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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, 6 May 2013

June Carey, Garry Fabian Miller & Liz Knox

June Carey Animo Affictus pastel, 102cmx137cm

June Carey: A Traveller’s Dreams
The Meffan Museum and Art Gallery
20 West High Street, Forfar
01307 476 482
Until May 25

It’s always fascinating to see early work by artists whose work you think you know. Recently, I was lucky enough to take a walk through June Carey’s life’s work when she was collating it in the compact and perjinct garage meets studio from which she works from in the back garden of her home in Stirling.
Carey has been working like a demon in this space in the last few months ahead of a major exhibition of her work at The Meffan Museum and Art Gallery in Forfar.
More than 70 works, including drawings, etchings, paintings and three dimensional works by Carey, dating from the 1960s onwards, go on show from today in the Angus town.
Seeing Carey’s early work; self-portraits and figurative work dating back to the days when she attended Glasgow School of Art (GSA) in the early 1960s alongside the likes of life-long friend, John Byrne, gives an indication of Carey’s talent as a draughtswoman.
Her early figures reveal a sure hand and eye. Looking at them after more than 50 years, and with the benefit of hindsight, she claims now that she was lacking direction for many years.
“It has been quite an experience looking out my old work,” she says. “Some of it is very dark. I see it now and I realise I was always putting down my fears on paper.”
Darkness does loom. But there is always light beside shade. There are monochrome works of figures hiding behind curtains, doll’s heads looming out of shadows, female figures with water creeping up past their heads – fishes swimming around their ears. 
Imagery with which we can associate ourselves.
Carey left GSA without graduating but she went on the study at Edinburgh College of Art from 1978-1982.
It was during this period (a time when she was also busy bringing up a young family) that she discovered etching. It was this discovery which, she says, finally set her free as an artist.
"Because I couldn't see what I was doing, I wasn't so inhibited," she explains. "I was able to sort out things I couldn't speak about. 
“I always did a lot of figurative work; drawing and painting. But I wasn't satisfied. I started etching and the flood gates opened. Most people wear a mask. I know I do and making etchings somehow showed me that I had to get behind the mask.”
The act of travelling, be it through her own imagination or in reality, to countries as diverse as Malta, Mexico, Indonesia, Spain, Cyprus, Italy, Singapore, India, Bali, Quebec and Poland, sparks off in Carey a need to communicate through her art.
Recently, she has started a new series of work inspired by her own Scottish culture.
The many diverse cultures she has encountered not only feed her imagination, but have proved pivotal to the development of her work. 
Constantly rooting around in her psyche to get to the truth of what has shaped her as a human being has taken this restless creative soul on a phantasmagorical voyage of discovery.
Carey’s work is direct yet complex. Full of motifs and hidden depths. 
Figures lie at the heart of her art, but they are never alone. Recurring motifs include; masks, heads (sometimes double-heads), fishes , birds, paper hats, icons , tattoos, masks, keys, moons, hearts, wings and even the belching towers of Grangemouth, which sit just a stone's throw from her Stirling home.
Recently Scottish heraldry has begun to creep into her etchings and paintings. With the magnificently refurbished Stirling Castle on her doorstep and a Referendum on Independence looming, perhaps this is no surprise. Stained glass windows in the nearby Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum have also caught her attention.
No subject-matter is safe from her watchful eye. This is a woman who is as energised by Polish pylons as she is by lines of Latin verse. 
No-one else could mimic the freshness she brings to her creations, which manifest themselves in a dizzying mix of mediums, from pastel to, paint, etching, digital print or 3d. Sometimes all the mediums fuse brilliantly in one glorious creation.
As with all Carey’s work, her initial ideas work their way into a very different outcome from the one she envisaged.
Looking through June's work over several decades, it's clear there has been a voyage around herself taking place.
It’s a constant process. She will sit and watch TV and create a pair of Wishing Shoes just to keep her hands busy. These sparkly beaded shoes have found their way to Forfar and your shoes should do the same thing. It will be worth the journey...
Garry Fabian Miller: The Middle Place
Ingleby Gallery
15 Calton Road, Edinburgh
0131 556 4441
Until July 13

In 1984, Garry Fabian Miller, stopped trying to capture life on the edge through the medium of a camera. From that point on, he has been one of the leading artists on the world stage working in camera-less photography.
In many ways, he had been moving towards this for years. At the age of just 16, in 1973, the Bristol-born artist was commissioned by housing charity, Shelter, to photograph the homeless in Bristol and throughout Gloucestershire.
The following summer, he set off with his camera on a journey by foot across the Shetland Islands just as the old ways were about to change forever with the coming of the oil industry. 
As a ‘veteran’ of 19, he started taking photographs from a fixed point on the roof of his house in Cleveden, near Bristol. In this body of work, which became Sections of England: The Sea Horizon, his camera remained at a fixed point looking out over the Severn Estuary, with lens, film and exposure remaining constant.
It was his first major body of work and was shown at London’s Serpentine Gallery as well as the Arnolfini in Bristol.
In the intervening years, Miller’s work has been about trying to capture life at the edge of existence or points in a real or imagined landscape on the verge of disappearing altogether.
He explains: “What my work is about is to try and create a thinking space and also a kind of space one can slide into and disappear into and perhaps not come back from.
“I want the thing which appears to come with a grace and a simplicity as if it’s always been there and for me that should be an aspiration as if it’s just emerged into the world.”
Miller’s camera-less images which veer into luminous, glowing abstraction, are all about chasing the light.
In an era in which almost everyone has a camera in the palm of their hand in the form of a mobile phone, Miller strips back the art of photography to capture the excitement and possibilities presented when it was an art-form in its infancy. His experiments with nature and light positively pulsate with vigour and pull the viewer in by stealth.
In this new exhibition at Edinburgh’s Ingleby Gallery, where he last showed two years ago, a complete sequence of forty works from Sections of England: The Sea Horizon, will be shown for the first time.
There is a timeless, spiritual quality to these early images which continues to resonate in Miller’s more contemporary work, the largest collection of which is held by the V&A Museum in London. There is a timeless, spiritual quality to these early images which continues to resonate in Miller’s more contemporary work, the largest collection of which is held by the V&A Museum in London.

Liz Knox
The Edinburgh Gallery
20A Dundas Street, Edinburgh
0131 557 5002
Until May 25
As anyone who saw her major retrospective exhibition at the Maclaurin Galleries in Ayr last year can confirm, Liz Knox is a singular artist whose rigorous approach to her art mixes intelligence with an in-built feeling for form and composition.
Knox is known for her subtle still lifes, but she is also a master of landscape and her figurative work is sublime.
Early figures shown at her retrospective – some dating back to her student days at Edinburgh College of Art in the late 60s and early 70s where she studied under painting giants such as Sir Robin Philipson and David Michie – reveal a bravura approach to getting under the surface of her chosen subject.
Fans of Knox’s work are in for a treat when she presents her first solo show with the Edinburgh Gallery in the capital’s art quarter of Dundas Street from today.
This exhibition has 18 paintings and according to owner, Catherine Grilli, the four still lifes on show here are true Knox ‘statement’ pieces.
Three Times Table, Windows and Sunflowers Canal Venice and Canal really are statement pieces. Everything is placed so exactly and beautifully, drawing you into the painting while the subtle tones in the back drop are full of surprises
“I admire the wonderful colours, and the composition in Liz Knox's work and I see the way that once people look at the work, they keep going back to discover more gems within. 
“In this exhibition, there is so much beautifully executed detail. Each painting is totally individual and captivating.”

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