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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)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Liz Knox, David Cook & Henry Fraser

This is an unedited version of the gallery round-up I wrote for The Herald Arts section last Saturday (17/3/12)

Maclaurin Galleries,
Rozelle Estate, Monument Road, Ayr
01292 443708

March 25 - May 6
Clydeside Building by Liz Knox

This appropriately titled retrospective exhibition presents a unique opportunity to see the artistic development of artist Liz Knox, who has ploughed her own singular furrow since she studied under Scottish painting giants Sir Robin Philipson and David Michie at Edinburgh College of Art, in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
As a tutor, she influenced legions of younger artists in her own uniquely direct and simultaneously nurturing fashion. Her work also possesses a direct, nurturing appeal, with her finely tuned eye for assembling seemingly unrelated objects into a perfectly composed vignette, always to the fore.
This exhibition in Ayr shows the development and progression of her artistic output over the past thirty years through paintings, drawings and sketchbook studies. 
Kitchen Window by Liz Knox
According to Knox, it was ‘cussedness’ which propelled her into her chosen field. “My father wanted me to go down the science route to avoid becoming Bohemian,” she reveals. “He refused to sign my application form for art school.”
When told she could not study both art and science, because of rigid timetabling, Knox walked out of school aged 15.   
She took a job as a lab technician and waited until she was 21, by which time she didn’t need her parents’ permission to go on to further education. In the interim period, she attended night school and studied life drawing and painting, filling sketchbooks and working every spare moment to build a portfolio for art school.
For the next 30 years, she juggled work and family life, even managing to fit in her painting around her other commitments. This included working through a gruelling period of treatment for breast cancer in the early 1990s.
In 2003, she decided to leave lecturing to paint full time. “I told personnel I was going on a Monday and later that day I got a phone call to say I had won the Aspect Prize for painting.”
This exhibition presents a fascinating insight into the business of a super-smart creative mind, who is unafraid to keep pushing back her own personal boundaries. Anyone who thinks they know a Liz Knox painting will be surprised by the range and depth of her output.
Amsterdam Associations by Liz Knox

Kilmorack Gallery 
by Beauly, Inverness-shire 
01463 783 230
Until April 26

In an inspired pairing, Kilmorack Gallery director Tony Davidson has brought together the work of two artists whose work – on the surface very different – presents an emotional counterpoint when viewed together.
David Cook’s dramatic landscapes and Henry Fraser’s honest, open portraits are both gaining a band of thoughtful collectors, who are drawn to a simple rawness in both men’s work.
According to Davidson, Cook’s paintings ‘are the result a life he has pared back to the basics required for his work’
“Gone is the car, computer, phone and other ‘mod-cons’,” he adds. “All he appears to need is paint, canvas and eyes to look out from his isolated studio which almost touches the seaweed covered rocks of his home close to Joan Eardley’s Catterline in the north east of Scotland.
“We can see everything he paints from here; the sea, Johnshaven in the distance and wild flowers. It is this painterly monk-like way of life that produces some of the most energetic profound landscape painting currently produced in Scotland.”
Henry Fraser’s pared-down figures are on first view, child-like and puzzling, but they eat away at you, the more you see them. In the new work on show here, he is working on a much bigger scale than in previous exhibitions.
Davidson says: “There is an unexpected beauty in the individual that stares back from a Henry Fraser painting. Its features – often with small eyes and abstracted face and body, show their souls in a way not often seen in portraiture. Fraser’s loose brush work is far from naive. Marks appear almost accidentally, and it takes great skill to do this.
“You can see Fraser’s fight to make these souls come alive. It is an agony and an ecstasy. Something which spills into his subjects.”

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