Thursday, 10 September 2009

Feast Of Fine Work By The Artists Who Lunch

Pat Edgar and Allan Beveridge from the Artists' Lunch

A review of our current exhibition was published in The Galloway News today:

Feast Of Fine Work By The Artists Who Lunch

Sunday saw the start of a lively exhibition at McGill Duncan Gallery, featuring artists from the Dundee, Angus and Fife area, accompanied by a wealth of different ceramics from the gallery’s favourite potters.

The exhibition has an unusual title: ‘The Artists’ Lunch with a Feast of Pots’. Lil Neilson (1938-1998), an artist and friend of the late Joan Eardley, founded ‘The Artists’ Lunch’. Her idea was that as her artist friends often worked in isolation, they should have the chance to meet and exchange ideas, as well as good food and wine! The tradition continues to this day and all the artists exhibiting in Castle Douglas are members of this fascinating artistic group. Joe McIntyre from Dundee is showing a new collection of his oil paintings alongside the group.

Their styles are diverse and this has given the gallery space a vibrant energy. Two of the gallery’s regular exhibitors – John Johnstone and Barbara Robertson are part of the Artist’s Lunch group and the gallery thought that exhibiting work from the whole group would be a great chance to bring a diverse range of painting and printmaking from some very talented artists. John Johnstone’s eye catching and distinctive works are full of characters and unusual compositions. ‘Swings in a Red Sky’ is a vibrant painting of people swinging against the backdrop of a bright red sky, the people perched on swings appear from all corners of the painting and what is unusual is that they are not children playing on swings, but fully grown adults. It is unquestionably a ‘John Johnstone’ painting- you won’t find anyone else painting like him. John says he is interested in painting ‘characters’ not just people.

Another gallery favourite, printmaker Barbara Robertson, works exclusively in linocut. She has produced a linocut that is particularly appropriate for an exhibition in Castle Douglas – a cat called ‘Black Douglas’. But this is no ordinary cat, this cat has an evil looking toothy grin and a bright red heart round his neck, and he is perched on stone ramparts. Barbara says this came about as she has a friend with a cat called ‘Black Douglas’ and she imagined the cat as the evil resident of Threave Castle!

Rufus McKidd paints cows, in fact she loves painting cows so much that she paints nothing else. Her two paintings ‘Crail Cows’ and ‘Coastal Cows’ hang as a pair in the gallery, you can almost feel the cows’ heavy breath as you look at the paintings and Rufus has displayed great talent in her depiction of these peaceful beasts. She says many people have asked her to paint horses but she finds cows and all their different personalities far more interesting.

One of the largest etchings ever exhibited at the gallery is ‘Cabbages Under Snow’ by Dawson Murray RSW RGI. This well established artist and printmaker has shown incredible sensitivity in his depiction of what could be viewed by some as a mundane subject. His composition of soft curves and delicate colours takes the snowy garden into near abstraction and confronts the viewer with both the delicacy and tenacity of the cabbage plants, surviving through the harshest of winters.

To complement the exciting collection of paintings and prints the gallery is bursting with pots from ceramicists including a McGill Duncan Gallery first – ceramics from their first artist living and working in the USA. Ron Philbeck makes earthenware pots decorated with endearing scraffito drawings. Zoë Blamire from the gallery found Ron’s work through writing about the gallery on her Blog ( Ron writes regularly in his Blog and shares ideas through the Blogs of local potters Christine Smith and Hannah McAndrew. The Private View saw a rash of red dots on Ron’s Work and only three pieces remain. His ‘Washing Line’ design on plates was incredibly popular and the gallery could have sold them several times over.

‘The internet has made the world a smaller place and it is now much easier for artists to get their work and ideas across to a larger audience’ says Zoë, ‘living in different countries is no boundary and I think it’s wonderful that the Web can bring to my attention the work of artists from all over the world. And, in turn people living anywhere can read about what I’m doing here in Castle Douglas at the Gallery. I must admit that unpacking a parcel of pottery that had travelled all the way from the US was a little nerve wracking, but Ron’s work survived the journey - it was such a thrill to see it for real, only having seen the pottery before in photographs, and after reading about all about Ron’s creative exploits on his Blog.’

This eclectic and diverse show runs until the 10th of October.

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