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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, 26 September 2011

Ruth Nicol, Beachcombing & Wasps

Gallery Round-Up (an unedited version of my gallery round-up which appeared in The Herald Arts supplement, Saturday 24 September)
Ruth A Nicol: Leith in Winter
Gallery 2, Arts Complex
St Margaret’s House, 151 London Road, Edinburgh
Oct 1 - 9

Leith In Winter, Britannia From Ocean Terminal, 2011, by Ruth A Nicol, acrylic & pencil on canvas, 150cm squared

Since she graduated as a mature student in drawing and painting from Edinburgh College of Art in 2010, Ruth Nicol has been slowly garnering attention from all quarters of the art world.
Undaunted by the fact that she had a baby just before her degree show, she presented a fine body of work and in the 15 months which have passed since that time, Nicol has built on that promise with a self-assured and workmanlike approach to her career as a painter.
This exhibition at the Arts Complex in Edinburgh presents a group of paintings which Nicol made during the big chill last winter in and around her family home in Leith.
Originally created for (and first shown) in The Line Gallery, Linlithgow, this exhibition offers an opportunity to see it in Edinburgh almost in its entirety. 
A development and continuation from previous bodies of work, Leith in Winter allows us to tune in to Nicol’s vision of landscapes which bear the mark of the transience of human activity.
There is always movement in Nicol’s work, despite the fact that figures are largely absent. Roads and pathways are frequent motifs and alongside definite linear structures, we find abstract lines and vigorous movement, especially in the foreground.
There is vital clarity in these paintings, in acrylic and pencil, which will have you reaching for your winter gloves before the big chill sets in.
“Leith In Winter is concerned with the mechanisms we deploy to achieve metaphysical travel,” says Nicol. “Pivotal decisions are expressed as points on a compass. Many of the paintings work in pairs and are derived from one particular location in Leith, one looking north the other south. 
“Leith lends its self well to this type of study. It is ancient, unique, and highly complex. As a distinct community, it has engaged multiple strata of society throughout its history and its vibrancy can be seen in its evolving architecture and industries.” 
Nicol is definitely an artist to watch. One for the diary is her solo show with the Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh in March 2012.
Shaun McLaren & Fran Hanley
Mansfield Park Gallery
5 Hyndland Street, Glasgow
0141 342 4124
From today until October 15
There is something about being on a beach which lifts us temporarily out of our lives. Walk along any beach and you will see figures in groups or alone, just enjoying the moment. Delve into most people’s homes and you will find shells or pieces of driftwood in some corner or another.
In an inspired pairing, Mansfield Park gallery owner Vicki Cassidy has brought together two mature and original artists whose work is new to the public and who have both been heavily influenced by the sea in altogether different ways. 
Fran Hanley is a Glasgow-based artist who now divides her time between teaching and painting, after a 20-year-period of what she describes as ‘painter’s block’. 
Inspired by the flotsam and jetsam she finds on beaches, she works from life in oils and watercolour with startling clarity and a sure hand. Her ‘beachcombing treasures’, as she describes them, have been collected from various tours around Scotland in her campervan.
Hanley’s work has already attracted attention, with several paintings already sold from the show prior to the opening today.
The work of Shaun McLaren are like small, perfectly-formed 3d paintings in driftwood.
McLaren, who graduated in design and craft from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen in 1987 spent 20 years working in increasingly desk (and computer) bound jobs before he began experimenting with driftwood during a family trip to the Shetland Isles.
“I discovered that I love the freedom that this type of work gives me,” he says. “It combines sculpture and illustration – plus I get to go to the beach and call it work.”
WASPS Artists’ Open Studios Weekend
www.waspstudios.org.uk and www.facebook.com/waspstudios
Saturday October 1, 11am-5pm & Sunday October 2, 12pm-5pm
For anyone interested in the creative process, this opportunity to take a peek in a professional working artist’s studio is not to be missed.
Last year, 203 artists opened their doors in one weekend to just under 5,000 visitors throughout the Wasps studios network in Scotland. Next weekend, it’s happening again and you are cordially invited to have a nosey.
Wasps is a charitable organisation which provides affordable studios to support artists and arts organisations. At the moment, Wasps houses 650 artists and 22 arts organisations in 19 buildings across Scotland.
Working across a myriad of disciplines, from drawing, painting, jewellery-making, sculpture, printmaking, video, stained glass, ceramics, batik, installation, performance and much more, the Wasps Artists' Open Studios Weekend is an invaluable event, mainly because it lets the public see what Wasps does as an organisation and gives a rare opportunity to peek inside the studios and meet artists in their working environment.
Since the event began in 2002, almost 35,000 visitors have had the chance to meet artists in their studios, chat to them about their work and learn the tricks of a number of different creative trades. The event has also generated almost £310,000 in sales and commissions. All this money which goes directly into artists' pockets.
If you take a look at the Wasps network, hopefully there will be one near you and you can indulge your inner nosy art lover.
Me? I’ll be heading down to Hanson Street in Dennistoun, Glasgow, where a treasure hunt is promised for the kids alongside (clothed) life drawing. The ever-excellent Cafe Sejuiced will also be open all weekend.
Artists working here include the Joe Hendry, who might even read tarot cards for you if you drop in past his door, and one of my favourite Scottish painters, Alasdair Wallace. Don’t be put off by the sign on his door... He doesn’t mean it! 

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