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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, 18 February 2013

Herald Arts: Galleries @ 16/02/13

Old Montrose Winter by James Morrison, 1984, oil on board,
91x122cms. The Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation

I write a weekly column about the galleries scene in The Herald every Saturday.
This appeared on 16/02/13

James Morrison Retrospective: Land and Landscape
The Fleming Collection
13 Berkeley Street, London 
020 7042 5730
Feb 19-April 6

I first saw the work of Glasgow-born painter James Morrison in my best friend’s family home outside town of Montrose in the north east of Scotland in the 1980s. 
This print of one of Morrison’s landscape paintings struck a chord because it mirrored the scene outside the huge picture window in the sitting room, which was the focal point of the house.
This epic vista stretched out over flat farming land and beyond to the Montrose Basin, part of the estuary of the South Esk which forms a tidal basin near Montrose. 
Depending on the weather and the seasons, the view changed by the minute and Morrison’s depiction of it seemed to my young and untrained eye to have captured its place in a particular moment. This land existed in deep time as well as in the present and Morrison’s imagery suggested this in spades.  
This Tuesday (Feb 19), an exhibition of his life’s work, Land and Landscape, opens at the prestigious Fleming Collection in London. The exhibition has been organised to mark the artist’s 80th birthday. Work on show ranges from 1950s pictures of his home city of Glasgow to more recent landscapes inspired by rural and coastal Scotland and trips overseas. 
It has been curated by his son, Dr John Morrison, head of the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. Dr Morrison has also written a book to accompany this celebration of his father’s work.
Morrison’s paintings have been bought by the Royal Family and by J.K. Rowling, as well by museums and corporate and private collections around the world, but his origins were rooted in what his son describes as ‘the self-educated artisan class’.
Born in 1932 and raised in the family’s corporation home on the north side of the Clyde opposite Clydebank, Dr Morrison writes that his grandparents ‘commitment to education and self-improvement’ meant his father was sent to a good academic school in Hillhead Academy, with his growing interest in art fostering ‘an automatic assumption that he would train as a school teacher and not follow his father into the shipyards.’
Morrison attended Glasgow School of Art (GSA) from 1950-1954. During and just after his student years, he produced bleak, almost monochromatic, paintings of Glasgow’s blackened streets and battle-scarred tenements, some of which, such as Rottenrow: The Midgies, and Crown Terrace, are in The Fleming Collection exhibition.
Being a young aspiring artist in post war Britain – and post war Glasgow in particular – was challenging. Many art school graduates drifted into teaching through economic necessity, but Morrison was determined to make a living as a painter.
In 1957, he was a founding member of the ‘Young Glasgow Group’ alongside fellow GSA graduates including, Alasdair Gray, Anda Paterson, James Spence, Ian McCulloch and Jack Knox.
This artists’ co-operative started to break the grasp of the older, more conservative art institutions and began to encourage the private gallery scene to open up.
Morrison, however, was busy making plans to leave his home city. In 1958, increasingly uncomfortable with city life, the artist and his wife Dorothy moved to Catterline, a cliff top fishing village south of Stonehaven on the north east coast of Scotland. 
The couple had first visited Catterline in 1955 during their honeymoon. By then, it was also the part-time home of the acclaimed GSA trained painter, Joan Eardley.
The couple both secured teaching jobs in the area and Morrison began a decade or more of experimentation and analysis as he tackled the very different set of formal problems posed by landscape painting.
One of the paintings in the exhibition from this period is St Cyrus Abstract, loosely based on the landscape of a salt marsh behind coastal dunes and influenced by a combination of 1960s Op Art and Morrison’s long term interest in physics and geometry. 
In 1965, having taken up a teaching post at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, Morrison and his growing family moved down the coast to Montrose, where he has lived and worked ever since. 
Sadly, his wife died in 2006, but following a six-month break from painting, he continues to work every day.
There is work from every period of Morrison’s long career in this retrospective. By the mid-1970s his work had, according to his son ‘undergone an elemental turn towards realism’ and in recent decades he has produced landscapes of Scotland such as Old Montrose Winter (1984), Montreathmont Forest (1990), and Summer Isles, Pat Macleod’s View (2002). All are included in the retrospective at The Fleming Collection.
Although Morrison’s principal inspiration comes from Scottish land and skies, he has travelled widely, painting in Greece, France, the Canadian High Arctic and Botswana. “All these works are anchored in 50 years of looking at and thinking about the landscape, the weather, the geology and the space,” writes his son. “These paintings, as the Glasgow images before them, offer new insight into perceptions of the everyday.”


Glasgow Sculpture Studio
The Whisky Bond, 2 Dawson Rd, Glasgow, G4 9SS
0141 353 3708
From today until April 6

This new exhibition in Glasgow presents the first chance to see the work of 2012 Turner Prize winner, Elizabeth Price, in Scotland, since she won the prestigious contemporary art gong for her film work, The Woolworths Choir of 1979, last December.
It’s also a chance to check out the splendid new home of the Glasgow Sculpture Studio in a former whisky bond in Speirs Locks in the Port Dundas area of the city.
THE OBJECTS, is a group show of work by Ulla von Brandenburg, Runa Islam, Mark Leckey, Liliana Porter, Elizabeth Price and Jessica Warboys, curated by Kyla McDonald.
The work focuses on a distinctive area of interest among artists who have created ‘portraits’ or vignettes featuring inanimate sculptural objects using film and video.
Looking primarily at the ways in which the status or presence of sculptures can be conveyed or manipulated by the moving image, it considers methods in which film and video can offer the viewer a different way of looking, examining and critiquing objects.
In Ulla von Brandenburg’s The Objects 2009 (from which the exhibition takes its title), objects that might typically be used as props become the subjects. The viewer watches as the camera glides through a succession of things – a fan, a flute, a shirt, a chessboard, a rope – as they dance and disappear in turn. Despite the objects appearing to have a life of their own, the viewer is reminded of their usual motionless state when the strings required to animate them are occasionally seen.

Rip It Up
25 Albert Drive, Glasgow
0845 330 3501
As part of Tramway’s Rip It Up season of new work taking place between January and March, one of the highlights is tomorrow’s family day, The Big Idea, which includes an afternoon of workshops, performances and installations by up and coming Scottish artists developing new work for children under 12 and their parents and carers.
The Glasgow venue will present an array of activities throughout the afternoon including The Story Den, in which children aged between 4 and 12 are invited to join Fly Arts in the magical story den and get lost in the world of traditional storytelling. They’ll also meet some weird and wonderful characters and then have fun creating their own fantastical mask.
There will also be some activity surrounding Nick Evans Solar Eyes exhibition, which was previewed on this page two weeks ago.
Part sculpture ‘theme park’ and part lost civilisation, Evans solo exhibition references Egyptian and Mayan mythology with complex geometrical patterns, bright colours and large plaster sculptures. There will be the chance to take part in drop-in exhibition activity throughout the day.
I recommend you take the time to jump into emerging artist, Lauren Gault’s thought-provoking exhibition in the Tramway 5 space. Hailing from a farming family in Northern Ireland, Gault has merged familiar sights such as ensilage bales (the big shrink wrapped hay bales you see in fields all around the country) with found and constructed objects relating to
the seminal research of scientist Temple Grandin in the treatment of autism and livestock management.
Grandin, who is autistic, invented a ‘squeeze machine’ and advocated swaddling patients, or the application of extreme pressure as a proven method of relaxation and release. 
More inclined to swaddle, as opposed to ripping it up, Gault’s work puts the culture into agriculture and plays on the mind long after you leave the building. 
One of the themes of Rip It Up is visitor feedback, either via Twitter @GlasgowTramway or info@tramway.org.

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