Tag Archives: scottish art

Exhibitions and available paintings 2018

‘Cerulean Sea, Isle of Iona’. Mixed media on 10×10″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2018 £385

Here’s a round-up of my available paintings plus info on the galleries where you can find them…

Limetree Gallery – Website

*(gallery closes from 23rd to 29th Dec. Contact gallery on website link with any queries)

 

 

The Limetree (owned by Sue Dean and Stephen Edwards) specialises in contemporary Fine Art and Glass and holds regular exhibitions throughout the year. They have two galleries: one in the heart of Bristol city and the other in Long Melford, Suffolk.

They have a particular love of contemporary Scottish artists, and always have a varied selection of their art on show. Ranging from traditional to modern, figurative to abstract, each exhibition is complemented by a selection of individual glass pieces from Britain and Sweden.

Open from 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday, or by appointment.

My artist’s pages on the Limetree website – Paintings

Works on show at the Limetree:

Resipole Gallery – Website

Resipole Studios is an award-winning fine art gallery with on-site artist studios, located on the West Coast of Scotland.

 

The Resipole hosts an exciting annual programme of exhibitions and workshops of Scottish contemporary art that is both emerging and established. The gallery was launched in 2004 by Andrew Sinclair after a two-year renovation of an agricultural byre.

Since its launch, Resipole Studios continues to present work by artists of many disciplines, with Scotland as their key focus. With many award-winning artists on its roster, the gallery is regarded as one of Scotland’s leading contemporary art spaces and, consequently, in 2016 was selected to show work by the late, American abstract-expressionist, Jon Schueler to mark the centenary of his birth.

My artist’s page on the Resipole website – Paintings

Works on show at the Resipole ..

Morningside Gallery – Website

The Morningside Gallery (owned by Eileadh Swan) specialises in contemporary art and works with emerging and established artists.

My paintings will be showing as part of their ‘Small Works’ show, which launches 9th January 2019. (Price information will be available then)

Works on show at the Morningside Gallery from January 9th ..

Society of Scottish Artists

Photo – at the launch of 2018’s SSA Annual Open Exhibition

It was really lovely to be selected, along with 16 other artists,  as a Professional Member of the SSA recently.

The SSA (Society of Scottish Artists) is an artist-led organisation which holds an annual exhibition every year at the the RSA.

 

 

 

Artists are selected for; actively practising professionally within one or more branches of the visual arts and are selected in recognition of their talent and dedication in this field. 

It means I can add ‘SSA’ to the end of my name, which is nice! The SSA is a friendly, supportive organisation, run by its president, award-winning artist Sharon Quigley and a team of artists selected each year. Its honorary President is Richard Demarco CBE.

In addition to the SSA Annual Open, they organise a year-round programme of national and international exhibitions, also events, residencies and workshops.

If you’re interested, here’s a brief history of the SSA (copied from SSA website)  …

“The Society of Scottish Artists was founded in 1891, and held its first Annual Exhibition in the Royal Scottish Academy Gallery – then the Royal Institution. Its inaugural catalogue laid forth the SSA’s function as:

“… being formed with a view to holding an Annual Exhibition in Edinburgh, to give inducement to the younger Artists to produce more important and original works by providing hanging space for such works. The opportunity has also been taken to obtain for the Society’s Exhibition examples of all Schools of Modern Art from distinguished living Artists…”

The SSA and the members and government of the RSA enjoyed an uneasy relationship during the early years of the SSA’s existence. The SSA was seen as a “rebellious” and “progressive” group, while the RSA represented the more traditional and conservative stance. After many appeals, however, including some to the Queen and the House of Commons, the SSA secured the use of the RSA galleries for its Annual Exhibition from 1902.

There are few Scottish artists of note who have not, at one time or another, been involved with the SSA, with Presidents including James Cadenhead, Stanley Cursiter, William McTaggart, Edward Gage, George Wyllie and Barbara Rae. The roll call of members and exhibitors is also impressive, including –The Glasgow Boys (Guthrie, McGregor, Walton, Hornel and Roche), the Scottish Colourists (Cadell and Peploe), John Duncan, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and William McTaggart to name but a few.

The SSA also strove to represent the more “adventurous” work being done abroad and so exhibitions included the work of the Post Impressionists, Gauguin, Cezanne, Matisse and Van Gogh in 1913 and, in the same year, the Futurist, Gino Severini showed work. In 1922 the Sociey presented work by Picasso, Daumier, Degas and Forain. In 1931, the Society showed, for the first time in the UK, twelve canvases by the then highly controversial Edvard Munch who went on to become a member of the Society.

In 1934 the SSA showed a selection of work by international living artists including Paul Klee. At this exhibition, the Scottish National Gallery bought his “Approaching Snowstorm“, which is now on show in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Prices for work then ranged from £35 to £350, with a head in pastel by Picasso costing £210, while framed etchings by Matisse, Picasso and Salvador Dali were available for £5 each.

The SSA has continued in this vein to the present day, always willing to show the controversial, the unique and the most adventurous and challenging work available. Its network of artist members and contacts throughout the world gives it access to some of the most interesting work by contemporary artists, which it endeavours to bring to a Scottish public.

A fully illustrated history of the Society of Scottish Artists can be found in the book, published by the Society in its centenary year, “The First Hundred Years“. This book is available from the Society. Please CONTACT US for further details.”

(From SSA website – http://www.s-s-a.org

Edinburgh in the Snow (and a brief history of Edinburgh!)

Not for sale. Edinburgh Snow (High Street and Arthur’s Seat from Regent Road). Mixed media on 22×16 inch found wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

Today’s finished painting of Edinburgh in the snow. I’ll be submitting this for competition next month, wish it luck!

The view is from Regent Road looking across to Salisbury Crags on Arthur’s Seat. In the foreground you can see buildings of the Royal MIle obscured by snow.

I’ve deliberately kept it vague since that’s how it appears as you walk into a snow blizzard along Regent Road, which is underneath Calton Hill halfway down to the valley of the Royal Mile or High Street (my photo below from a few weeks ago) …

Walking along Regent Road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also wanted to get across the ‘feel’ of the Old Town, with its medieval buildings and wood timbers, hence the exposed wood in the painting and roughened edges, blurring old and modern buildings. Some close-up details below showing texture …

 

 

 

Edinburgh has just been voted the most popular tourist destination in the UK, and living here can make us a bit blasé about the features that make the city so unique and appealing, but the recent snow seemed to bring everyone out of winter hibernation. Arthur’s Seat was thronging with folks enjoying the snow – kids on sledges, a plethora of snowpeople! I slid about in the snow with my pal Donald, and it was great to see and experience…

 

 

And although I felt thwarted in my plans to get to the Cairngorms this spring due to train cancellations, I ended up appreciating Edinburgh instead. It is truly beautiful in the snow, hence these recent paintings (I’m working on a couple more).

So for those of you who don’t know so much about Edinburgh, and in the spirit of internationalism (and let’s face it, without the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh would be a fairly boring place arts and people-wise, not-with-standing my dear Edinburgh family and friends!) I thought I’d include some brief words about Edinburgh’s history.

Briefly though, today I decided for the first time to check overall blog stats since 2013 and it turns out that visitors to this blog include folks from, in order of most views:

UK, US, Germany, France, Poland, Australia, Canada, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, Switzerland, Greece, Japan,  Brazil, Belgium, Russia, India, New Zealand, Denmark, Columbia, Portugal, Dominican Republic, South Korea, Singapore, Quatar,  Hong Kong, Austria, Norway, Mexico, Jordan, Serbia, Turkey, Romania, Brazil, Czech Republic, Finland, Chile, Pakistan,  Hungary, UAE, Croatia, Slovenia, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Thailand, ,  Philippines, Malaysia, Luxenburg, Argentina, Taiwan, Georgia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Slovakia, China, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Malta, Nigeria, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Moldova, Albania, Panama, Vietnam and loads more going into vistor numbers under 50.

So, thank you to folks taking interest in an obscure Scottish painter’s blog!

Anyway, here we go with a condensed Edinburgh history (illustrated with my own photos) …

A condensed Edinburgh history …

Edinburgh Castle from Grassmarket

Edinburgh’s dramatic landscape was formed by volcanic activity that took place between around 358 and 298 million years ago.

The view from Edinburgh in my painting above sits between two of Edinburgh’s extinct volcanos – Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat. If my painting panned to the right you’d also see Edinburgh Castle on top of the volcanic plug that forms the base of the castle.

After volcanic activity ceased, the landscape was submerged under sea water. Sedimentary rock (formed by waves of sediment washed over the land by water over millions of years) then began to form the Salisbury Crags (the cliff seen in my painting and in photo to the right), which were gradually tilted up to their current dramatic angle as pressure eased after the ice age.

The ice-age sculpted Edinburgh’s landscape into the shape it retains to this day – for example the ‘spine’ that forms the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle down to Holyrood House was formed by retreating glaciers dragging or depositing debris with them to create a trail behind each hill and mountain.

18th cent’ map. ‘Spine’ of the Royal Mile, castle on left, Holyrood Palace at the right, at the bottom of the hill. http://www.royal-mile.com/maps/royalmile18thc.

These rocky promontories must have had immediate appeal to early settlers as look-out spots;  almost all of the summits of Edinburgh’s volcanic hills reveal signs of early bronze age people.

Although I’ve been walking around Arthur’s Seat since I was a kid, the fact that I now live so close to it has inspired me to explore more, and I’m beginning to get an ‘eye’ (with the help of my archaeologist friend Sabine!) for Bronze-age remains (shapes or patterns in the land as opposed to actual buildings) not to mention spotting Edinburgh’s early sites of worship, healing or spiritual interest – such as wells; the traces of which can be found alongside later Christian religious buildings and sites (more on this in later blogs).

Edinburgh in twilight from Arthur’s Seat. The castle easily spotable on the horizon

If we’re thinking about a definitive beginning for Edinburgh though, it would clearly be the Castle Rock; easily defendable with its sheer basalt cliffs. It was called Dun Edin (‘dun’ means hill) and we know that there were settlers there from at least 850BC

As more people settled around the dun, or rock, the city would have grown in reputation as a stronghold or well-defended fort.

 

 

The castle itself (or the original building) was built from around the 12th century. To protect the growing city that began to grow along the ‘spine’ of the Royal Mile down to Holyrood Abbey, a wall (the Flodden Wall, remains of which can be seen today) was built around the city, and this was the catalyst for the distinct, tall buildings or tenements that lined the Royal Mile or High Street.

A charming, cleaned up ‘close’ in Edinburgh’s High street today

Builders built upwards, not outwards, because of the restricting wall. As centuries passed this created fairly unsavoury conditions (extremely unsavoury by today’s standards!). Packed into twelve storey tenements, Edinburgh’s effluent had nowhere to go and (readers from Edinburgh will groan with boredom at this point, having heard this story too many times) the oft-heard cry of gardez l’eau (pronounced GARRRDY LOO! with a strong Scottish accent!)  rang in the streets as residents chucked the contents of their chamber pots into the filthy cobbled streets below.

(Edinburgh had long-held connections with France, for many reasons, hence the familiarity with French language)

Old Edinburgh featured narrow closes between the closely packed buildings

Disease was rife, and no matter how posh you might be, you lived cheek-by-jowl with ordinary folks. On top of that, numerous open fires in such a small, over-inhabited space meant that the High Street was black with soot and smoke, hence Edinburgh’s nick-name of ‘auld reekie’ (old stinky).

This issue (for Edinburgh’s rich inhabitants anyway) was finally addressed when an architecture design competition was held in the mid 18th century and a young architect called James Craig won (I think he was in his early to mid-twenties at the time, I’m not fact-checking most of this but do correct me if I’m wrong!).

James Craig’s plan for the New Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

new town splendour

The plan was to create an entirely new area outside the High Street/Royal Mile, across the valley (which now contains Princes Street Gardens and Waverley train station) to the north of the old town, hence why this area of Georgian architecture is called ‘the New Town’ to this day.

All the filth that had accumulated in the Nor Loch (the loch or lake below and to the north of the Castle Rock) was dredged, this, and the detritus from building the new town, was used to form a bridge south to north from old town to new town.

This was called the Mound, and atop of this now sits two of Edinburgh’s most elegant buildings; Edinburgh’s National Art Gallery and the Royal Scottish Academy of Arts (Stock photo above right, looking west along Princes Street).

Only the richest inhabitants of Edinburgh could afford this new luxury accommodation, so people in Edinburgh’s Old Town still had to muddle along with their chamber pots, and up to the 1970’s, the High Street was seen as a bit seedy. Nowadays, it’s the most distinct part of historic Edinburgh and the most popular tourist destination. It retains an extraordinary level of historical features, not disimilar to cities such as York, which was similarly ‘neglected’, thankfully, for the sake of history at least.

This brings us pretty close to the present day, but the18a and 1900’s were truly, literally, headier times to say the least. Maybe it was imbibing all that volcanic spring water, but Scotland’s Enlightenment (much of which was born from, or whirred around the hub of Edinburgh)  is rightly perceived as impressive for a wee, chilly country in the north (read more Here)

As a born and bred Edinburgher, thinking about the sheer magnitude, depth and breadth of invention, creativity and brain power of Edinburgh’s Enlightenment days brings a tear to my eye!

Yet, as I wander around the slopes of Arthur’s Seat, the voices I wish I knew more about are those of Edinburgh’s less vocal past; ordinary folks who held sacred vigil at the wells of Arthur’s Seat, long before the hand of organised (politicised) religion silenced their voices and beliefs. We only know what their thoughts and beliefs may have been because of the numerous court cases at the time of the Protestant Reformation …

That will be the subject of my next painting series; the wells and springs of Arthur’s Seat. I know I’ve mentioned it several times, but it’s a bit ambitious, I’ve been researching alot – there is much mystery to reveal (genuinely, I’ve discovered some interesting, possibly new information about those times) and so I have now postponed the exhibition and event to the 21st June.

St Anthony’s spring, Arthur’s Seat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s paintings

P1010463 P1010453 P1010466I acquired a few smaller canvases this weekend so decided to experiment today.

The painting on wood is on top of a painting of Moffat from last year which I didn’t like so ended up using as a pallete (why waste all those interesting colours I thought) so I’ve just enhanced it.

I’m quite happy with the mood of the larger square work – a sort of ‘gloaming’ or half light. They could all do with a bit more definition though so I’ll work on them tomorrow.

I can see various ideas emerging from the painting in the middle so will have a think..

Borders Country – WASPS

P1220485On Sunday I visited Selkirk in the Scottish Borders where Selkirk’s WASPS Artists Studios was celebrating it’s 10th anniversary with a Spring exhibition. I feel this project is truly up and running now that I’ve started to meet creative Borderers in person!

Rose, Mary and Grace Smith

Myself, Mary Morison and Grace Smith (photo Donald Ferguson)

I’d contacted artist Mary Morrison (also Creative Leader of the Creative Arts Business Network funded by Creative Scotland and Scottish Borders Council) to let her know about my project before dropping in to Selkirk WASPS yesterday. Mary was imediately helpful and enthusiastic, with a wealth of useful links, places, books and contacts for me to follow up; so I’ll be posting about these over the next month or so.

 

This is what I really enjoy about working on projects this way – the organic development of meeting people, growth of ideas and the enjoyable lack of certaintly about where it will all lead creatively!

John Berry, Rob Hain, Alex Hain, Kerry Jones and Rose

John Berry, Rob Hain, Alex Hain, Kerry Jones and myself (Photo Donald Ferguson)

WASPS Selkirk currently has 13 artists renting the studios. Mary and all the artists I met there gave me a warm welcome – this is a lively, creative space so there was a really nice energy about the place.

I took time to look around the works on display, which were very varied in creative approach – all artists working to a high or professional standard in their particular style, or area of interest.

Studios

Studios

I also looked around some of the studio spaces (backstage as it were) and was intrigued to discover the studio of artist Alan Richmond (as a landscape artist I’d encountered his work online while researching and admired the textures, subtlety and techniques of his work). Have a look through the artists’ websites I’ve listed below, to explore their work in more detail. (I could post photos I took of the artists’ work but I’d rather the works were viewed as presented by the artists themselves).

WASPS Studios originated in Dundee in the 70s, as an affordable solution for artists needing studio space. They’re now situated throughout Scotland in the main cities and in quite a few larger towns. They’re usually developed from former industrial buildings with either separate studio rooms or partitioned areas.

There’s a long, long, waiting list if you’d like to rent a studio as they’re in high demand and the standard is generally very good as studios go. It’s a great way to share resources and support with fellow artists, since, let’s face it, most artists aren’t earning very much! (According to the official WASPS brochure the average artist earns just £5000 per year through their artwork.)

wasps-studios-june-2014-4-638Exhibitions at WASPS are artist-led and can happen any time of year, but as with most artists’ studios, there are ‘Open Studio’ events once a year where the studios are open to the public.

P1220484Selkirk Wasp’s Open Studios event is in October this year, so don’t miss it if you’re nearby! Personally I really enjoy Open Studio events as It’s a really interesting way to see the work, where it’s created, in a slightly less formalised setting, and to chat with the artists over a coffee or glass of wine or two.

Below is a list of the Selkirk WASPS artist’s websites (not all have sites but I’ve included links to Selkirk WASPS website and if there are updates I shall add them as I go). I think you’ll enjoy browsing through the work; as mentioned there’s an interesting variety of approaches, all by experienced, talented artists.

Lastly, I’d just like to say many thanks to Mary Morrison and all the artists I met yesterday for their friendly welcome and helpful ideas (as mentioned, in the next few days I’ll be posting more about Selkirk and its surrounds). I’ll drop in there again at some point. Also I’m sure interesting opportunities to exhibit, work together, or just share ideas and news will come up this year as I carry on with my meandering exploration of the Borders!

WASPS Selkirk Artists

John Berry – johnberryart@btinternet.com

Jim Douglas – jdoug.9876@virgin.net

http://www.lizdouglas.co.uk/

http://www.graceink.co.uk

Alex Hain – http://www.facebook.com/AlexanderHain

http://www.robhain.com

http://www.ruffledfeatherspuppets.co.uk/

http://www.moymackaygallery.com/

Fiona Millar – fionamillar@fastmail.co.uk

http://www.marymorrison.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/Joy.Parker.Art.Page

http://www.colinphilip.co.uk

http://www.alanrichmond-artist.co.uk/

On the road, through the undulating hills of the Borders…

P1220404

50 Paintings of Eigg Series. No. 12

P1100601P1100604

Today’s painting is a misty bird’s-eye view of Sgorr an Fharaidh (the cliffs at Cleadale); the setting for an atmospheric sculpture of Sweeney (or Suibhne in Gaelic) by artist Trevor Leat, which I discovered on a twilit evening amongst the rocks at the foot of the cliffs.

 

P1090957

 

I was curious to know more about the stories and myths behind the character of Sweeney; described as a mad-man or bird-man, or denounced as mad then cursed and ostracised for his beliefs. I got in touch with Trevor, a former resident of Eigg, who now lives and works in Dumfriesshire, to ask about the background and inspiration to the sculpture…

 

 

 

Rose: Trevor, can you firstly tell me a little about your background as an artist and what you do?

Trevor: Well I trained as basketmaker years ago. Then began working on outdoor performance projects and theatre companies making large scale sculptures…often involving fire. This has continued to develop and my work now tends to be of more figurative creatures for private and public places

moongate n Trevor

R: What’s the background to the Sweeney project and can you tell me how you became involved?

T: I lived on Eigg for 10 years so when the Bothy Project started up there I was invited to an artist in residence.

 

R: So who was Sweeney and what are the myths and stories about him?

T: Sweeney was an Irish king around 6/7thC who fell out with a Christian monk who was trying to convert his subjects. As a result a curse was placed on him and for seven years he wandered naked in Ireland and Britain, roosting in trees and becoming birdlike. It’s suggested that he came to Eigg at some point. He eventually died a sad death, perhaps stabbed by a jealous sword or antler . He chanted an epic poem during his madness which survives and has been translated and interpreted.

sweeney on his throne

R: What does Sweeney represent to you, do you feel there’s a universal message in the myth or story?

T: I liked the image of the half bird, half man Sweeney. He was holding on to his pagan beliefs and this comes through in the tale of his wandering and the encounters he made on this journey.

R: What made you decide on the area at the foot of the cliffs in Cleadale?

T: Originally I planned to place him roosting in a tree but there aren’t many suitable on Eddie and Lucy’s croft. I climbed the hill at the back of the bothy to survey the possibilities and meanwhile sat the sculpture on the rocks there. He fitted perfectly on the stone there and it became his throne…fitting for a king!

R: Can you tell me a little about the process of making him?

T: Well, first I read up on the poem and got a feel for his tale. I made some sketches of him perching. There was a blackbird singing outside the bothy in the mornings and I decided a birds head would work for the sculpture. I welded up a simple steel rod armature and over this wove layers of peeled willow to give it form and movement . I had brought the willow with me and soaked it in the nearby burn to make it pliable. For the head I used some rough green willow to add a striking contrast to the naked white willow torso. Finally I sprayed the willow with linseed oil to give some protection from the Atlantic storms.

Sweeney's bothy, Eigg

Sweeney’s bothy, Eigg

R: What response do you hope viewers have when encountering Sweeney?

T: Well one of surprise and curiosity I hope. The setting is spectacular with the cliffs in front of you and the peaks of Rum behind. I hope they will hear some bird song too.

R: How was your artist’s residency on Eigg, and how did it feel to be back?

T: It was a great couple of weeks for me on Eigg. I had come over early for an island wedding, so much socialising during the first week. Then the bothy became a retreat for me, a haven. The weather was wild at times, gentle on others and Sweeney grew. It is such an amazing place to visit and for me a great opportunity to re-visit and reconnect with the place that I left 24 years ago

R: Can you tell me about any upcoming projects and where can we can see more of your work?

T: I have several sculpture commissions for this summer. I will be making a ‘warhorse’ at Inverewe Garden, Poolewe, in June and on the Wickerman for the music festival in Kirkudbrightshire. I have sculptures at Falkland Palace, Scone Palace, Calagary Sculpture Trail on Mull, Craig Tara in Ayrshire.

You can find out more about Trevor’s work Here.

Below, an excerpt from Sweeney’s poem (as translated by James G. O’Keeffe  -The whole of Buile Suibhne can be read Here)..

I am Suibhne, noble leader, P1090966
cold and joyless is my abode,
though I be to-night on wild peaks,
O woman who pluckest my watercress.

My mead is my cold water,
my kine are my cresses,
my friends are my trees,
though I am without mantle or smock.

From Buile Suibhne (The Frenzy of Suibhne

Seamus Heaney also translated the poem and unfortunately I can’t find a translation online but there are references to it Here

More about Sweeney’s Bothy on Eigg Here