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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)

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Stewart Parker at The Park Gallery (The Herald Arts supplement 5/6/10)

Stewart Parker in his adopted home of New York and below, one of his mixed media pieces, One by One

I had a great chat across the pond with Stewart Parker a couple of weeks ago in advance of his new exhibition in his home town of Falkirk, which opened this weekend.

Hopefully, I'll get over to Falkirk to see this, the last ever exhibition, in my favourite wee gallery.

Stewart and I ended up talking about Grangemouth-born Alan Davie, who I interviewed for Homes & Interiors Scotland magazine's forthcoming July/Aug issue recently at his home near Hertford.

More info to follow in time on this - but suffice to say it was a career high for me. A privilege to meet one of the greats of post war modern European art.

Alan Davie @ 90 begins later this month at The Park Gallery in Callendar House.

EXHIBITION PROFILE: Stewart Parker: Time, Speed & Distance

The Park Gallery
Callendar Park, Falkirk
01324 506850
Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm, Sunday, 2pm-5pm
From today until June 20

Stewart Parker’s title for this, the valedictory exhibition of Falkirk’s gloriously inclusive small council run gallery, The Park Gallery, seems fitting on several different levels.
The Park Gallery’s tenth birthday celebrations this year should have been an opportunity to celebrate a gallery which has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2000, when an old stable block in Callendar Park was adapted and purpose-built with a mix of Scottish Arts Council and Lottery funding.
Instead, the Falkirk-born artist’s show will be the last in the gallery before it is closed and moved down the road into Callendar House – a handsome Georgian building - but not an art gallery by any stretch of the imagination.
The Park Gallery seems to have been an easy target for Falkirk Council. With one full-time employee and two part-time staff, it costs £50,000 per year to run and holds selling exhibitions which bring in a steady revenue stream. It has also established a reputation among artists and the wider community in the area as a stimulating venue which is punching above its weight in a bid to make visual art accessible to all.
Next month, The Park Gallery at Callendar House will host Alan Davie @ 90 as a tribute to local lad made good, Alan Davie, who was born and raised in nearby Grangemouth before going on to forge an international reputation.
The fact that the Davie exhibition is being held at all is testament to the tenacity and commitment of the staff at The Park Gallery, who have kept up a steady stream of high quality exhibitions, such as this new show by Stewart Parker.
In a neat time and distance link, while still at school in Falkirk, Parker wrote a dissertation on Davie. He cites the exhibition by the man he describes as an ‘international legend’ as a prime example of the kind of work which the Park Gallery has been doing so well over the last few years.
Glasgow School of Art textiles graduate, Parker has been living in New York for the last 12 years and distance has lent a form of enchantment to his latest body of work, which explores the relationship between time, distance and identity.
In this new body of work, Parker, who showed with the Compass Gallery prior to leaving for the States, has been working with old and new mediums.
Old mediums include plain old graphite and oil, while new mediums include sound and a commercial printer, with which he breaks all the rules. “In my studio, there is wet oil paint at one end and a computer plus other types of gadgetry at the other,” he says.
Comfortably segueing between disciplines, such as drawing and time-lapse animation to create atmospheric narratives which are strangely unsettling, yet affecting, the addition of sound to his palette, is an exciting direction which he says ‘changes the work completely’.
“The blurring of boundaries in artistic disciplines used to be frowned upon,” he says, down the line from New York before flying to Scotland for the opening of the exhibition. “But I think it’s changing and the computer has a lot to answer in this respect.
“As I’m acutely aware, living in New York and travelling back to Scotland regularly, the expansion of the internet has narrowed physical distance and time zones, and created a potential for a global language. The visual language is pre-verbal, and this body of work re-examines aspect of this language, particularly drawing, as one of the most ancient tools of human communication.”
Parker takes as his inspiration, the phenomenon of ‘pentimento’ an old painting term which refers to layers of a painting showing through with the passage of time. “Relying on chance and accident I work from memory in a stream-of-conscious manner intentionally using elements of pentimento to inform the work,” he explains. “In my work, I attempt to fuse ancient and new media, and explore the relationship of time, memory and identity, and the character archetypes which shape or earliest personal memories as well as our collective memory.”
The exhibition opens today, and Stewart Parker will be doing a talk about his work at the Park Gallery next Saturday, June 12, from 2-3pm. Admission is free but call 01324 506850 to book a place.

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