Thursday, 25 June 2009

In Harmony at McGill Duncan Gallery

Here's a review of our current exhibition, published today in The Galloway News.

FIONA WATSON The Harmony of Things framed £300 unframed £240

In Harmony at McGill Duncan Gallery
Review: The Galloway News 25.06.09

Nature is the overwhelming influence on the work in the new exhibition at McGill Duncan Gallery in Castle Douglas. Birds, wild plants and flowers and the beauty and fragility of nature consume the interest of all four women artists in the show.

The exhibition is composed of ceramics by Sue Dunne, jewellery by Susan Kerr, etchings by Fiona Watson and paintings by Rosie Villiers - Stuart. Many regular visitors to the gallery have been impressed by the change in atmosphere that this new work has brought to the exhibition space.

‘Tread Softly’, an enchanting etching by Fiona Watson, may have been inspired by the poem by W. B. Yeats but it is also a message that couldn’t be more relevant when surrounded by so many images of nature in the exhibition. Another of her etchings ‘The Harmony of Things’ displays Zen-like balance in its composition and epitomises the atmosphere generated in the gallery by all the works in this exhibition.

Ceramicist Sue Dunne follows the changing seasons in her work. Her ‘Flowering Year’ consists of twelve individually press-moulded earthenware tiles presented in a circle, with each one representing a British wild flower. Sue Dunne’s life in the countryside and her responses to it are central to her work. She says ‘A typical day for me starts by stepping out with Mia the collie into the wood that’s next to the cottage. A dreamy profusion of wild garlic has followed the earlier scattering of snowdrops, both finding their way into my designs.’

Susan Kerr’s silver jewellery is based on floral imagery and patterns. She has a great interest in Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles and tries to recapture the femininity of these times in her work. At the same time her designs are definitely contemporary, constructed with sensitivity towards making each piece balanced and wearable, and with a distinctive flair for metal work.

Although Rosie Villiers-Stuart lives in the north of England, the sea birds of Galloway inspire her to make many trips to Auchencairn and Caerlaverock. She paints watercolours with a delightful immediacy and encourages the viewer to be present in the moment. Often painting ‘en plein air’, her grit and determination were put to the test on a recent painting trip to the Bass Rock. Her watercolour ‘Gannet Sketches, Bass Rock’ was executed perched up on the rock under an umbrella as Gannets screeched around her, as she managed to note at the bottom of her sketch: ‘raucous noise and rich smells, squally showers, sun.’ Her painting captures the very essence of the place.

Sunday, 21 June 2009


Midsummer's day today and not much sunshine about but Jill spent the afternoon keeping the weeds down in the gallery garden.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Glasgow School of Art Degree Show

I went to the Glasgow School of Art Degree show this week. I love the whole experience of walking down endless corridors in the Mackintosh building and coming across rooms full of work. This year there were more painters and less installations which I think on the whole is a good thing. However, I was disappointed yet again by the lack of technical competency displayed by the the painters.

It had been my overwhelming impression last year that they weren't being taught painting as the beautiful craft that it is. Very few people even showed any competency mixing colour and handling the paint. I remember leaving the shows with a heavy heart and not a great deal had changed this year. Perhaps I was looking at the work too much through the eyes of a commercial gallery but I would like to think I could see past this aspect of my job.

This year there was a rash of painters showing semi-surreal crowded compositions, with no limits when it came to using all the colours in their palette. They definitely looked like they'd all been to the same class (in a bad way) and again I found this disappointing on behalf of the graduates.

Had they been shown the rules first and then allowed to develop their own style over the four years of their degree? My feeling is this doesn't happen and this is reflected in their final year work.

I really enjoyed some of the photography, not a medium I am normally drawn to, to the point where I wanted to buy one of the photographs that I saw - I can't get the image out of my head.

So, I didn't find any up and coming artists for the gallery this time but I'll keep looking.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Behind the scenes...

Here are a few photos from all the preparations for our Exhibition Opening last Friday.

Firstly we emptied the gallery and Grierson Glover made a fantastic job of cleaning the carpets.

On the day of the opening the kitchen looked like a flower stall as I prepared the flowers for the gallery. We chose lots of sweetpeas and posies from our garden to complement the wild flowers depicted by Sue Dunne on her ceramics.

Sue Dunne's ceramic eggs looked stunning on the glass table in our front room. I had been thinking of a good way to present them and that morning went out very early to pick grasses from the field in front of our house. I was really pleased with this solution - the grass stopped the eggs rolling around and reflected the delicacy of Sue's work.

I found this 'gallery red' hydrangea in a flower shop in Glasgow called Quid Est. I saw it sitting outside the shop and knew it would be perfect outside our gallery on the opening night.

This is Sue Dunne's ceramic 'House of Cards' in the gallery window.

At last we were all ready to go and our friend Jools arrived to help with the wine. Here we are with Sue Dunne's ceramic cabbage bowl and jug. The opening had a real buzz about it and was really enjoyable, thank you all for coming!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Friday Evening Preview

FIONA WATSON and whatever a sun will always sing is you Etching

Our Private View for Sue Dunne, Susan Watson,  Susan Kerr and Rosie Villiers-Stuart is tomorrow evening from 7pm - 9pm. We look forward to welcoming customers old and new to the gallery for a glass of wine and a chance to meet the artists.

We got all the pictures hung today but still have to place a lot of the ceramics, it will be another busy day tomorrow but the gallery looks transformed already. An all women show with no oil paintings - a complete contrast to our last show with two men who worked almost exclusively in oils.

Richard W. Boardman @ Dukes Hotel

Richard Boardman, who is exhibiting with us in August,  emailed me this great photograph. One of his sculptures has been bought by Dukes Hotel  in London. The Dachshund sits proudly in the Hotel entrance. 

Richard says "Just recently when I was in London I went to the Dukes Hotel where I was thrilled to see that they have my Dachshund in the entrance. Apparently practically everybody who enters the hotel touches it and it is also dusted everyday. The attached jpeg is from the Dukes hotel brochure and was taken when the Dachshund was first installed. Since then it has taken on the most wonderfully rich patina. The moral of the story being that the more a piece gets touched the richer and darker the patina becomes." 

Richard will be showing his work with paintings from Bourne Fine Art in our August exhibition. When I started to plan the exhibition programme I had a strong feeling that although his work is contemporary it would sit well with paintings from the 19th century, I think the picture above proves this nicely!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Yoga & Picasso in Malaga

On Saturday I got back from a Blissful Iyengar yoga holiday in Spain with Bonar Hutchison.

We had one day off from our yoga practice and this gave us a chance to go to Malaga for the day where art was never far from my mind! The Picasso Museum is a beautiful building, a perfect space for his work. The interior is cool and calm in spite of all the people enjoying the exhibitions. The way the work is hung makes for a very satisfying viewing experience: there is no information overload and every piece is given the space it needs.

This trip restored my faith in his work which had been shaken slightly after visiting the recent Picasso exhibition at the National Gallery in London. As is normal for any artist, and especially a prolific artist who was popular in his life time, the work is not always consistently great! The National Gallery exhibition was hung in a dark space and some of the work just wasn't that good. What a difference to view his work in his native Spain in such sympathetic surroundings and with skillful curation. I loved his very early work: Little paper cut outs of animals that he made when he was only nine and a wonderful oil painting of his sister that was painted when he was 15. Round every corner there was something to excite the eyes and I left feeling completely uplifted.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Sprucing up the gallery

FIONA WATSON Haberdash Etching

We are now getting ready for our evening Private View on Friday the 12th of June. We are having the carpets cleaned tomorrow and will close the gallery until Friday evening to let the carpets dry and reorganise the gallery layout to suit the new work.

SUE DUNNE Ceramics

This will also allow us time for a more complicated exhibition hanging than normal. We have a lot of wonderful ceramics from Sue Dunne in the exhibition and some of the ceramics need to be wall mounted.

SUSAN KERR Moonlight Necklace £290

We will be in the gallery as normal so if you want to view anything before Friday please call us on 01556 502468.

I look forward to seeing you all on Friday evening for a glass of wine and the first chance to see this exciting new exhibition.

ROSIE VILLIERS-STUART Moorhens Watercolour £190