Monday, July 31, 2017

'Complementary Contrasts' - Jenny Matthews and Angus McEwan RWS RGI RSW

WATERCOLOUR isn’t always taken as seriously as it should be. Perhaps it suffers from the days when it was considered an “accomplishment” for well brought up young ladies, like embroidery or holding a tea cup in the proper manner. Or perhaps it has seemed to be stuck for too long in the realm of the Sunday afternoon hobbyist.
Jenny Matthews says: “When I tell people I work in watercolour, I can see them thinking, ‘I know what watercolour is, it’s probably small and a bit twee’. People don’t imagine the strong colours, the big scale. I quite enjoy surprising people.

Jenny Matthews - Looking Upwards

Anyone with a preconceived notion of what watercolour is will be surprised by the work of Jenny Matthews and Angus McEwan. Two of the top artists in Scotland working in the medium, and both recognised internationally for their achievements, they aren’t afraid to push it in new directions. Being exhibited together here for the first time, their work demonstrates the contrasting ways in which watercolour can fulfil its potential.

Angus McEwan - Natural Selection

Jenny Matthews - Transition

Jenny Matthews studied botanical painting under Dame Elizabeth Blackadder at Edinburgh College of Art, and fell in love both with flowers and with watercolour. Ever since then, she has worked with both, balancing water and pigment to capture the bright colours she loves: the ochre of a tulip, the deep blue of an iris. “I feel watercolour is really descriptive. If you’re trying to portray plants, it works really well; there are lot of markings on flowers which look as though they have been painted in watercolour.”

Jenny Matthews - Fading Tulips

Angus McEwan had to go all the way to China to discover the potential of the medium. In 1996 he was awarded the prestigious Alastair Salveson travel scholarship, he packed watercolours because he didn’t have room in his luggage for his oils and acrylics. “I thought: ‘How hard can it be?’” he grimaces. “The first paintings I did were awful.
Since those early days Angus has come a long way and has won numerous international watercolour awards as well as being invited to judge several international watercolour competitions.

Angus McEwan - Busy Corner

Angus has developed his own style, building up layers of paint to create the realist depictions of weathered surfaces and buildings for which he is highly acclaimed: atmospheric evocations of old, once-inhabited places. “I find watercolour really versatile. I can get the crisp quality I want with detail, I can get a richness and depth by building up layers. A lot of people have quite strict rules about it; I quite like breaking these rules.”

Angus McEwan - Rose Amongst Thorns

Listening to Angus and Jenny talk, one quickly becomes aware of the contrasting ways they work with the medium - and make it work for them. I hear about the varying properties of pigments and paper; broad brushes, fine brushes, even a toothbrush; layering, splattering and stippling; keeping a painting balanced on the edge of control. One is left in no doubt that this is a robust contemporary medium requiring considerable technical skill and ripe for experimentation.

Jenny Mathews - A Good Year

Through the complementary contrasts of their work, one sees a range of what can be achieved. As Angus says: “I keep returning to this incredible medium, even though it is considered by some as a lesser way of working. This exhibition will demonstrate that there is a lot more to watercolour than many people think.”

Susan Mansfield, July 2017

The exhibition runs at Smithy Gallery from 6 August until 3 September.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Phil McLoughlin and Joyce Gunn Cairns

In May we are pairing two very different artists - Phil McLoughlin and Joyce Gunn Cairns. They are exhibiting for the very first time together in their exhibition 'Real Imaginings'.

Phil McLoughlin - Write and Record

Joyce Gunn Cairns - Triumvirate

Each of us is attracted to different work for different reasons. I personally like to be stopped in my tracks. This happens rarely and when it does my heart beats a little faster as I feel something new and unique. I think is takes an artist of incredible talent to have this effect on the viewer.

Phil McLoughlin - Veneration

I was first introduced to Joyce Gunn Cairns, the fabulous Edinburgh artist, not long after I opened the gallery in 2005 and I was delighted to come across Phil McLoughlin's work more recently being exhibited in the RGI. Both artists have had this impact on me.

As different as the work looks in style, there is a depth and tension there, speaking (or rather not speaking) volumes.

Joyce Gunn Cairns - Her Summer Oufit

The exhibition opens on Sunday 7th May.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Coming Next in 2016

2016 is going to be the year of exciting exhibitions and new arrivals.

In April, the Smithy baby is due!  We will be spending a little time getting our wee one trained up in the ways of the art world before returning to the gallery at the end of July. Here we will be organising our new exhibition, the annual Affordable Art Show for its opening at the beginning of August.

This is an exhibition of smaller works by a host of painters, ceramicists and jewellers. All works are priced under £500.  This is a great way for art-lovers to add to their collections, or for first-time buyers to begin theirs with an affordable piece of work.

In September, we are delighted that the esteemed landscape and still life painter Sandy Murphy RSW RGI PAI will be having a large solo exhibition of new works. Sandy had a very successful solo exhibition with us in 2013 and we are delighted that he will be returning.


In October, the incredibly popular Gordon Wilson will be also be returning to the gallery for a solo exhibition of new and exciting works. Gordon's work attracts large crowds of admirers - a show not to be missed!

We will be busy with our new arrival in April, but from May to July, we will have mixed works to view at the gallery alongside our ranges of jewellery and ceramics.

Visits to the gallery over this period will mainly be available by appointment, and we will keep you updated with any fixed opening times.

We will always be contactable by email and also through our facebook page.

Many thanks for supporting Smithy Gallery and please feel free to get in touch anytime.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cathy Campbell

We are delighted to be exhibiting paintings by oil painter Cathy Campbell in a two person exhibition alongside digital painter Kevin Low.

Sweet Medicine
Cathy Campbell studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, (BA Fine Art)
from 1982 to 1986.

She is a colourist in the true sense of the word.  The process most often begins with a window or natural light.  Her ideas come from light falling on the many objects that she has accumulated. 

Early Days

Some of her works take on a luminescent, gentle impressionist quality, although others have a more na├»ve, bold feel.

Russian Doll

She says, "I don't think it's a question of making a portrait of the objects or of telling a story. It's about shapes, colour, darkness and light and their relationship to each other.  I have become less concerned with tone while engaging far more with colour and shape. This
new approach involves far less heavy reworking. The paintings are lighter in touch and in tone and I sense that this changing concern has breathed new life into my work. There is a new immediacy and freedom in my work which I feel reflects pleasure in the process.”

Where You Go

She creates her beautiful paintings from her studio in Blanefield, near Glasgow.
The exhibition continues until 18 October.
Thanks for reading!


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Kevin Low - Digital Painter

Kevin Low was born in Forfar, Scotland. He grew up around the isolated cottages and hamlets of the unusual triangle marked out by the small sandstone towns of Brechin, Montrose and Forfar. This is something he says, ‘that’s left a not unwelcome scar on my psyche.’
The Thief
He studied photography at Edinburgh’s Napier University, before spending several years working as a theatre photographer, producing images for many companies including Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, Tramway and the Traverse Theatre.
Nature's Game
Kevin primarily uses the relatively new digital medium to ‘paint’ his narrative creations. It adapts traditional painting media and applies the pigment to traditional papers or canvas by means of computer software.

As a technique, it refers to a computer graphics software program that uses a virtual canvas and virtual painting box of brushes, colours and other supplies. The virtual box contains many instruments that do not exist outside the computer, and which give a digital artwork a different look and feel from an artwork that is made the traditional way. Kevin characteristically creates his work in editions of 7 or 10 and no more.


The Infantry Captain

The medium though is secondary to the layered worlds of character-laden detail and imagery. At first glance, everything seems picturesque. There are flowers, butterflies, birds that populate the blue skies. But look closer and all is not what it seems. These paintings are full of intense imagery often autobiographical in nature. Each painting is filled with a compelling narrative. This is storytelling at its most intriguing and mischievous.

Kevin’s work is gaining in recognition. He was the first artist to show digital work at The Glasgow Art Club. He won The Glasgow Art Club Prize at the SSA open show at the Gallery in Edinburgh in 2014 and The Art Exposure Prize at the RGI  in 2012.


We are delighted to be exhibiting Kevin's work alongside the oil painter Cathy Campbell.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Coming Next

We are in the middle of our TEN exhibition.  This exhibition, which continues until 9 August, is the beginning of the celebrations for our tenth year.  Our anniversary is in November, and we can't believe it's almost ten years already!

We are also excited about what's coming next.  Three very special artists are coming together for the first time.  Cate Inglis, Joyce Gunn Cairns and Henry Fraser are three very different painters, each as defined as the next.
Cate Inglis creates intricate and very beautiful urban scenes:

Joyce Gunn Cairns creates sensitive yet strong, evocative paintings featuring mainly figures and wildlife:
Henry Fraser is known for his emotive figurative paintings, imbued with dark humour:
This exciting three person exhibition opens on 16 August.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hanging The Exhibition

We are busy hanging our new exhibition 'To See the Summer Sky', a solo exhibition of paintings by Jenny Matthews.
Jenny is one of Scotland's foremost watercolour artists and we are adorning the gallery walls with twenty nine of her beautiful paintings.
Hanging a new exhibition is always such a pleasure as the gallery takes on a new life. 
Jenny is known mainly for her flower paintings, her love of the subject began on Scottish Highland holidays as a child. Since then it has been her passion to seek out flowers and plants wherever she goes.

This exhibition is already taking on the feel of this - the wonder at natural beauty and in particular the fleeting nature of flowers.

We have a quite a way to go before the preview on Sunday, but we are getting there.  It's going to be a stunning exhibition.  It previews this Sunday, 2-5pm with champagne and flowers!
All the paintings can be viewed now on

Thanks for reading!