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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, 12 September 2011

Beyond the Big C, Angie Lewin & Vault

This is an unedited version of the gallery round-up which appeared The Herald's arts supplement on Saturday, 10 September.

Hannah Hodge: Beyond the ‘Big C’
The Mitchell Library Gallery
Charing Cross, Glasgow
September 12-17

28 Days by Hannah Hodge
Just over 10 years ago, Hannah Hodge was working in Multan, Pakistan as a doctor at the Women’s Christian Hospital when she started to feel severely unwell. Repeated blood tests failed to establish the cause so she returned to her native Scotland in August 2001 for further tests.
On September 7, she was given the devastating diagnosis that at the age of just 33, she had a rare form of hereditary bowel cancer.
So began a descent into a hellish physical and mental pit of anguish as her treatment began a week later with emergency surgery. This was followed up by another emergency operation which saved her life. She emerged after a month, a changed woman.
In the aftermath of her diagnosis, Ms Hodge struggled to find some sort of equilibrium, but in August 2002, she went to stay at a Christian retreat in Perthshire called The Bield. As she worked in the art room there, she began to find a focus for her own hugely conflicting emotional response to having cancer.
Ms Hodge had always had an interest in photography, but working in various materials, from paper and paint to wood and acetate at The Bield, she started to produce work which summed up her feelings of loss, pain and anger.
This exhibition in The Mitchell Library, which she has organised herself and is promoting the work of Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres, features several of her artworks and is a hugely personal celebration of having survived 10 years of living with cancer.
“It’s also to recognise that many people are diagnosed too late for long-term survival,” she says.
“It’s a revelation and a reminder of the way art has been an essential, integral and surprising component of the healing process for me. I hope that through my experience, others may find that art may help them too.”
After this exhibition ends its short run at The Mitchell, it moves to the Bield at Blackruthven, Aberfeldy until October 1.

PS I went in to see this exhibition as I had a meeting at The Mitchell Library's cafe today. 
It is quite an extraordinary achievement for a non-practising artist.
As someone who covers the visual arts, I'm used to seeing exhibitions by artists who have been through the art education mill, making artists' statements about their work and trying to explain what is often inexplicable. 
What this exhibition lacks in polish, it makes up for in integrity and I mean that in the most positive way. Hannah has done this all on her own, without an art background, a curator, funding - the usual stuff which accompanies art exhibitions in public places these days.
Through a combination of words, pictures, film, installations - an outpouring in fact - charting her battle with cancer and the demons which accompanied this battle, Hannah has put together an utterly truthful exhibition. 
It's only on for a week but I urge you, if you can, to see Beyond The Big C. 

Dr Hannah Hodge at her exhibition, Beyond The 'Big C' at The Mitchell Library, Glasgow

Angie Lewin: Original Prints and Watercolour Drawings 
Castle Gallery 
43 Castle Street Inverness
01463 729512
Until October 1

Harris (24.8x35.5cm, linocut) by Angie Lewin

After working in London as an illustrator, Angie Lewin studied horticulture and following a move to Norfolk, she returned to working in printmaking, which she had studied at Central St Martins Colleges of Art. She now divides her time between her studios in the Cairngorms and in Norfolk, making work inspired by both these locations.
This solo show at The Castle Gallery in Inverness reveals with startling clarity her love of depicting the natural world which she sees all around. Images are based on plant forms, especially seedheads, seen against sea and sky. Influences also include the contrasting landscape and native plants of the Highlands.
Lewin, whose work is often used to illustrate books covers, works with a range of printmaking techniques including lithography, silkscreen, wood-engraving and linocut, all individually hand-made.
She has exhibited her work successfully since 2002 and many of her print editions sell out very quickly. Rare prints that are very near the end of their editions include By Green Bank, Harris, Long Bank, Ramsons, Shepherd's Purse, Skye, Skye to Harris, Spey Seedheads, Winter Birches, Winter Spey III and Yellow Rattle.
A recent anthology of garden writing published by Merrell, Garden Wisdom, is illustrated throughout by her prints. Its author Leslie Geddes-Brown says of her work:
“The whole book was inspired by the art of Angie Lewin, who brings her own vision of the natural world to her work.
“She sees the beauty in all seasons and all manifestations of plants: the ordered pattern of the blooms, the thrusting energy of the emerging buds, the prolific seedheads and the varieties of shapes, colours and habits to be found in meadow and border.”
Vault Art, Glasgow (Now ended)
The Briggait
141 Bridgegate, Glasgow

Disappear Here by Martin Boyce, screenprint, 1999 (courtesy Glasgow Print Studio, www.gpsart.co.uk)
This inaugural art weekender has now ended. I went in for a gander yesterday and it was a really lively affair. Just the thing for an art lover on a wet Sunday (whose sister-in-law has agreed to be on child-minding duties...)

I was most taken with the sales chat from a young artist representing The Mutual (www.themutual.org.uk) She was gutsy, gallus and not afraid to sell, sell, sell. Which, let's face it, is what it's all about, especially if you want to maintain a career in the cut-throat world of contemporary art.

She also wore one of their specially produced limited edition print silk scarves very well. 

Jean Cameron, at the neighbouring Glasgow International (GI) stand, told me she'd been most impressed that she'd worn it in different ways over four days! She'll go far...

I really liked the work of Chris Wallace (http://www.chriswallacework.co.uk/wire.html) who was represented at the Briggait stand and also at Lapland's stand (http://www.laplandscape.co.uk/). Funny, detailed, beautifully crafted and thoughtful.

Really liked Penny Sharp's film at Glasgow Independent Studios stand too (http://gis.uk.com/artists.php/115/penny+sharp). So true...

The Glasgow Print Studio had some crackers, including screenprints by Richard Wright and Turner Prize nominated Martin Boyce (see above). Vault curator Patricia Fleming put her money where her mouth is and came up to buy one when I was at the stand - using the Own Art scheme, which allows you to pay off an artwork in instalment. A great investment. 
Looking forward to next year's Vault. I thought the space in The Briggait worked very well.

Billed an ‘an opportunity to see and buy work from one of the most exciting visual arts communities in the UK’, the water-coolers around the west of Scotland art world have  been privy to a lot of opinions on this new art fair for Glasgow.
The art weekender is currently taking place in the magnificently refurbished Briggait building in Glasgow city centre, now managed and run by artists’ studios body, WASPS.
The Glasgow Art Fair (GAF), which took place every spring in George Square, was an inclusive all-comers event attracting some 20,000 visitors to view and buy. Some would – and did – argue that popular as it was, it was a slightly random affair which didn’t reflect the fact that Glasgow is home to Turner Prize winners and nominees, such as Richard Wright, Susan Philipsz and Karla Black.
The axing of the GAF had as much to do with budgetary concerns as it did showcasing contemporary art. Glasgow Life, the cultural body which is an offshoot of Glasgow City Council, sponsored GAF to the tune of £80,000, while this new event has been given £20,000 by the council, albeit augmented by a £20,000 tranche of funding from Creative Scotland’s Own Art scheme.
The other main difference is that Vault has been curated (by Patricia Fleming) whereas GAF sold space to some 50 or so private galleries. It has been produced by UZ Events, part of Unique Events, which also organised the GAF.
Visual arts communities taking part include The Briggait, David Dale Gallery & Studios, Glasgow Print Studio, Glasgow Independent Studio, IRONBBRATZ, Lapland, Market Gallery, The Mutual, Street Level Photoworks, SWG3, and Volume.
Jenny Brownrigg, exhibitions director at The Glasgow School of Art has also curated Vault’s New Views section, presenting a selection of this year’s graduates.
Artists projects include the event design created by Glasgow based visual artist Iain Kettles and new commissions created by Market Gallery, The Mutual, IRONBBRATZ and Lapland.
Tours and talks at the event are free on entry. One of the highlights is a tour tomorrow (Sunday) at noon, with curator, Patricia Fleming. The public will be able to buy works online from the innovative Culture Label over the weekend of Vault and for the three months leading up to Christmas.

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