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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)

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Only Connect

Keil Beach, Argyll (top) and Red Poppies, both by Mike Healy, whose solo show at Thompson's Gallery in London ends this Sunday.

I love picking up on the little threads which bind the art world together.

A couple of weeks ago, my artist friend Charlie Jamieson called me to say he'd just met an old friend, Mike Healy at the funeral 'tea' in Glasgow Art Club for the celebrated artist James (Jimmy) Robertson, who sadly died recently and about whom I wrote at the time.

(If ever there was an event that Jimmy would have loved, it was this one. A gathering of the great and the good of Scottish art at his favourite haunt would have ticked all the right boxes for him. He even had his own chair by the fire!)

Coincidentally, I had just received the catalogue for Mike Healy's forthcoming solo show at Thompsons Gallery in London that day. Mike attended Glasgow School of Art (at the same time as Charlie, I think) and taught beside Jimmy Robertson for a good few years before heading off to divide his time between working in his studio in Kintyre and teaching at Lincoln University, where he 'holds a personal professorial chair in art and design.

Charlie knows about my interest in Joan Eardley - and he was excited because Mike Healy had just told him that he'd been finding out about Joan Eardley's time in Lincoln through a local historian. Eardley lived there briefly as a child and returned after the war to work on a commission for a mural for a short period.

Mike and I have been emailing back and forth about it and hopefully I'll be able find out more in good time.

I enjoyed flicking through his catalogue and though I like his landscapes, which are beautifully loose with real depth and colour, I absolutely loved his still lives which are so juicy, they burst off the page. Perhaps it was the dose of vital colour which I needed in the midst of gloomy January.

Mike's solo exhibition at Thompson's Gallery in Marylebone High Street (the last before it moves to Cavendish Street, I believe) ends this Sunday.

Click onto www.thompsonsgallery.com to see more.

In another of these little twists of the warp and weft of life, Jimmy Robertson has written an affectionate and insightful foreword in Mike's catalogue, which I reproduce here:

Mike has travelled widely, yet his painting is still informed by returning to the unspoilt West Coast of Scotland, to evocative places in Argyllshire and the wild unspoilt sea coasts of Mull, Iona, Kintyre and Jura. These places continue to astonish him in different ways. He enjoys contrasts, such as those found on the gentle Isle of Colonsay with the big landscapes of Ardnamurchan.

Landscape painting is not about scenery. It is not a “view”. It is what the artist does with that view that is essential. It is not just the sky, or the sea or the horizon that is important but it is the selection and technique of painting these
various elements that brings this to our notice that is important. Painting has always been more about poetry than prose.

The best of it is about being lyrical and evocative rather than painstakingly representative. This show of new works by Mike is about this careful and sensitive approach.

Mike invites you to share in his experience. The joy of connection between the artist and the audience is similar to appreciating a shared passage of music. In Mike’s painting the light of a winter day, the warmth of a summer evening,
the simple pleasure of a beach, the edge of time between the land and the sea or the flash of light on the sea all bring to us this shared pleasure.

Yet, paradoxically, most of what an artist paints nobody ever sees. It may simply not work, be edited out, over painted or destroyed. This lengthy research process sometimes, often miraculously, does come together and work. These then are the works that work and the ones that have survived this rigorous approach.


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