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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, 9 May 2011

Art in Tighnabruaich and Paisley (Herald round-up)

Tighnabruaich Gallery
Tighnabruaich, Argyll
01700 811681
Until May 20
Ghost Tree by Louise Higgins

Life for a small commercial art gallery in the year 2011 is not an easy ride. As the recession bites, people are watching their money more carefully than legendary Scots cartoon favourite Oor Wullie, whose pockets were always empty (and holey), I seem to recall.
The tiny Tighnabruaich Gallery, situated on the main street of this picturesque village on the Kyles of Bute, is rising to the challenge admirably. Not put off by the fact that it is slightly off-the-beaten track, its enterprising owners, Andrew and Penny Graham-Weall have been busy adding new Scottish artists to its stable of favourites, while working on plans to bring Tig to the more populated areas of Scotland.
The gallery is heading to Glasgow next weekend for Tighnabruaich Gallery at Number 6, which sees them taking over a town-house in the city’s west end with a selection of original art work as well as glass, jewellery and sculpture. Dates are also in the diary for the new Aberdeen Art Fair in August as well as the Edinburgh Art Fair in the autumn.
This beguiling new exhibition for spring brings together the work of three female artists who all trained at Glasgow School of Art at different times under some of the most influential artist tutors of the late 20th century.
If there is anything which binds together the work of Sandi Anderson, Lesley Burr and Louise Higgins, it is a feeling for the mystical nature of the landscape which they see all around them in their day-to-day lives.
This is the first time that Louise Higgins has exhibited since leaving a full-time position in local authority arts development and she is definitely an artist to watch. Her atmospheric paintings exude a sure sense of the design which naturally occurs in the landscape, while hinting at underlying tensions. There is a subtle narrative in Higgins’ work which stays in the memory bank.
Gallery favourites Lesley Burr and Sandi Anderson also paint their way into the mystic. Burr lives in Argyll and is clearly hugely influenced by her immediate surroundings. There is also a hint of menace in her work which lingers long after you have stopped looking at her work.
Anderson was a BAFTA award winning graphic designer before she turned to full-time painting and she is a fine draughtswoman, presenting the light and colours of the West of Scotland in her own unique way.
Paisley Museum & Art Gallery
High Street, Paisley
0141 887 1010
Until June 5
Ken Howard Lay Figure with Discus Thrower
Paisley Art Institute (PAI) has a long tradition of inviting guest artists to exhibit at its annual open exhibition in this elegant gallery which was gifted to the institute in 1882 by local thread baron, Sir Peter Coats. 
This year, one of Britain’s best loved painters, Ken Howard, takes centre stage – the first time his work has been shown in Scotland for 15 years. The sculptor Gerald Laing, who is based in the Highlands, has also been invited to exhibit.
Howard has loaned two works for the open exhibition, including the giant Lay Figure with Discus Thrower, which according to new PAI president, Suzan Stevenson, is ‘breathtaking’. “It really has to be seen to be believed,” she adds. “Ken Howard was Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy until he retired at the age of 75 a few years ago. In this painting his sense of perspective is incredible. His paintings are about light and space.”
Four large galleries at Paisley are given over to the show and there is work on show by artists from all over Scotland, mainly figurative painting in fairly traditional media.
You will not find the cutting edge of the Scottish art scene in Paisley – it’s far, far from the madding crowds of the Venice Biennale which kicks off next month – but you will find a broad selection of work by some of Scotland’s hardest working and under-rated artists, including some young rising stars.
Emerging artists to look out for this year include, Rachel Rebus, winner of this year’s Jamieson Award for View from Pisani, Ruth Nicol, winner of The Bessie Scott Award for West to East, the Firth of Forth from Cramond and Paul Kennedy, Braewell Galleries Award-winner for Race of Life.
Other worthy prizewinners include; Morag Muir, Helen Wilson and Alma Wolfson.
Ken Howard will be in the gallery this morning (Saturday) presenting prizes and talking to pupils from Renfrewshire schools who took part in this years PAI Schools’ Art Competition. The competition is designed to meet the outcomes of the recently-introduced Curriculum for Excellence and has a £200 first prize sponsored by Macfarlane Group.

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