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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, 28 November 2010

The Glasgow Girls and gallery round up

I'm a bit behind with posting last week's gallery page in The Herald arts supplement (20/11/10)
The image above is of The Silk Dress by Eleanor Allan Robertson and is currently on show at Glasgow School of Art's Glasgow Girls exhibition. My friend Angela lays out and subs the arts section at the Herald and she emailed to ask me about the image after I sent it. I didn't know much about the artist, so I googled her and was taken aback when I realised she attended Kilmarnock Academy - my old school.
The image at the top is The Halo Tree by Louise Higgins. She has work on show at the Compass Gallery in Glasgow during the festive season. I met Louise through Alasdair Wallace. Ali's late wife Abigail McLellan (the artist behind the beautiful title image of this blog) and Louise were great friends. She has been painting full time for the last few months and she is definitely a talent to watch.

Exhibition Profile

The Glasgow Girls 1890-1930
Mackintosh Museum, Glasgow School of Art, 167 Renfrew St, Glasgow
0141 353 4500
Until December 20, 2010 (Free)

Earlier this year, the artists’ town of Kirkcudbright celebrated the work of a group of female artists who in the last 20 years have come to be known as The Glasgow Girls, by staging a major exhibition of their work in Kirkcudbright Town Hall.
For anyone who missed it, this outstanding exhibition of over 100 exhibits, which includes paintings, as well as decorative and applied art, has now moved northwards from Kirkcudbright to Glasgow School of Art (GSA).
It is particularly appropriate that GSA is hosting this second leg of the exhibition as many of the artists represented - Annie French, Margaret Gilmour, Norah Neilson Gray, Jessie M King, Frances and Margaret Macdonald, Jessie Newbery, to name but a few – were all connected to Glasgow’s famous art school in some way. All benefitted from the egalitarian approach of its charismatic director, Fra Newberry, who was head of the school from 1885 until 1917.
The exhibition has been curated by Liz Arthur, formerly a Glasgow Museums curator, who was involved in the last major exhibition on the Glasgow Girls in Glasgow in 1988, which also took place at GSA. Arthur has also written a new book to coincide with the exhibition, Glasgow Girls: Artists and Designers 1890-1930.
Arthur and her team have brought together over 100 exhibits, provided by the three main Scottish collections of Glasgow Girls work; Glasgow Museums (Glasgow Life), The Glasgow School of Art and the Hunterian Art Gallery.
Following the hugely successful Glasgow Boys exhibition at Kelvingrove, which has now transferred to The Royal Academy in London, interest in this era is currently at an all-time high and this exhibition serves as a fascinating counterpoint, augmenting our knowledge of what was a key period in terms of the development of the so-called Glasgow Style.
The term Glasgow Girls is a relatively new one. Coined in the late 1980s, it has now come to be associated with women artists and designers in the west of Scotland working during the final years of the 19th century and in the first few decades of the 20th century. It was originally applied to raise the profile of these women whose work, although recognised in its day, had become largely neglected.
Many of the women studied at Glasgow School of Art as a means of accessing further education as university attendance was denied women in Scotland until 1892.
Their distinctive style emerged out of a strong interest in the Aesthetic Movement, the Celtic folk revival and Japanese Art, as well as the work of artists such as Jan Toorop and Aubrey Beardsley. International art journals such as Ver Sacrum, Dekorative Kunst and The Studio, were widely read at GSA and this backdrop, combined with a rigorous training, created a melting pot of internationally shared ideas and philosophies.
As early as 1884, a GSA-hatched group, known as The Four, featuring the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Herbert McNair and the Macdonald sisters, Margaret and Frances, was attracting attention with their elongated symbolic images, with stylised human and interlaced plant forms. Dubbed The Spook School, the group’s work morphed into to a strongly cohesive design philosophy using a shared vocabulary of motifs in a variety of different media which came to be used widely.
The now familiar forms of roses, birds in flight, butterflies, elongated human figures and curves, contrasted with taut lines and a restricted palette of muted colours came to speak to us all in a language instantly recognisable as The Glasgow Style.
If you would like to find out more about this fascinating period in Scottish art, a series of free 20-minute lunchtime lectures will be taking place for the duration of this exhibition at GSA. This Thursday (Nov 25), curator Liz Arthur introduces the history of The Glasgow Girls and their time at The Glasgow School of Art.


178 West Regent Street, Glasgow
0141 221 6370
Until end of January

The annual Compass Gallery Christmas show first saw the light of day 42 years ago under the inspired guidance of gallery founder Cyril Gerber and has since become an annual west of Scotland Christmas institution for art lovers.
Now run on a day-to-day basis by Cyril’s daughter, Jill, the Compass has a long tradition of bringing the work of well-kent faces to the party and mixing it up with the work of exciting newcomers. Viewers will not be disappointed by this year’s Christmas offering.
Taking Cyril’s lead, Jill and her team have been out and about round artists’ studios and in her words: “We are excited! We’ve seen new ideas and new versions of old ideas, and we are presenting this all in the same venue where the original inspiration first began 42 years ago.
“More than ever these days the artists really value the public appreciation and practical support gained by people visiting and viewing this fresh and exciting exhibition.
In this compact venue, there is a vast array of work on display, from paintings to prints, sculpture, jewellery and ceramics.
Among the well known names are Will Maclean, Philip Reeves, Kate Downie, Alasdair Wallace, Dave Cohen and Elizabeth Blackadder.
Other artists forging a name for themselves include Lara Scouller, Emma Waine and Louise Higgins. There will also be work from new graduates.

The Park Gallery
Callendar House
Callendar Park, Falkirk
01324 503789
Until January 8, 2011

Now the nights have really drawn in and we’re all reaching for hats, gloves and scarves, the idea of an exhibition called Winter Warmth really comes into its own. This is the sixth Winter Warmth exhibition brought to fruition by the Park Gallery, now rehoused in the ground floor of Callendar House in Falkirk.
In the last six years, this exhibition has developed a reputation for bringing the work of the UK’s finest craft makers to the attention of the wider world.
Featuring the work of 25 artists, designers and craft makers from Scotland and beyond, the focus of this year’s exhibition is sustainability. The emphasis is very strongly on quality contemporary design that demonstrates innovative use of sustainably produced materials, or has been created using techniques which minimise environmental impact.
“We’re tremendously excited about this exhibition of sustainability and eco-friendly design at the Park Gallery in Callendar House,” says Arts Development Officer, Gillian Smith. “All work is for sale and available to take away. It’s a great opportunity to see innovative artwork of the highest standard, and offers up an irresistible choice if you’re looking for unique ideas for your Christmas shopping.”
Artists taking part include; basket maker Lise Bech, Vivien Johnston of Glasgow-based specialist luxury jewellers, Fifi Bijoux, furniture makers Lyle McCance and Joachim King and Evie Milo, who is gaining a reputation for her ‘upcycled’ fashion accessories.
There is a related programme of demonstrations and talks. See website for details.

Ingelby Gallery
15 Calton Road, Edinburgh
0131 5564441
November 25 - January 29, 2011

One of this autumn’s most talked about exhibition is Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The show features work by five artists who all challenge the assumption that a camera is necessary to make a photograph.
The idea is built on the first principles of photography explored during the art form’s infancy which experimented with the action of light onto light-sensitive paper.
Two of the photographers whose work features at the V&A exhibition, Susan Derges and Garry Fabian Miller, have been represented by Edinburgh’s Ingleby Gallery for the last ten years and A Little Bit of Magic Realised takes a close-up view of the wider career of these two artists in the context of early historical photographic experiments.
The exhibition takes its title from the words of William Henry Fox Talbot, writing in 1839, and begins with a rare copy of his Sun Pictures in Scotland; a volume of 23 calotypes published in 1845. This was the first book of ‘photographic’ images published anywhere in the world.
The processes behind camera-less images evolved from Fox Talbot’s starting point through the work of other 19th century figures - Hill & Adamson, John Muir Wood and Anna Atkins - into the 20th century with Man Ray's Surrealist rayographs, Christian Schad's Dadaist shadowgraphs and the László Maholy Nagy's Constructivist photograms.
These processes have also formed the basis for Derges and Millers explorations with light over the last 30 years. A Little Bit of Magic Realised presents treasures from both artists’ archives, juxtaposing them with early historical photographic works by Anna Atkins and William Henry Fox Talbot.

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