Saturday, 29 August 2009

Galloway Paintings and Sculpture from Italy

Our Galloway Paintings exhibition closed today. It was as poplar as ever and we have become very fond of all the work on show. Here's a review of the show which appeared in the Galloway News on Thursday:

Galloway Paintings and Sculpture from Italy

Those with an interest in the history of Galloway, as well as art lovers, will enjoy the latest exhibition at McGill Duncan Gallery in Castle Douglas. The gallery is showing Scottish paintings from the 19th Century onwards with a particular slant towards painters who lived and worked in Galloway. There is a significant body of work from two local artists in particular: William Stuart McGeorge RSA and Alick Riddell Strurrock RSA. The centrepiece of the exhibition is an impressive painting by McGeorge of the bridge at Tongland near Kirkcudbright, soft colours and masterly impressionistic brushstrokes make the work extremely decorative and this is balanced by the strength of the composition and structure of the bridge. Many local people will know the spot as a great place to watch salmon leap.

McGeorge (1861-1931), who was born in Castle Douglas, was a member of the Kirkcudbright School of painters and studied at Antwerp Academy with Hornel. Hornel influenced his work but a later disagreement ended their friendship.

Sturrock settled in Gatehouse after the War, having previously studied at the Royal Scottish Academy Life School and Edinburgh Collage of Art. He had also travelled extensively on a Scholarship awarded to him at the Royal Scottish Academy. Sturrock is known for his paintings of trees and the exhibition shows a wide range of his paintings as well as a pencil drawing of his and his wife’s favourite ‘picnicking spot’ at Anwoth Woods near Gatehouse.

Many of the artists featured in this show are also starring in the ‘Home Again’ Exhibition at Kirkcudbright Town Hall. Zoë Blamire who runs the gallery with her mother Jill Blamire said ‘We love this yearly exhibition as it’s such a privilege to sell work by such prestigious Scottish artists. We always learn more about their history as the exhibition goes on, as local people have a lot of knowledge and interest in this work.’

The work of an artist who casts his sculptures in bronze is also on show at the gallery. It is contemporary but sits well with the older paintings and their impressive gilt frames. Sculptor Richard W. Boardman lives and works in Lucca, Italy. His sculptures are cast at the prestigious Bronzarte foundry in Pietrasanta Italy. Pietrasanta has one of the best reputations in the world, artists such a Henry Moore had their work cast there.

Animals Sculpture makes up the body of work in the exhibition and the influence of folk stories from Richards’s Russian heritage is evident in their form. A large bronze Elephant graces the gallery window and the work is so tactile that people are drawn to give him a pat as they walk into the gallery. A striking double fountain of two foxes has been installed in the largest gallery space and there is a further fish fountain in the gallery space that looks out towards the garden.

The magical gallery garden at the back of the building has proved the perfect space for exhibiting sculpture. A bird fountain was installed in the garden by Richard for the Opening Day of the exhibition but it was sold straight away and has already been installed in it’s new home!

Getting 28 bronze sculptures from Italy took a lot of planning and Jill and Zoë Blamire have been working to bring this work to the gallery for over two years. ‘We knew we wanted Richards work in the gallery even before we opened, but we wanted to wait until we were established and had a couple of years worth of exhibitions under our belt before we attempted such an ambitious project. It has taken a lot of work and organisation but we were delighted when the crates of sculpture finally arrived from Italy. It was a very exciting day for us.’

McGill Duncan Gallery lends itself very well to displaying an exhibition of sculpture as the gallery has a meandering space filled with interesting nooks and crannies for displaying the work – round every corner you will find many different creatures, including a seal, squirrel, chicken, a fox; and even a fox with wings! The Galloway Paintings exhibition runs until the 29th of August and the Bronze Sculptures and Fountains are in the gallery until the end of October.

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