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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, 26 April 2010

Glen Scouller @ Sixty published in The Herald 24/4/10


Dusk, Irvine Valley, Winter

(Will upload more pix once I work out resizing...)

Roger Bilcliffe Gallery
134 Blythswood Street, Glasgow
0141 332 4027
Mon-Fri, 9.30-5.30pm, Sat, 10am-1pm
From today until May 18

Let’s starts with a cliché. Every cloud has a silver lining. Quite literally in the case of Glen Scouller, who celebrates his 60th birthday today (Saturday 24th) with the opening of a new solo exhibition, Scouller @ Sixty. One of the key paintings in this new exhibition of some 80 or so works features a silver-rimmed Ayrshire cloud at dusk, puffed up with black sleety menace on a bitterly cold winter’s day.
It’s the kind of scene which sends amateur photographers racing for their tripods, but Scouller, a master of plein air painting lives among this kind of scenery on a daily basis and a mastery of his subject matter is plain for all to see.
There is a consummate ease in his handling of space as well as paint which seems to come naturally to Scouller, be it in one of his vivacious still-lifes, in a painting of the long shadows of Puglia in southern Italy, or on his doorstep at the Ayrshire farmhouse, in which he and his graphic designer wife, Carol, have lived for the last decade.
The couple have two grown-up daughters, Kim, a former Aspect Prize winner, now living in London, and Lara, who is carving out a reputation as a talented young artist to watch.
Scouller has clearly passed on his unerring eye for detail and special awareness to both his girls. In his work, he has an eye which acts almost like a shutter to filter out dust motes from a scene and present it in a beautifully composed, sensuously-charged way. Scouller clearly loves paint and his mastery of it appears effortless.
Making beautiful paintings and surviving as a working artist is a tricky balancing act to pull off, but since Scouller gave up teach in 1989 to concentrate on painting full-time, he has become one of Scotland’s most sought-after contemporary artists.
Silver linings and clouds, in the shape of patronage from one Sir Fred Goodwin have marked this Glasgow-born painter’s recent career.
The former Chief Executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland is a fan of Scouller’s work and at one time had a Scouller painting called Afternoon Shadows hanging in his office at Gogarburn, while another, Studio Floor, Dove on Chair, was a particular favourite.
There are currently around 70 of Scouller’s paintings in the RBS art collection, which is reputed to be valued at around £20m.
“Fred Goodwin was the young star at the time when the collection was being built up,” says Scouller. “They actually bought around 70 of my paintings, not 20, as has been reported. Some were from private art galleries, but I know that they bought quite a few at auction.”
If Goodwin was thinking of parting with some of his much criticised pension fund to invest in some Scoullers of his own, he would be well advised to beat a path to the Bilcliffe Gallery in Glasgow, where there are some fine examples on show.
Scouller first exhibited in this space with Roger Bilcliffe when in 1985 when Bilcliffe was director of The Fine Art Society and has had various exhibitions there over the years.
In 1989, when he exhibited with The Glasgow Group at the Tramway in Glasgow (his art teacher at Garthamlock Secondary had been Jim Spence, the terrier-like driving force of the group), he took a business-like approach to his craft, which has stayed with him ever since. ‘As from July 1989,’ he wrote in the catalogue, ‘I shall be a full-time painter. I look forward to the challenge.’
Another exhibitor in this first ever visual art exhibition at Tramway, Douglas Gordon (also a past pupil of Spence), has also gone on to greater things, albeit at different ends of the visual art merry-go-round.
Do date, Scouller has had 36 solo exhibitions in the UK and South Africa (where his work is avidly collected), and been involved in numerous group and mixed exhibitions in Scotland and abroad.
Always eager for fresh challenges, Scouller says he is keen to ‘get back into sculpture’ and has plans for making new work as he gets into the swing of his sixties.
“I’ve always done a bit of sculpture work but haven’t shown it much,” he says. “We have studios in the farmhouse. But now that my daughters have left home and no longer need one, I’m planning to turn the other into a sculpture studio. I’m quite excited about it.”
Watch this space.

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