- The story so far
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org (All work © Jan Patience)
Monday, 18 January 2010
Left to right, Vase of Pink Roses by SJ Peploe, Hymervan monoprint series- Catterline II by Kate Downie and Ardvasar, Skye, by Sam Cartman
Every second week in The Herald, I write the Galleries section. I alternate with my estimable colleague, Sarah Urwin-Jones. Always a must-read if you're interested in an unpretentious guide to what's on in around the Scottish gallery scene... though we do venture south of the border occasionally.
This week, after my visit to The Fleming Collection in London for The Aspect Prize, I got fired up about their forthcoming Scottish Colourists show, which marks the start of their 10th anniversary celebrations. Read all about it below...
I also featured an exhibition of work by Sam Cartman, who happens to be new Aspect Prize winner Patricia Cain's husband.
Their work is very difference. Sam's work (such as the one pictures here, Skye, Ardvasar) has been developing over the last few years and there is often a spare beauty to it which, when it works, works astoundingly well.
Trish's highly-detailed studies of buildings under construction - as my friend Keren David pointed out - remind you of one of these recurring dreams in which you're standing in the middle of an unfinished building and you don't know why or when it'll take shape.
Trish works on a large scale and her paintings have to be seen to be fully appreciated.
For me, her construction studies are like giant puzzles, which start to put themselves together as you look deeper. The older I get, the more all our lives seem like a construct. Trish's paintings have an unsettling effect on me and I think Keren's comment about the anxiety dream hit the nail on the head. We're all looking to find 'the mind's construction', as Shakespeare put it. In this case, it's not in the face of a person, it's in the buildings we put together to house the clutter of our lives.
The third exhibition featured is Kate Downie's Coast Road Diaries. I am a huge fan of Downie's work.
KATE DOWNIE RSA: THE COAST ROAD DIARIES 2007-2009
Gracefield Arts Centre
28 Edinburgh Road, Dumfries
www.katedownie.com or www.dumgal.gov.uk/gracefield
Tuesday - Saturday, 10am - 5pm
From today until March 2
This exhibition by one of Scotland’s most energising artist is a must for any lover of Scottish art. A true labour of love, Kate Downie travelled around the coasts of Scotland in a campervan on and off for two years, tracking in words and pictures the spiritual homes of key Scottish artists who have inspired her in her own work.
The resulting exhibition, which premiered at the Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh late last year and moves on to Duff House in Banff in May, is a startlingly personal art history which informs as much as it engages.
The Diaries focuses on eight artists; Wilhelmina Barns-Graham (1912–2004), Muirhead Bone (1876–1953), Joan Eardley (1921–1963), Marian Leven (b.1944), Bet Low (1924–2007), Archie Sutter Watt (1915–2005), Sylvia Wishart (1936–2008) and Frances Walker (b.1930).
To this airing in Dumfries, Gracefield has added work from its collection by Eardley, Walker, Barns-Graham and local hero, Archie Sutter Watt.
Downie, who’s bravura approach to whichever medium she chooses to work in is instantly recognisable, has played a blinder in this exhibition. A consummate draughtswoman, no mark is made unknowingly and she brings a real maturity to bear on this new body of work.
Unlike most exhibition catalogues, the one which accompanies this one is a must-have for anyone who is hungry to read up on the key influences which shaped Scottish painting over the last 50 years.
Joan Eardley devotees, of whom there are many, including Downie, who had never visited Eardley’s spiritual home of Catterline prior to embarking on this journey - will be wowed by works such as The Watchie Path and a startling series of monoprints of Catterline Bay as seen from Downie’s Hymer campervan.
THE SCOTTISH COLOURISTS
The Fleming Collection
13 Berkeley Street, London W1
020 7409 5730
January 19 until April 1
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of its foundation as a charity, the Fleming Collection in central London is to show all its Scottish Colourists paintings together for the first time.
More than 30 works by Samuel John Peploe, Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, George Leslie Hunter and John Duncan Fergusson will go on public display this Tuesday as part of a series of exhibitions designed to mark the occasion.
The Fleming Collection started out in 1968 as a corporate collection belonging to London merchant bank, Robert Fleming & Co. Ltd (the family business of the writer, Ian Fleming) and has subsequently morphed into the only museum entirely devoted to Scottish art in the United Kingdom.
It was the brainchild of Aberdonian David Donald, who suggested to his fellow directors that some paintings would relieve the stark bareness of the office’s walls. Today it is widely regarded as the finest collection of Scottish art in private hands, comprising paintings, watercolours, drawings and prints from 1770 to the present day.
Until about 1980 Scottish art was under-rated by the market and Donald was able to acquire works by the Colourists for prices which seem modest today. In his first year as The Fleming Collection’s art buyer, he purchased four oils by the Colourists including Peploe’s A Vase of Pink Roses and Hunter’s Peonies in a Chinese Vase. Further acquisitions followed, but by the early 1980s Scottish painting was becoming better known internationally. Prices, particularly for the Colourists, rose sharply and it is significant that The Fleming Collection has bought only one Colourist oil painting during the past thirty years – Cadell’s The Feathered Hat in 1992.
This is a superb opportunity to see paintings by a group of artists who were never really a group in the first place - the term Scottish Colourists was coined in 1948, by which point only Fergusson was still alive - but who each assimilated contemporary developments in continental art and brought a new approach to painting in Britain.
AN EXHIBITION OF WORKS BY SAM CARTMAN
House for an Art Lover, Café Gallery
Bellahouston Park, 10 Dumbreck Road, Glasgow
0141 353 4770
www.samcartman.com and www.houseforanartlover.co.uk
Open daily from 10am-5pm
Jan 19-Mar 1
Shropshire lad Sam Cartman has been living in Scotland for several years and has a craftsmanlike approach to depicting his adopted homeland.
In this, his first solo exhibition, he has focused his attention on the Scottish landscape, particularly the west coast of Scotland, the Isle of Skye and the Angus coastline.
Cartman, who studied painting at Cumbria College of Art and Design, takes a very pure approach to his work, which has been popping up regularly at various venerable Scottish art institutions’ open exhibitions in the last few years and attracting attention from admiring buyers.
He also won one of the two main prizes in last year’s Nairn Open Art competition.
Cartman has a solid approach to his painting which derives from competence as a craftsman who revels in his materials.
There is a poetic spareness to his paintings of wide-open spaces, in the blue-greyness of the skies, or the carefully sculpted buildings which look as if they have been there for all time. Everything and nothing is left to chance. Even the foreground has a solidity which is always there in real time.
His paintings are like memories of passing through a place. Fixed and definite in our mind’s eye, but not picture postcard perfect and all the better for the instinctive use of paint and the tools he applies it with.