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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)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Gillian Jones @ The Castle Gallery, Inverness

This was first published in The Herald arts supplement on Saturday April 23.
Please note that Gillian doesn't make wood carvings, as erroneously stated in the published version. She actually makes rather fine wood engravings, as illustrated below. My fault entirely. I was writing at the witching hour on deadline, having lost my initial version in the ether...

The Last Day of September, Invergordon (watercolour)

Showers over Ardersier (watercolour)
Scottie's Jemimaville (wood engraving)


Exhibition Profile: GILLIAN SMITH
New Watercolours & Original Prints
Castle Gallery
43 Castle Street, Inverness
01463 729512
April 30 - May 21
There is a very real sense of ‘coming home’ in the new work produced for Gillian Jones for this solo show at The Castle Gallery in Inverness.
The exhibition, which marks its tenth anniversary, comes from one of its own in that Jones has spent the best part of a decade working part-time in the gallery while raising her young family.
During that time, Jones, who grew up on Skye and graduated from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen in 1988, barely picked up a paintbrush or a tool to make one of her acclaimed wood engravings.
But all the while, a percolation process was ongoing. As she explains: “During that time, I thought much about my work and visited inspirational exhibitions when I could, such as the Joan Eardley at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh in 2007.
“Through my part-time work as gallery assistant at Castle Gallery, I felt connected to the art world and enriched by the creativity I saw there.”
When her second child started school in 2009, Jones decided it was time to re-engage with the business of making her own art again, so she reluctantly gave up her work at the gallery and headed – literally – for the hills.
“Some people commented that it would be interesting to see what emerged from this period of creative dormancy,” she says, “but I always knew it would not be too far removed from what had gone before and this has proved true.
“My work has always portrayed a sense of place, whether it be the hills of the west or the fishertown of Cromarty, and this has remained with me since art school days.”
The resulting body of new work from Jones is as fresh as the decade is long. A mix of beautifully controlled yet still spontaneous watercolours, painted on the spot in the West Highlands, and wood engravings which have a storybook-style linear precision, there is a very real feeling of vitality jumping out at the viewer.
Castle Gallery director Denise Collins knows Jones’ work well and she talks about her inherent flair for combining the improbable (‘lime green and orange, for example’) and getting away with it.
“Her lightness of touch and assured fluidity of brush work suggest an effortlessness, but I know these paintings have been the result of much hard work and dedication. Successful watercolours on a large scale are not easy to achieve, but Gillian manages this with aplomb; nothing is overworked and the tonal balance is perfect.”
One of Jones’ many admirers is the artist and musician, Donnie Munro, now director of development and the arts at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye.
“Gillian’s works are poetic, dynamic and deeply engaging,” he says. “They bring to the viewer a real sense of the pleasure with which the artist has engaged with the landscapes of her native Highlands and Islands.
“They are possessed of an uncluttered spontaneity in which all her inherent artistry and draughstmanship is utilised to the full – each form in the landscape, the distant copse of trees, the folds and forms of agricultural land, the marks of plough and planter, the walling and the tumbling clutter of outbuildings nestling in the tuck of the bay where ‘white-horsed’ waves rush in swirling ultramarines and cerulean blues through the narrow ochre dotted shorelines of a sandy kyle and all the man made marks. Lyrical motifs set in the permanence of a great brooding Highland skyline.
“The Scottish Gàidhealtachd is emerging as an area which has a strong, tangible and distinct visual culture of which Gillian Jones is both inheritor and exciting exponent.”
Looking at this new work which Jones has produced for this, her first solo exhibition in ten years, it is clear that she has no interest in presenting picture postcard views of the places in which she finds herself.
For all that, even in paintings such as Showers Over Ardersier, (an area not known for its loveliness) she has brought out The Moment. And made it her own...
Prices range from £450 - £1275 

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