Sunday, 25 January 2009

Burns Light Burns Night

We're just back from the torch lit celebrations in Dumfries celebrating the 250th anniversary of Burns' birth. The spectacular willow sculpture of Tam O'Shanter on his horse Meg was made by artists Trevor Leat and Alex Rigg. It floated on the Nith before being lit as night fell.

Crowds gathered on the white sands with a fabulous array of lanterns. Rhonehouse village created Kevin the carthorse with artist Lizzie Farey. His mane rustled in the wind and he had such a characterful face he almost looked as if he was going to give a speech! The lanterns included a graceful boat with twinkling fairy lights, a mouse with a wiggly tail, a huge candle, a cat and a dragon.

As the light fell the willow sculpture was silhouetted against the sky, Tam's Arms reaching skyward as his horse reared up:
Chinese lanterns floated up into the sky above the river Nith and fireworks and fire then engulfed Tam and his horse. I think Rabbie Burns would have approved of the celebratory spirit and all the creativity thriving in Dumfries and Galloway.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Salmon Nets in the Solway

SUE LLEWLLYN 'Salmon Nets in the Solway' Oil on board £300

Artist Sue Llewellyn is being featured on the BBC Cumbria web site. She will be exhibiting with us in April 2009 and we have one of her evocative oil paintings of the Solway coast in the gallery at the moment. Sue lives in Cumbria but has a great love of our region, especially the coast line, and likes nothing better than a stormy day in Auchencairn!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Witch Hazel, Snowdrops and the Beauty of Winter

In spite of the biting cold outside we have a cluster of exotic looking Witch Hazel in the gallery, courtesy of our friend Jo the super gardener. It's an extraordinary plant; I love the structure of the twigs and the contrasting fluffiness of the yellow flowers.

When the elusive winter sun appears long shadows are cast down the gallery garden and the stepping stones illuminate.

On a stroll through the garden I was delighted to see that the snowdrops are here at last.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Parcels of Pots

Five boxes of new pots arrived from Jonathan Chiswell Jones, so I spent today unpacking it all. It was like Christmas all over again - you never know quite what you're unwrapping!

Jonathan sent us a new design of his porcelain domestic ware, a delicate orange chrysanthemum. This adds to his Dragonfly and Fish and Weed designs that we already sell in the gallery. I can vouch for how functional Jonathan's porcelain is to use, it can all go in the oven and the dishwasher. It's nice to have things in everyday use that are handmade and decorative but also quite hardy.

We also took delivery of some more pieces of Jonathan's amazing Lustre ware, including some very celtic looking hare designs.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Teeth are the only bones that show


This is the final weekend of the Francis Bacon exhibition at Tate Britain. I saw it in the middle of December, to say the experience still haunts me is probably too strong an expression. However I was deeply affected by it and left feeling close to tears. Not with sadness, but overwhelmed by the power of Bacon's work. Since that visit I have returned to think about his work many times. His presentation of the human form in all its raw fleshiness was unlike any painting I have experienced before.

I went to see the exhibition feeling quite ambivalent: I didn't really know much about his work and it had never attracted me before. I think the the fact that the curators literally took the viewer on a chronological journey made the whole viewing experience all the more powerful. Each room represented a different time in his life and as you moved through the rooms you saw him returning again and again to his distinctive themes. A reoccurring subject being an open mouth, teeth painted with paint layers so thick that they became three dimensional. Save for the mouth, the rest of the body was completely distorted and abstract.

These powerful images made me wonder, if in all his fascination with the blood and flesh of our human bodies, Bacon was conveying something my friend Baby Dee wrote a song about: Teeth Are The Only Bones That Show.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year

I spent New Year's Eve working in the gallery and listening to Buffalo Springfield courtesy of our friendly neighbourhood book seller Martin. I have such happy memories of the Neil Young concert that I saw this year so it was great to be introduced to where it all began.

I then succumbed to one of the many winter bugs that have been flying around and had to go home early leaving Jill to finish our last working day of the year. Life is never dull when you are working in a gallery and I have had some really interesting conversations about art with our customers and artists over the year and I look forward to many more.

So, 2009 is here and I feel really optimistic and excited about the year ahead. We have a great variety of exhibitions planned and an overhaul and developement of our web site.

My New Year's wish is that the gallery continues to thrive and we continue to bring exciting art in all its forms to Castle Douglas.

On a personal note I'd like to make a trip to New York to visit galleries and museums and maybe some shops too! So, if any New York galleries need a Scottish gallerista to work for a couple of weeks you know who to ask! In dreamy moments I imagine a New York branch of McGill Duncan Gallery: if you look at our logo it is perfect for replacing 'Castle Douglas' with different places perhaps adding Glasgow... and New York.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year, may you live your dreams and build a ladder to the stars.

Z x