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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)

Friday, 13 November 2009

A chance to see the work of Abigail McLellan, creator of that wonderful title image on this blog


I got an email yesterday morning from Alasdair Wallace, husband of the artist Abigail McLellan, who died last month at the age of just 40 from complications brought on by the MS she'd been battling for 10 years.
Ali was writing to say he'd just hung a dozen pictures by Abby in the foyer area of WASPS Studios in Hansen Street, Dennistoun, Glasgow.
I was writing my copy for next week's Herald, but couldn't wait to see them, so I called my pal Sue Biazotti, who introduced me to Ali and Abby earlier this year, and we went down to meet him for a quick coffee. Sue took this picture of Ali and me in front of the paintings, which I have to say are just bursting with energy and life.
As Sue pointed out, these pictures bring real energy to this space.
From my personal point of view, looking at Abby's paintings allows me to think. I find myself starting to make connections I've never made before. There's just something so striking about her pared down use of colour and form which sparks off an almost neural reaction.
I met Abby earlier this year when I interviewed her just before her last exhibition with Rebecca Hossack in London and although sadly it was the first and only time we met, I was very inspired by her sheer brio and joie de vie. Despite being wheelchair bound and struggling to speak by that stage, we connected very quickly. Probably meeting new people was a strain because of her difficulty with speech, but my mum had a major stroke two years ago and struggles with speech, so it didn't faze me.
I left her studio (relctantly) filled with excitement, my mind bursting with possibilties.
I set up this blog not long after our meeting because I felt very strongly that the kind of creative energy released by artists such as Abby is not celebrated enough.
Allium on Blue, the title image on this blog radiates the kind of energy she had in person and it's become a motif for the way I think of art.
Most people in her position, their body crushed by such a cruel disease such as MS, would have given up much earlier, but as Ali pointed out, Abby's art sustained her.
She didn't give in, she found ways round about the disease. She became a serial surfer of the net in search of aids to make her art happen, no doubt driving Ali mad in the process.
She found a stencil machine to help make sea fan pictures, and the process brought a new dimension to her depiction of these other-worldly creatures. It's just one example of the many creative routes she engineered to get things moving.
Just as the house becomes a prison for some people blighted by MS, Abby made it her business to be in her studio almost every day, even though in the end she made her art with the assistance of her husband and another friend. She was in the studio the day before she went into hospital for the last time. She expected to be back.

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