Monday, 30 November 2009

12 Artists, 12 Pots and the 12 Days of Christmas

Hannah McAndrew with Jill - it was really cold today so we were all wrapped up in many layers!

Hannah McAndrew delivered the pots for our Christmas Exhibition today. The special collaboration between her and eleven other Galloway artists is really exciting. Most have never worked with clay before and each has decorated one of Hannah's Slipware Pots. The results are so pleasing and I feel there may be a rush for them at the Private View!

I can now reveal the artists who have taken part, and they are:

1. Lisa Hooper - Printmaker
2. Andy Priestman - Potter, Painter
3. Kay Ribbens - Hat Maker
4. Maggie Savage - Painter
5. Hazel Campbell - Painter
6. Silvana McLean - Painter, Printmaker
7. Adam Booth - Blacksmith
8. John Threlfall - Painter
9. Phil McMenemy - Photographer
10. Trevor Leat - Willow Sculptor
11. Amanda Simmons - Glass Aritist
12. ... and Hannah McAndrew of course - Slipware Potter

Hannah has worked really hard on this project and we thank her and all the artists who've taken part.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Christmas Window

We decided to decorate the window for Christmas shopping today.

A red Anita Klein 'Angel Trying on Shoes' hand coloured etching, Aliisa Hyslop's 'Moonskaters' painting and Gail Kelly's 'Holly' linocut on linen.

We've got little red lights round the window and a big cluster of baubles suspended above.

Thursday, 26 November 2009


Meet Poppy...

The newest edition to the gallery team. The question is: how many paintings will I be able to fit in the back of a Fiat 500?

She is also featured on Fiat 500: The Best Car Blog

Web site expansion

I am very pleased to announce the first part of our web site expansion. Click here to go to the new page and view a selection of the artwork that we have for sale at the moment - it will be an ever changing part of the site so check back often!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Twelve Pots in D & G Life Magazine

Our forthcoming exhibition is featured on page 113 of the December issue of Dumfries and Galloway Life Magazine. Our exhibition 'Gimpses of Galloway' includes 12 pots made by local potter Hannah McAndrew and decorated by 12 artists who live and work in Galloway. Most have never worked with clay before. Journalist Mary Smith wrote about this in her Arts News pages for the magazine.

If you click on the the article above it should open in a larger, more readable format.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


We had a VIP visitor today. Our good friend Roger Lever brought his beautiful dog Rose for her first visit to the gallery.

Rose was rescued from the most appalling cruelty imaginable. She had been left tied up inside two bin liners and shoved under some bushes near a roundabout. Roger is a vet from The Bard Veterinary Group and he and his team of nurses nursed her back to health. She now lives very happily with the Lever family. As well as being a vet, Roger is also a talented photographer, you can read more of Rose's story on his web site.

I lent Rose my pearl necklace to wear for an impromptu photo shoot and she looked quite magnificent in it!

Monday, 16 November 2009

London with Leo

Anish Kapoor's Sculpture outside The Royal Academy of Arts.

I had a lovely time a couple of weeks ago, with a spur of the moment visit to London - one of my favourite places. We did so much, and had such a great time I have been putting off writing about it, for fear of not being able to convey how great it all was, but here goes.

Grayson Perry is one of my all time favourite artists and his exhibition was about to end at the Victoria Miro Gallery so I decided there was nothing else for it - I had to go. My brother Leo could get a couple of days off work and was in need of a mini holiday so we planned a marathon trip round lots of fantastic exhibitions in London. With only one night away, we left Glasgow at 7:30 in the morning to guarantee as much time away as possible. I really rather like train journeys - as long as you have some nice snacks, something interesting to read and your ipod, the whole experience can be quite relaxing.

After a lovely lunch in Carluccios (excellent gluten free menu) we walked to the Victoria Miro Gallery. Somewhat hidden behind a MacDonalds, the gallery is in a large converted warehouse in Islington. I was astonished by the lovely space, so unexpected after our hunt to find it. Large white rooms and a tranquil Japanese garden at the back. Grayson's work was at the the top of a high concrete staircase. His Walthamstow Tapestry, 3 metres by 15 metres, had been specially made for the space in a huge room. The colours used in the tapestry were much more garish than the palate Grayson uses for his pots and were more similar to the brash brightness of the embroidery on some of his dress designs. The work is crammed with familiar brand names: IKEA, Sony, Laura Ashley, Heinz, the list could go on and on. Yet, when you look at the work as a whole, the pictures, patterns and shapes rather cleverly take precedence over the text, which could easily have been overwhelming. The tapestry takes you on a journey from birth to death with a middle aged lady in a headscarf as the centrepiece. Leo thought she was The Queen and I thought it was Grayson in a head scarf - perhaps that was his aim? Alongside the tapestry there were two magnificently sized etchings, made up of over five plates each, a tapestry for Alan Measles (Grayson's bear and childhood companion) and several grand looking pots. They were very large- I think if he had included smaller pieces the enormous tapestry would have overwhelmed them. I love the way he layers transfers, drawings, clear coloured glazes and gold lustre to create a rich collage on the surface of the pots and I love his style of drawing. He is a master of creating beauty...but almost always with a nasty, fantastical edge.

Leo wanted to see Ed Ruscha at The Hayward Gallery. It wasn't something I would have gone to if I'd been on my own but I thoroughly enjoyed it and got far more from his work that I would ever have imagined. His integrity shone from the large canvases, with the concrete jungle of The Hayward providing a suitably industrial setting. Many have attempted to make the kind of works he makes with too much of an ego driven eye on trying be cool or fashionable. You could tell, without question, that Ruscha was creating from his heart and his works since then have been taken up as iconic by imitators. His work is beautifully and meticulously made and the colour almost vibrates on the canvas. His mountain series was particularly captivating and I also loved his early work focusing on single words on a colour.

We walked along the South Bank back to our hotel near St Paul's Cathedral and the moon above the Thames was huge. I took this photo on my phone.

In the evening we met up with Saskia Pomeroy who exhibited in our Printmakers exhibition this year. She took us to a fantastic pub in Islington, The Duke of Cambridge, for a delicious meal.

The next morning, after the best coffee in in London at Cecconi's, located behind The Royal Academy, we went to the Anish Kapoor exhibition. The Steel Ball sculpture in the courtyard is spectacular, reflecting down a birds eye view of the surrounding architecture. It was a strange experience to go into the grand rooms of The Royal Academy and see them bereft of paintings. The gallery spaces were busy with school children on trips with their teachers. Their excitement and sheer numbers gave the space a noisy buzz. Their presence couldn't have been more appropriate, as for me, Kapoor's work conveyed a childish sense of playfulness and possibility and I don't use the word childish in a derogatory way. Taken to a grand scale his work reminded me of playing in a sand pit and trying to make the tallest mound of sand, or collecting as much mud as possible in buckets - the kind of meditative play that pushes the task in hand to the limit - the toppling of the sand, the overflowing bucket of mud - and then Kapoor seems to ask: what would happen if we could just keep going? Leo and I waited for some time for the cannon to fire its large wax pellet at 50 miles an hour through two gallery rooms. In previous firings some of the wax hadn't made it far across the room at all but the one we saw fired at great speed and stuck to the facing wall - very satisfying! The build-up to the firing, which happens every twenty minutes throughout the day, and the deadly silence of the crowded gallery, followed by a collective rush of relief when the cannon fired, made the piece far more powerful that one could imagine unless one had been there to witness it. The whole exhibition was energising and untaxing but had a lasting quality that meant I have returned to think about the pieces often in the couple of weeks since I saw them.

Having cooked from the excellent Leon cook book, I wanted to go there for lunch. We found it near Carnaby Street with the queue spilling onto the street. It is very much healthy fast - food with each dish being given to you in a little cardboard box but it was hearty and enjoyable and just the fuel we needed to continue on to the next and final exhibition.

We walked (via some shops!) to The National Gallery to see The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600 - 1700. It couldn't have been more of a contrast form the art we saw that morning. The Sainsbury Wing Galleries which are very dark at the best of times were even more dimly lit, ready for the drama we were about to witness. I am phobic about wax models, and even shop dummies, so I wondered if I'd get round this exhibition at all. However, I had my headphone audio tour playing and hearing about the amazing craftsmanship that went into the life size carvings I managed to just relax and was able to marvel at the incredible work and serious devotion that went into making everything from the paintings to the sculpture. No detail was spared when depicting Christ's suffering and, as the audio guide pointed out, this is shocking for people in the present day and especially those without a Catholic background. However, the exhibition helped me understand that the feeling these pieces of art were trying to create in the viewer or worshipper was all important and, really, that is a universal stipulation for all great art. I think my favourite room was devoted to St Francis of Assisi. Francisco de Zurbaran's painting 'Saint Francis Standing In Ecstasy' depicted St Francis as he was said to have been found by a Pope who entered his tomb many years after his death - standing bold upright, eyes gazing upwards. It was incredibly powerful and painted with the most unbelievable skill and sensitivity.

Many of the pieces had been taken from their places of worship for the first time and the significance of this was not lost on me. These pieces mean very much more to many people than works of art and the purpose for which they were made, three hundred years ago, has lasted. 'Lasting' is what makes good art great. We talk about that all the time in the gallery when Jill and I are choosing work for exhibitions.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Count down to 'Glimpses of Galloway'

WINIFRED HODGE Screel Bengairn and Loch Ken

We are busy busy busy getting ready for 'Glimpses of Galloway' which starts in under a month's time on Saturday the 5th of December.

I am updating the 'exhibitions' section of the web site all the time at the moment, as I am adding one image from each artist in the show as they are sent to me. So do check it out. The work from Sandy Murphy RSW RSA has arrived in the gallery already and it is quite brilliant - we are looking forward to this show with great excitement.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Red Squirrel Christmas Picnic

Our 2009 Christmas cards went on sale in the gallery last week and have been very popular already. They cost £3 for a pack of five cards with envelopes.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Exhibition Review

ALISSA HYSLOP Sea Salsa acrylic on board £850

Here's a review of our current exhibtion. An edited version of this article appeared in The Galloway News on the 5th November.

McGill Duncan Gallery in Castle Douglas opened their new exhibition with a lively, well attended, Friday evening Preview Event. Since then, the work on show has been much admired and complimented on by gallery regulars and new customers alike.

The exhibition is showcasing the work of four artists: Anita Klein, Aliisa Hyslop, Ken Grierson and Ewan McClure. Both Anita Klein and Aliisa Hyslop are internationally recognised for their striking figurative work. They both depict the human form in affectionate and often humorous ways. Their endearing paintings and prints have been published by Canns Down press as Greetings Cards, so many will feel familiar with their work.

Anita Klein is one of Britain’s most prestigious and popular printmakers and is a past president of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. Her depictions of Angels range from sensuous to mischievous. A large Carborundum print ‘Angel with a Bottle of Wine’ sweeps through the sky, with a glass of red wine in one hand, and a bottle in the other, ready to top up her glass! Klein is a master of composition. As a student at Slade School of Art she was awarded a travelling scholarship, which enabled her to spend time in Italy studying frescos. She fell in love with the frescos of Piero Della Francesca, and his masterly composition still influences her own work. She now lives part of the time in Italy and this year had a major exhibition in London of her ‘Italian Angel’ paintings. She painted 52 angels, which represented the changing seasons and ‘everyday miracles’, such as the lemon trees or the lavender plants which abound in her town in Italy. McGill Duncan Gallery is selling signed copies of her book, which accompanied this project.

Aliisa Hyslop made her first visit from her home to near Edinburgh to Castle Douglas for the Exhibition Opening. Jill and Zoë contacted her over a year ago to ask her to exhibit and were so pleased when the paintings Aliisa had been working on for them arrived. Aliisa’s work can’t help but provoke an affectionate response from the viewer. They have a calm, otherwordly feel about them. Her subjects are often placed in a snowy landscape, perhaps reflecting her part Finnish heritage. Aliisa’s painting ‘Sea Salsa’, hanging in the front room of the gallery ‘makes people smile as they come through the door’ say gallery owners Zoë and Jill Blamire.

Ken Grierson and Ewan McClure both work with traditional mediums and their subjects - landscape and still life – give the exhibition grounding and hang perfectly next to the obviously feminine figurative works by Anita Klein and Aliisa Hyslop. Ken Grierson has produced an outstanding body of Galloway Landscapes for the show. His pencil drawings have an almost musical, rhythmic quality, to them. All his pencil strokes travel in the same direction, but the line of each stroke is composed of many tones and breaks. This builds a picture that people are drawn into. Carrick and Loch Ken are featured as well as his home patch of Parton. Ken Grierson is known for his bespoke hand screen-printed fabrics and he has used this affinity with fabric to paint some of the paintings on calico. ‘Parton Mill Burn’ is painted with gouache on calico. The surface of the painting has a wonderful texture and it was noted at the Opening Night that the river direction changes, depending on the side from which you view the painting! Ken said he wasn’t aware he was creating this effect when he was working on the painting but this trick of the eye has caused much interest from customers in the gallery.

The only artist showing works in oils is a master of this medium. Ewan McClure’s work demonstrates a deep understanding and study of ‘The Old Masters’. His still life studies make the ordinary into the extraordinary. His painting ‘Stirrers’, of a pot of wooden spoons, has made many visitors comment with affection on the pot in their own kitchen, where they keep their wooden spoons. Giving each of his subjects - no matter how ordinary - is one of Ewan’s great talents. A rainy day on his holiday in Spain this summer is remembered in his painting ‘Rainy Ronda’. He shows the way the pavement glistened with puddles and how people huddled together in their rain macs. Viewers are amazed by the way he has conveyed the wetness of the downpour and the shiny rain coats with their plastic transparency. Perhaps it also serves as a reminder of our own recent rainy summer in Galloway!

The exhibition continues until Saturday 28th November.

Monday, 2 November 2009

New pots

Here are some photos of our new pots, all birthday presents for Jill and me.

The first three photos are of a commission from ceramicist Christine Smith, to commemorate an important birthday for Jill this year.

It hangs above our front door, and shows our dog Beano chasing ducks. Christine has really captured Beano's looks, and more importantly his personality!

This magnificent jug by potter Paul Young was a present from Mum and Dad (Jill and Roger) for my birthday. It has a really shiny glaze and I love the way the brown glaze has run from the 'buttons' of clay on the surface of the jug. It's quite large but very light and balanced. I can imagine it with pink peonies in it. I'll have to wait until next year for that.

I was also lucky enough to receive this gorgeous Lemur dish - it was also made by Christine Smith. Jill bought it at Potfest In The Park for me.