote hills and glens of Scotland and my search for the natural sublime. The translation onto canvas results in an eclectic mix of sunshine and showers, mists on hillsides, lost summits, and burnt heather, all inspired by the vistas encountered on my wanderings.’
According to one of her champions, Tony Davidson, owner of the Kilmorack Gallery near Beauly, Glassford’s work is just as much about paint and energy as it is about the landscape. ‘Landscapes are hard to paint;‘ he says. ‘They are too vast and too changeable to capture in a single composition of hill, sky and river. But Glassford gets under the surface of it and captures the deeper more abstract qualities of a place.’


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