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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, 14 November 2011

Blackadder in Falkirk, Auldjo in Edinburgh and Clubbing it in Glasgow

Gallery Round-up
(Published in The Herald Arts supplement on Saturday November 12)

A celebration of the work of Elizabeth Blackadder
Journeys from Home
The Park Gallery, Callendar House, Falkirk, FK1 1YR
Journeys Together 
Pathfoot Building, The University of Stirling FK9 4LA
From today until February 25, 2012
Venice Window by Elizabeth Blackadder

This summer’s big Edinburgh art hit (still to be seen at Scottish National Gallery until January 2) has been the Dame Elizabeth Blackadder retrospective. This critically acclaimed exhibition features the Falkirk-born artist’s much-loved still lifes as well as lesser known work.
As a bonus for Blackadder fans, the artist’s connection to her home town is now to be celebrated (as well as her 80th birthday) with two complimentary exhibitions at The Park Gallery in Falkirk and the University of Stirling.
At The Park Gallery, Journeys from Home, gives an overview of the journey that Blackadder has undertaken in developing into one of Britain’s pre-eminent artists. 
The pictures and objects tell a story of the places that she has been to, from her beginnings in Falkirk and her first visits to Italy, to her subsequent journeys throughout Europe and to Japan with her late husband John Houston. 
According to its curator, Annabel Macmillan, Blackadder’s paintings ‘are the sum of her experiences and it may not be too literal to identify the progression in colour key in the pictures here with her travels, as the sombre tones of her earlier works give way to a hotter key and are infused with the intensity of Mediterranean warmth and light.’
Journeys Together at University of Stirling’s Pathfoot Building aims to give us a glimpse into an extraordinary partnership, that of Blackadder and her late husband John Houston – together a powerhouse of British art.
Houston, a maverick experimenter, Elizabeth purposeful on her independent course, each is distinct, ploughing their own separate furrow. As this exhibition shows, the exchange in their partnership is evident in their mutual support; both moving in the same direction and demonstrating a shared commitment to art as a true vocation.
There will be several talks relating to these exhibitions, including one by the writer Alan Spence next Saturday (Nov 19) and an in-conversation with Elizabeth Blackadder and Annabel McMillan on November 26. Both these events take place at Callendar House.
Gone to Earth: New Paintings by Alison Auldjo
The Union Gallery, 45 Broughton Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3JU
0131 556 7707
Until December 5
Run and Hide, oil on canvas, by Alison Auldjo

As demonstrated by artist and curator, Kim Canale, running a gallery and making work yourself is not always mutually exclusive, but for Alison Auldjo, it has been a struggle to get back to the drawing board after an intense couple of years setting up and establishing the Union Gallery in Edinburgh’s buzzing Broughton Street.
Having taken two years away from exhibiting in order to establish the gallery, Auldjo has returned to her own unique style of abstract landscape painting following an intense period of self-imposed ‘exile’ in Dumfriesshire in order to focus on the work in isolation.
The results make for interesting viewing and sees Auldjo using her landscapes as a metaphor for the need of artists and the wider public to support each other in the difficult economic and social times in which we live.  
With titles such as Safety in Numbers and Run and Hide, much of this new work has a melancholy yet beautiful appeal, coupled with an edge of uncertainty. The colours are grounded and there is some lovely mark-making within the layers. There is the odd suggestion of life and hope. Human shadows or a tiny hare scamper across the vast open spaces.
Auldjo explains: “Artists are often to be found at the bottom of the heap when things go bad.  Of course, there are people from all walks of life who are suffering at the moment, but being a gallery owner and an artist, it is other artists that I deal with every day.  
“This pains me as I believe we should support and nurture our assets and gifts at all times and, lets face it, Scotland doesn’t produce much any more, apart from a rich tapestry of talent in all areas of the arts.  It should be a source of national shame that so many great artists are struggling to survive at this time, given the pleasure they give to society at large.”
Glasgow Art Club Schools Exhibition & Glasgow Southern Art Club Exhibition
185 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4HU
0141 248 5210
www.glasgowartclub.co.uk & www.glasgowsouthernartclub.com
Until November 26 (closed Sundays & Tuesdays)
Night Garden by Marie Stewart

It always amazes me that all over Scotland, there is so much activity in the field of visual arts at every level. From school art rooms to professional practioners’ studios, individuals are making artworks in every corner of the land which beg to be viewed.
In the Glasgow Art Club, a bastion of the old-school art establishment, the powers that be are working hard to make the club relevant and accessible to the public and this includes a rolling programme of exhibitions and events.
If you haven’t been in this historic building, getting in as easy as ringing the doorbell and asking to see the current exhibition – or exhibitions.
At the moment, there are two shows running simultaneously in the Art Club. In the main gallery on the ground floor level, Glasgow Southern Art Club has its annual selling exhibition on display.
I first heard about this club through the artist Alma Wolfson, a Glasgow-based artist whose work is much sought after in London and beyond. 
Her intuitive, loosely painted landscapes and cityscapes are a visual treat for tired eyes and she told me a couple of years back that without the support of the Southern Art Club, she could not have progressed her career in the way she has done.
Founded in 1953, the club’s premise is a simple one; to help people practise their art and hold exhibitions of members’ work. They hold weekly meetings on the south side of Glasgow between September and May, and its programme is augmented by demonstrations and outings.
As well as keen amateurs, there are several professional artists who are members, and the quality of this year’s exhibition is very strong. 
Upstairs in the club’s Billiard Room (no billiard table to be seen...) there is an interesting exhibition of work by young people from Scottish secondary schools including Larkhall Academy, Clydebank High School, Geilsland School, Balikinrain School and the High School of Glasgow. 
The exhibition is being hosted as part of the Club’s Education Programme, which aims to provide young adults aged 14 to18 with an insight into the cultural diversity of the arts.
It’s great to see such a vibrant, well put-together array of work outside the confines of a school corridor and well worth ringing the doorbell of the Art Club to see...
As a PS, it turns out I am now an 'fishul exhibition opener (also available for birthdays, weddings etc etc) as I actually 'opened' the Glasgow Southern Art Club Exhibition a couple of weeks ago. I also had the onerous task of selecting the winner of their annual prize from among the artwork on the walls of the Art Club. On my own. Gulp. With no hand-holding..
The lighting was unusually dim owing to a problem with the light fittings in the main gallery and perhaps because of this,  I had to look extra-carefully at the work in the dark corners. In one dark corner, I stumbled across Marie Stewart's Night Garden. Someone even gave me a torch to look at it more closely.
I thought it was beautiful and it turns out that it's quite a departure for Marie, who is a long-standing member of the club. Someone bought it immediately and I had a wee pang of regret. Must go back in during the day for one last look!

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