Friday, September 30, 2011

Points of View

Perspective.  It's everything really.  What angle you are looking at something from, what surrounds it, and how closely you are pressing your nose up against it.  A person, or a situation or a painting can look very different depending on this.

People often remark in the gallery how refreshing it is to have distance with which to view the works.  It's quite a big uninterrupted space, so people have the freedom to look at the paintings closely, and then reappraise them from a distance.  Most rooms aren't this big and so the painting would never be viewed this way at home, but people like to enjoy the different perspectives before making their decision. 

I have noticed when a person begins to do this, to look at one particular painting in different ways, that's when they are falling for it.  It's love, but it's not blind, they want to see it as it really is before spending a lifetime together.  Very wise!

Sandy Murphy often cleverly plays with perspective.  These beautiful still lifes are all about colour, tone and texture, but the subtle altering of the way things really are is what makes them stimulating and surprising, and so much more than representational.

Visitors to this exhibition have been spending a lot more time in the gallery than usual.  Looking closely at each painting, then from afar.  The fascination with what makes them special has been a joy to watch. 

As we all know, nothing lasts forever and the exhibition ends on 16th October.  And I'm going to enjoy it from all angles up until then!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

So What's Next?

I'm getting a little excited again.  Yes I know this seems to be happening quite a lot, but that's because I'm surrounded by exciting artists creating beautiful and bold work.  I'm too lucky, and I appreciate it every day!

The Sandy Murphy RSW RGI PAI continues to wow me, and all who visit.  We are up to sixteen paintings sold so far, which is a wonderful total with almost three weeks to go.

So where do we go from here . . . . well, it has to very different, and it has to be bold . . .  so it has to be Margaretann Bennett RSW!

Having won numerous prestigious awards and the distinction of RSW, Margaretann has become one of Scottish art's more interesting leading lights.  A true artist, she lets her work develop, pushing the boundaries as she goes.  The paintings deal with remembrance, loss and the nature of human existence.  This results in intriguing work that can sometimes cause discomfort, is usually loved, but never ignored.  

A Margaretann Bennett painting grabs the viewer's imagination whether they like it or not, and this is what I love about them.  Like Sandy's work though, they need to be viewed in person to be fully appreciated.  The bold image is created through intricate, delicate layering.

Although her work deals with some serious subjects, there is a lot of humour as well.  Meet . . . . 'Skank Puss'!

I have a feeling he's going to be very popular!

The exhibition opens on October 23rd.  Contact the gallery if you would like be present at the Private View.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Lucky Lucky Dip

You may have noticed it's dark and rainy today.  I see this as an excuse to wear soft jumpers and drink more tea than usual.  But look what just arrived in the gallery to brighten my day!!

I love this, a box full of little polystyrene shapes.  I never look at the delivery list first, I will dip my hand into the depths of the spongy whiteness and pull out one beautiful ceramic after another until I'm sure I've gotten them all.  It's important to delve both arms up to the elbows and swoosh them around at the end, just to be sure.  I love this, it reminds me of the first time you do a lucky dip when you're a tot.  There's nothing quite as exciting.  Although I realise this may just be me . . . .

So look, beautiful new ceramics by Devonshire artist Pauline Zelinski!

This work has been incredibly popular in the gallery recently, hence another new delivery fresh from the kiln. 

I think we are all needing a little colour in our lives, and these hand-painted little beauties do the job!

Happy, affordable, beautiful, functional, what more can you ask for!  I'm deciding which one is coming home with me . . .

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Flower Girl

Being of a romantic nature, I love flowers, particularly roses.  I also love orchids and wild flowers if anyone is interested . . .

I always have flowers at the opening of an exhibition, but when I am feeling particularly happy, I will have flowers in the gallery always.  I like the flowers to compliment or contrast with the paintings that surround them.  But when I spotted the gentle beauty of these roses on the way to work today, I had to have them for the gallery, and in particular, for this exhibition.

It occurred to me as I arranged them, that I was already surrounded by flowers.  Sandy Murphy often paints flowers, but as he once explained to me, he is using them to 'hang the paint on'.  

In a way, the painting is not about the flowers, the flowers are about the paint.  And this is how I see these paintings.  Paint, texture, colour, time, beauty.

Subject matter is almost not relevant with Sandy's work, which is an extraordinary thing to say.  Usually what a painting appears to be depicting is what the artist finds important.  Well, Sandy is different.  These aren't paintings of flowers, they are an expression of something else.


And they have to be seen in person to be fully appreciated, to be seen as more than just flowers. 

Although, as I said, I do love flowers.  So thank goodness I have my real ones, but I am also lucky enough to be surrounded by so much more.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, September 16, 2011

Seal of Approval

The highly esteemed artist David Martin RSW RGI visited the Sandy Murphy exhibition today.  At almost 90 years old he has been one of Scottish painting's leading lights for a long time.  It was fascinating to discuss the paintings with him.  Having been to Glasgow School of Art in the 1940s, over the last 70 years he has seen it all.

It turns out that he's almost as big a Sandy Murphy fan as I am, which is praise indeed.  I could see he was tempted, but it turns out he already has two of Sandy's paintings.  No excuse I say!  I'm taking my time throughout this exhibition to pick my third.  That's the sort of painter Sandy is, one isn't really enough because each painting gives so much, and each time it's something different.

What has been so special about this exhibition is the amount of artists who have come to visit.  They all say that they feel filled up and want to immediately run back to their studios.  I find this a joy.  The gallery for me is all about the artists and about inspiration.  To be able to inspire viewers to see beauty is a dream come true, but then to be able to inspire artists to create more work is something else.  Of course this is down to Sandy's work, but I am so glad to have been able to put this exhibition together with him.  It has been amazing and still four weeks to go . . . . .

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Seasonal Affective Desire

Well it has been a little blowy at the gallery over the last couple of days!  Hurricane Katia has been to visit, not giving a full hug like she did elsewhere, more like just blowing a kiss, so we've been lucky.  But it's all starting to look a little bit like Autumn and I think I need to accept that longingly waiting for Summer to make an appearance is over for another year. 

Although for me, it's much more about colour than warmth.  There is nothing more beautiful than a baby blue sky framing a riot of autumn shades.  Driving through the countryside towards the Campies is a joy every day, but in Autumn, it's breath-taking.  Okay, I'm just trying to see the positives about the seasons changing!  But I do like to wear soft woollens and it means
I can light the Smithy fire more often, so there, three positives! 

Despite the weather, there have been many people through the door to visit the Sandy Murphy RSW RGI PAI exhibition.  It seems to have been loved by everyone. From Sandy Murphy collectors, to admiring artists, to people who have never seen his work before, the response has been one of appreciation and admiration for such a beautiful collection of paintings. Otherwise they would have been ejected from the gallery - just kidding!  Well, it hasn't been necessary so far!

Colour and tone is what I think Sandy's work is all about, and far from being a riot, the exhibition creates a soft symphony of shades.  I've heard oohs and ahhs from people, they've stayed a little longer than usual and there has been a general feeling of warmth.

So thank you Sandy, I think it's exactly what we all need right now.

The exhibition continues until 16th October.  So plenty of time for people to enjoy it, including me.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, September 09, 2011


I went to the dentist this morning before coming to the gallery.  This dentist is the Carlsberg of dentists.  I always seem to be the only one there.  The experience can be like a strange dream, a little David Lynchian at times, but it's all good. You settle yourself in the big chair to the elegant strains of classical music.  There are candles (not just candles) and the dentist gives you encouraging, soothing compliments the whole way along.  I got a 'well done' when I rinsed.  And I believed it! 

But it was a whole forty five minutes when I wasn't able to talk about the Sandy Murphy exhibition.  This is unheard of to anyone who knows me right now.  And he was asking me as well.  I lay helpless, making small sounds.

As the paintings swam in front of my eyes, I forgot about the sharp implement exploring my mouth.  I listened to the beautiful music, and thought about how the success of the exhibition opening on Sunday has taken days to sink in.  Such an amazing reaction, such positivity at a time when we are told that all is negative.  Well all is not negative, people were glowing, excited, happy and they were buying.  

And it has continued all week.  This exhibition is six weeks long, longer than usual, because I want it to have as many visitors as possible.  The magic of the collection is hard to explain.  I can't put my finger on it.  It just has a radiating beauty about it. 

I'm sure the dentist is an art-lover, and I began to wonder if he can read thoughts. . . . 

Ooh rinse . . . well done me! 

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Show Time . . . .

After months of groundwork, weeks of preparation, and the hours and hours of hanging, when I have finally prepared every detail for the opening of an exhibition at 1pm on the Sunday, something a little unpleasant happens.

I have done everything I can to hang the exhibition as best I can. The paintings are hopefully balanced with the space as a whole, and each other - the most important part.  Then there are all the other details. Every flower looks beautiful and the chocolates look inviting.  The fire is lit, I've poured the champagne and its sparkling in its glasses, and the sparkling water sits there wishing it was champagne.  But when it's all done, and I stand for those few minutes waiting . . .

. . . .  it feels like being suspended.  It's like being in a vacuum, but is it going to be filled? 

My mind races.  This is the only bit I don't like about what I do.  I have done a million things to prepare the exhibition, but I never actually know how many people are going to come.  It's Sunday, things happen on a Sunday like 10Ks, and family parties and shopping trips and Wimbledon finals and . . . . .

But this Sunday, the doors open again and again and again, then Sandy Murphy arrives and the people just keep coming.  The champagne runs out (this has never happened before), the chocolates were scoffed (I didn't get one) and the sales just keep coming. 

This was the best opening the gallery has had, and we've had a few good ones.  It's all about atmosphere and it's the people that create that.  Sandy created the most beautiful paintings, I did my bit, and then the vacuum was filled with Sandy Murphy fans, enthusiastic art-lovers, gallery-goers, and people passing by doing their usual Sunday routine, but wanting to know why there were cars lined up all over Blanefield and why people were spilling out of Smithy Gallery.

Thanks to Sandy and the hundreds of people who made it a day to remember!


PS I was too busy to take photos when it was really mobbed!  :)

Friday, September 02, 2011

The Alchemist

I have just finished hanging the Sandy Murphy exhibition which opens this Sunday.  This is my forty-fourth exhibition.  There are forty-four paintings . . . and now this is strange . . . I've been finding it hard to leave at the end of the day.  I've been loitering in my own gallery, looking at each painting and then the exhibition as a whole, because it feels so peaceful.

This exhibition continues for six weeks, so please excuse me because I know I will repeat myself.  Each exhibition transforms this space, it feels new every time.  The gallery already has quite a resonance.  It's over two hundred years old, with each stone that makes the building still and strong being visible to the eye.  When the paintings are added, in hopefully the right balance of light and dark and beauty and strength, something can happen to the space as a whole.  And this is the most I have felt it.

It feels very peaceful and uplifting.  Sandy Murphy's work has been described in many ways, but for me it is about the rare ability to capture and express the intangible tones in nature.  He manages to mix pigment on a palette, and then paint onto flat canvases, the tones and shades that are all around us, between the lines and surfaces of the natural world.  Alchemy - he turns paint into a beauty that is usually fleeting.  I don't even thinks he's aware of it, it comes naturally to him.

And when I observe one of his paintings, I feel like I have been unexpectedly surrounded by one of those fleeting moments in nature when a scene you might see everyday is suddenly beautiful and uplifting.  And this is because the light and tone has created a beauty which opens up your eyes.  A fleeting moment of which you are part of.

I am really looking forward to seeing the reactions this Sunday to such a beautiful collection of paintings.  Perhaps it's just how I feel, but I don't think so. 

Thanks for reading!