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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)

Monday, 14 September 2009

High Road to High Art: Modern Print Masters in Aberfeldy (published on Sep 5 09 in The Herald's ABC section)


Watermill Gallery
Mill Street, Aberfeldy
01887 822896
Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm, Sun, 11am-5pm. Late opening Thurs, until 7pm
From today until November 2

You can always rely on Picasso for a quote to pin down the essence of an artistic principle. One of my favourite sayings by the great man is that ‘art is the elimination of the unnecessary.’
In the field of printmaking, this could almost be the mantra by which he or she stands or falls.
In this digital age, there is something infinitely satisfying about living with a lovingly hand crafted print, which stands or falls on the deftest of touches and the innate artistry of its maker.
Picasso was one of a small group of young Paris-based artists in the early years of the 20th century who pushed the barriers of printmaking to limits never seen before in a bid to introduce affordable artworks to the general public.
This group, which included Braque and Matisse, set the bar high for other artists who turned to printmaking as an exciting, more accessible alternative to painting.
Anyone who is interested in the work of modern print masters, from Picasso to Banksy, should take the high road this autumn to check out The Watermill Gallery’s fifth consecutive exhibition on this very theme.
With prices ranging from £100 for a print by 20th century French artist Maurice Esteve to £4,500 for a David Hockney from his California swimming pool series, and £6,750 for a screenprint by London-based graffiti artist D*Face, over 50 works by more than 30 artists from Britain and Europe are on display and on sale at prices which are within dreaming range of most people.
As a bonus, two delicate etchings by Picasso (unsigned but highly collectible) are on sale at £1,400, comparing with online prices of around £3,000 for similar work.
Owners Kevin and Jayne Ramage have acquired a fine body of work for this show, which also includes work by Victor Passmore, Quentin Blake, Sonia Delaunay, Terry Frost, Sandra Blow, Victor Vasarely and Stanley Hayter.
Scotland is well represented, with prints by veteran Scottish pop artist, Gerald Laing, young Angus-based printmaker, Hetty Haxworth and Kenny Hunter available.
According to the Watermill’s Kevin Ramage, although the art market is still in recovery, there are signs, he says that people are beginning to look at art as an investment. “I’m not advocating buying art as a speculative investment,” he says. “You should always buy art because you like it, but I get the feeling thought that people are thinking, ‘well, I still have my job… have a tracker mortgage. Why not, buy art? At least I’ll have the pleasure of living with it.’”
Ramage also believes that a younger audience are turning to art, especially original prints. “We held an exhibition of urban art here earlier this year in which we showed work by the likes of Banksy, Blek le Rat and D*Face. We weren’t sure how it would all work in a highland setting, but it was one of the most successful shows we’ve ever held.
“We have included a small number of pieces by Banksy and Dolk in this exhibition which fit with the graphic genre of the rest of the work.”
The pleasing thing about an exhibition like this is it doesn’t feel too worthy although the people behind it are clearly passionate about their subject matter. If you love books and good coffee with your art, then you’ll be in clover in Aberfeldy this autumn.

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