Wild Scottish landscapes will adorn the walls of The Scottish Gallery this April when Helen Glassford’s exhibition ‘Encounters’ opens to the public. Her paintings mould together the sensory and visual world with the fleeting, intangible moments which find their place in her work. These encounters with her environment are manifested through a variety of mediums, including graphite and scumbled glazes, to react and capture the immensity of nature before her and lend their name to the exhibition.

Growing up on the outskirts of the Lake District, Glassford studied painting at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee in the late 1990s, and later completed a Master of Fine Art there. Since then, she has lived with her daughter in Newport on Tay, North Fife, overlooking the River Tay. Glassford finds her subject in the wild landscape of Scotland, in particular the remote edge lands of the North and West, with ‘Encounters’ focusing on the Western Isles.

Inspired by the American Expressionists and David Young Cameron for realities on form, she finds comfort in the sea and land rhythms of Joan Eardley and Frances Walker. Glassford seeks to reflect ideas of transience in her landscapes, with a focus on timeless imagery and nameless places. Graphite lines flowing fast or stuttering with interludes and pauses of calm and space act as metaphorical suggestions to transitional spaces, as explored by artist and one of Glassford’s inspirations John Cage.

This collection captures that moment of meeting with nature, as each encounter touches Glassford’s depths of mood, memory and physicality. Glassford celebrates the remote wildness as she connects with nature, communicating with the mountains and the skies that surround her in this special relationship. She relishes the solo experience of walking through nature, recording brief observations that might otherwise dissipate over time, enticing her to paint it over and over again.

Glassford’s practice draws connections between the remote locations of Scotland, places so powerful that they evoke romantic Victorian visions of the natural sublime; the distinctly Northern mentality of belonging and hope as she perceives the psychology of personal consciousness; and the form of her painting, exploring edges and borders to blur this boundary between danger and safety.

Helen Glassford took part in the Realist & Lyrical Landscapes exhibition in September 2020 at The Scottish Gallery, and now returns with her first solo exhibition at the Gallery this April.

Glassford commented, “It has long since been a dream of mine to exhibit my paintings at The Scottish Gallery and I am thrilled to have been able to dedicate my time over the last nine months to such a large body of work for my first solo show with them. It has allowed me the freedom to discover new ideas and push the boundaries of the language of landscape painting whilst exploring the wonderfully varied personality of the Scottish landscape. These oil paintings are a distillation of the essence of each place visited: rugged shoreline and remote peninsula.

“The wilder, intense and shifting places which are rich with energy and atmosphere. ‘Encounters’ is a celebration of those experiences, trusting that with both time and memory and the accrual of painterly decision-making they become thick with feeling. I’m very excited to share this work as a whole and for visitors to share in these experiences and to encounter these moments for themselves”.

Also opening at the gallery is an new exhibition from Colin Brown. Brown is a mixed media artist and painter based in the North East of Scotland. His new exhibition, ‘Primavera’, pays homage to the 18th century Belgian flower painter Pierre-Joseph Redouté. Taking a Redouté image as the starting point Brown alters, paints over and adds collage elements to produce a contemporary response to Redouté’s work.

He said, “For me the essence of these new works is the setting up of a direct conversation with an artist from a different age. A single Redouté flower is the basis of each composition. I then introduce a range of modern day elements including repeated circular forms, fragments of text, dot patterns and paint splashes. Traces of humankind float through these images of nature”.