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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, 6 November 2009

New works by Aspect Prize Finalist Alec Galloway

In my line of business, it's either manic or panic (in business and at home), but on Wednesday, I had a quiet day on the work front and I thought I'd head down to Greenock for the opening of the Ladyburn Business Centre.
It was pure lashing as they say in these parts and my wee VW Polo ('older than me mum!' says my eight-year-old) struggled against the elements.
I was so glad that I made the effort though.
Current Aspect prize finalist, Alec Galloway, has three new glass pieces in the refurbished Victorian school and it was he who flagged up the existence of this new centre for artists and social enterprise to me. The project has been overseen by Riverside Inverclyde, a local-authority-backed urban regeneration company.
The opening was carried out by the fabulously gorgeous poster girl for Scottish contemporary art, Alison Watt, a native of Greenock. Alison is a fine speaker. Very articulate and in this setting, flanked by the paintings of her dad, James Watt, quite emotional as she stood in front of a packed audience, which included her dad and her sister, Pauline.
She made the point that art and design can have a positive impact on innovation and regeneration in an area like Inverclyde.
James Watt has been painting Greenock, particularly the area around the water, since he was a young man and his pure approach to painting has obviously rubbed off on his daughter. I had a good chat with James, who is clearly very proud of Alison and his three other children. He made the point that Alison always had the determination and intellectual rigour to succeed in her chosen field.
It was great to meet James, as I wrote a lengthy piece for a book celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Glasgow Group, a couple of years ago, and he was one of the founder members. He made the point to me that when he was a young man the very idea of making a living as a painter was laughable.
Interestingly, he said his most productive period in painting was when he was a young married man with four kids, a house to renovate, a full time teaching job and a part-time job at Glasgow School of Art.
Which just goes to prove the old adage, grass doesn't grow on a busy street!
Alec Galloway's glasswork is stunning in this setting. Like all his glasswork, it is so sensitive to the the environment he places it in. The ceiling panels really change the corridor in which they've been placed, flooding light in the most calming way. His window in a stairwell incorporates elements of the view out to the Firth of Clyde beyond as well as motifs which relate to the fishing and shipbuilding heritage of his home town of Greenock. And, of course, his famous crows make an appearance. Like black hooded talismen always watching out for the next wave...
The Ladyburn Centre deserves to become a key player in the regeneration of Greenock. As you drive into Greenock, it's just on the left hand side of the dual carriageway as you leave Port Glasgow.
In front of the twin-turreted building, the sculptor Keith McCarter has placed Aspiration, an 8m high stainless steel sculpture which looks set to become a marker for anyone leaving - or entering Greenock.
A great art high for me on a dreich Wednesday.

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