Saturday, 29 November 2008

The Royal Glasgow Institute

EWAN MCCLURE Self Portrait

There is only one day left of the RGI show at The Mitchell in Glasgow, it closes tomorrow.

I am pleased to say that Ewan McClure won the James Torrance Memorial Award for his Self Portrait. All the paintings in this annual exhibition are for sale and not surprisingly Ewan's painting has been sold. Congratulations Ewan!

I enjoyed the show, some paintings more than others, as is to be expected. David Sinclair's 'The Open Window' is an outstanding painting. I also greatly admire Helen Wilson's work and loved her 'Tiny Dancer'.

Ewan has been working on two new paintings for our December exhibition Impressions of Galloway Past and Present, which opens a week today on the 6th of December. They are titled 'Fading Light, Kirkcudbright' and 'Rushes by the Dee', I picked them up from Ewan at Waverley station last week. When I got back to the gallery and unwrapped them, both Jill and I instantly loved them. I think seeing new work straight from the people who created it, often before anyone else has seen it, is such a privilege and one of the nicest parts of our job!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Catch it while you can!

MIKE TURPIE Eucalyptus Forest Oil on Canvas 90 x 90cm £1500

If you haven't seen this show you only have one week left. Our Bella Green, Gail Kelly, Mike Turpie and Philomena Pretsell exhibition closes this Saturday, the 29th of November.

Don't miss it!

I have really enjoyed being in the gallery with this lively vibrant work. They are paintings to warm the soul on a cold winter's day.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Photo Shoot

Jill, John and me outside the gallery after John's photo shoot.

Today author John Burns came to the gallery to have his publicity shots taken for the launch of his book.

We now have some signed copies available for sale in the gallery.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Coming soon

They're in production as I type, so coming soon to the gallery:

Our 2008 Christmas card, Polar Bear Party.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Series of Dreams - Book Launch

I am delighted to announce the publication of Series of Dreams by my good friend John Burns. Published by 'Glen Murray Publishing', this book is available from today and you can buy your copy online here. Postage is free in the UK.

John is a writer and teacher who lives in Galloway. In Series of Dreams: the vision songs of Bob Dylan he looks at all of Dylan's major albums from the 'sixties to the present and shows how Dylan transmutes philosophical and musical ideas into a visionary art that can change the way we feel and think about how we live.

We will be hosting the official launch at the Gallery on Sunday 7th December at 3pm. John will give a short talk and be available to sign copies of the book. Please join us for a drink and an afternoon of literary and musical conversation...

SEIZURE ART - Extended Opening

Here are some photos (I took them with my iphone) from Seizure by Roger Hiorns. My friend Kerry told me about this piece.

After taking the tube to Elephant and Castle we donned wellies and went inside a tiny council flat. All the surfaces have been covered in copper sulphate crystals.

The flat is very small and destined for destruction on a condemned housing estate. The Crystals physically bring the walls in closer around you, magnifying the reality of the small living space. The glittering blue crystals give a grotto like experience in an unlikely space.

Seizure was due to close on 2nd November but I've just heard that opening has been extended until 30th November.

Monday, 17 November 2008

The countdown begins

I've spent the last few days getting a flurry of emails from the artists who are taking part in our Christmas Exhibition Impressions of Galloway Past and Present. Now I have the titles and prices I am making labels and putting together the catalogue. I must say I am very excited about the work we are going to show.

Following the Christmas tradition at McGill Duncan Gallery we will have Galloway and Scottish paintings from the 19th century onwards.

What is exciting and different about this year's exhibition is that we have asked contemporary artists to contribute work depicting their response to Galloway. Local artists are taking part as well as artists from much further afield.

I have been so touched by the enthusiasm that the invited artists have shown for our exhibition brief. Most of the work in this exhibition has been created specially for the gallery. I have no doubt it will hold its own when displayed next to the work of artists who were so inspired by Galloway in the past.

Here's a photo of Susan Dobson drawing at Cairn Holy. She has created two dramatic Etchings with Aquatint of these iconic Galloway standing stones for us. What a beautiful setting, I love the pink hat Susan!


Friday, 14 November 2008

A Gaggle of Geese

LISA HOOPER A Gaggle of Geese woodcut £240 unframed

I read this news today, when I was putting together Lisa Hooper's updated CV for our upcoming Christmas exhibition:
at the National Exhibition of Wildlife Art 2008 Lisa's woodcut A Gaggle of Geese was awarded “the most outstanding piece of avian art” by Birds Illustrated magazine.

Congratulations Lisa!

This woodcut was very popular in our exhibition with Lisa earlier in the year and we still have one edition of it for sale in the gallery.

Lisa has made two fantastic new prints for our Christmas Exhibition which opens on December the 6th.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Piero Della Francesca


I have artists Nigel Swift and Anita Klein to thank for introducing me to the work of Piero Della Francesca when I was in Italy.

I really can't get these paintings out of my head and even if I could I wouldn't want to. My friend Christine Smith told me about his work in the National Gallery and I went to see them when I was in London.

I had really sore feet from tramping round galleries all day so all I did was stand in front of his work and stare and stare. I didn't feel the need to look at any one else's paintings. The Baptism of Christ is a truly extraordinary painting.

Just now I'm reading The Piero Della Francesca Trail by John Pope Hennessy with an essay, The Best Picture by Aldous Huxley.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Obama ART

Obama by Barry Hill

Here's a fantastic piece of graphic art by Barry Hill, constructed with the words from "I have a dream" by Martin Luther King.

In the summer I went to stay with Barry and my cousin Joanna and we talked excitedly about possible outcome of the US elections. Barry had just created this piece and I'm so glad that our hopes for the election came true.

I love the way he's highlighted the words Yes We Can.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

What is a print?

GAIL KELLY Fairy Wood - Kirkmadrine, Stranraer

Gail Kelly has produced some wonderful lithographs for our latest exhibition, many of them are of Galloway and some are Irish Landscapes. She even made one of our gallery garden.

I have done some basic print making and I'm aware how most prints are produced but I was never sure about the techniques that go into producing a lithograph.

Here's a great visual explanation of lithography and other printing techniques by MOMA: What is a print?

Review - The Galloway News

Gail Kelly & Bella Green

A review of our current exhibition with artists Bella Green, Gail Kelly, Philomena Pretsell and Mike Turpie was published today in The Galloway News.

Here's the Review:

Multi Media Art Exhibition

A dynamic quartet of artists are showing their work this month at McGill Duncan Gallery in Castle Douglas. The artists are all working in diverse mediums from ceramics to lithographic printmaking and oils but the show as a whole is a vibrant celebration of colour and life.

From her home in Mid Lothian Ceramicist Philomena Pretsell recently made a research trip to New York City. There she was able to immerse herself in street art and the work of nameless graffiti artists. This made her reflect on the way artists can bring joy and life to even the greyest of spaces. Philomena says, “These are Pots of joy in a grey world. Contemplative in a way that stimulates the mind to ask questions they are often ironic; they can invite a smile at those assumptions made in our ordinary lives.” Although her medium is clay the pots almost look like they could jump, dance or sing if they wanted to: she has captured the frenetic creative energy of New York and thrown it back at us with more than a touch of irony spun into the clay.

For Northern Ireland artist Gail Kelly, her lithographs for this exhibition are largely based on an inspirational trip round Galloway. Earlier this year Gail visited the region during the Spring Fling open studio event and while touring round the studios she was captivated by the landscape. This new work was born out of her yearlong association with the McGill Duncan Gallery in Castle Douglas as she often visits to bring her work over from Northern Ireland. Jill says, “In the past year we have had many artists come to stay with us and it is wonderful to see the inspiration they get from our beautiful Galloway landscapes.”

Bella Green lives and paints locally in Eskdalemuir and also in Tuscany where she teaches. She produces works in oils using rich vivid colours to respond to light, heat or a time of day. Her energetic and spontaneous landscapes show impressions of places in Scotland and Italy. Her Still life paintings convey the pattern and design of domestic life with a decorative almost rhythmic approach as in Birthday or Red Blind.
When Bella described her technique she said, “Sometimes I work quickly and freely and at other times a more considered and contemplative method feels right.” Bella’s energy and enjoyment of her surroundings are obvious in her work, no more so than in the two paintings of the Red and Blue shoes she wears to dance the Tango!

Bold brushwork and colours that almost take your breath away are hallmarks of Mike’s large oil paintings. He describes his work as “new expressionism”. He captures atmospheric effects and the beauty and drama of the skies whether painting in Scotland or South America. His style has proved very popular with buyers in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In contrast to his painting, Mike’s etchings of Edinburgh and the Borders evoke the exactness of landmark buildings and hills using a variety of tones and textures.

From Graffiti in New York to tango dancing or trekking in the wilds of South America or Scotland, the pictures and ceramics for sale at McGill Duncan Gallery offer a varied and exciting view of the world.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Lucian in London

Lucian Freud Girl in Dark Jacket

I'm just back from London and full of plans for our exhibition programme in 2009. I had a really enjoyable time meeting artists and seeing lots of different parts of London. I can't say too much now but exciting times lie ahead for the gallery. Plans include a major Print makers exhibition in the Spring and the fabulous work of a sculptor who casts in bronze, which will be available in the gallery in August 2009.

I was lucky enough to take in quite a few exhibitions and if you are in London with time to visit some galleries I can highly recommend the early Lucian Freud works at Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert in St James's. The exhibition is full of gems. I found it incredibly inspiring, his work is full of rare integrity and the keenest observation. The little Oil of lemons is the most delicious painting of lemons I have ever seen!

What Are You Like? at Dulwich Picture Gallery is a small collection of drawings by some famous and not so famous people in the public eye. Looking at the untitled pictures and guessing the artists is the name of the game. It's incredibly good fun. I'm always fascinated by people's favourite things and this is very revealing of the various personalities involved. Everything from favourite clothes, animals, weather and comforts are depicted - the perfect exhibition for a nosey person!

The Flemming Collection
has a brilliant collection of Joan Eardleys on show now. If you missed the huge retrospective of her work at the RSA in Edinburgh at the end of 2007 this is a great chance to see some of her best work. She's probably one of my favourite artists of all time.

ROTHKO Red on Maroon

Before catching the train my last stop was Tate Modern to see the later work of Rothko. I viewed the paintings with an audio tour headset and enjoyed hearing the music that inspired him and some of the background and history to his commissions and the methods and media in which he worked. The work is at its best hung in a vast space, so that it dominates the environment. I felt the power of it and went away with a little more insight into the man.

I will have to make a return visit to see Byzantium at the Royal Academy it looks like an extraordinary collection.