The Scottish Gallery are welcoming a vibrant collection of renowned artists this July, showcasing Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s ‘A Life in Colour’, John Brown’s ‘My Garden’, Jake Harvey’s ‘Honed’, Kurt Jackson’s ‘The Burn – A Scottish Millstream’ and Alex Knubley’s ‘The Growing Season’. This grouping of works culminates in a dynamic showcase of the Scottish Summer which includes sculptural works in the Gallery’s garden.
Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s collection of works featured in the Summer Exhibition showcases an artistic journey of over 40 years. The works included in ‘A Life in Colour’ all share a close observation of the natural world, making use of summery shades of orange, yellow and brown redolent of sunshine and sand, and heat.
Barns-Graham took her success as an artist in St Ives to Balmungo House; a family home near St Andrews which triggered a new phase in her life from where she engaged with the Scottish art world. From this moment she divided her time between the two coastal communities, simultaneously establishing herself as much as a Scottish artist as a St Ives one.
In her works, Barns-Graham explores the dividing line between what she described as ‘inward perception’ and ‘outward observation’. Her series ‘Porthmeor’, named after the magnificent beach in St Ives over which Barns-Graham’s various studios have looked for 60 years, shows different times of day, with different weather and atmospheric and tidal conditions, reflecting decades of observation of this specific location. Attuned to both the subtle and dramatic changes and rich variety of conditions that could exist on the beach, Barns-Graham was selective to moments she, in different ways, wanted to capture.
John Brown will also be showcasing his rich and vibrant mixed-media paintings reflecting a garden’s cycle of growth and the promise of regeneration. His works detail the softer elements of nature and ‘My Garden’ demonstrates the fragility of living things. As an artist, Brown is inspired by the two dimensional geometry of a canvas juxtaposed with the organic shape of growth, and is particularly passionate about sweet peas.
John Brown stated, “They last only one season from seed to flower, often grown in a trellis or support on which they climb, forming a screen of pattern and colour. I love their structure and an endless supply of blooms”.
The seven large paintings in ‘My Garden’ address the challenge of marrying organic shapes with a flat abstract background, exploring the sculptural through two-dimensional aesthetics. The textural surfaces of the paintings are built up using layers of washes with the addition of collage in some cases. Brown’s use of colour is often reduced to a monochromatic palette, emphasizing the gentle growth of nature and highlighting the more vibrant sections of his works.
To complement Brown’s exploration of flat surfaces and 3D subjects, Jake Harvey will be presenting a new collection of sculptural works in ‘Honed’. Harvey is a sculptor whose elemental works, imbued with stillness, sense-stimulus and a sophisticated Zen-like simplicity compliment the other meditative paintings seen throughout the Summer Exhibition.
Working predominantly with earthly materials including cast iron, Harvey’s preferred medium is stone. He carves granite, basalt, marble and limestone, often placing or attaching the simple abstract forms directly on the wall or floor.
Harvey commented, “I have lived and worked from my studio in the rural landscape of the Scottish Borders all my life: a landscape, geologically configured in deep time, utilised, worked, and modified throughout human existence. Our reliance on earth’s stone is deeply embedded in my consciousness”.
Increasingly intrigued by the relationship of man to the earth, his sculptures frequently evolve from lived encounters with the landscape.
From the intimate setting of Brown’s garden and Harvey’s elemental roots, Kurt Jackson introduces his works inspired by residencies and explorations of plein-air in his collection, ‘The Burn – A Scottish Millstream’. Jackson has been exhibiting worldwide since the 1980s but has often returned to Scotland for inspiration. Jackson’s artistic practice ranges from his trademark visceral plein-air sessions to studio work and he embraces an extensive range of materials and techniques.
His love for wide and natural spaces has led to artist-in-residencies on the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, at the Eden Project, and for 20 years he has been artist-in-residence at Glastonbury Festival.
The works featured in The Scottish Gallery’s Summer Exhibition show the complexity, diversity and fragility of the natural world. ‘The Burn – A Scottish Millstream’ is inspired by Jackson’s journey along the Kintyre peninsula, down to its southern end near Campbeltown, where he stayed in an ancient water mill – still and silent yet in perfect working order. Here Jackson was influenced by the prehistoric rock carvings and roaring windfarm, documenting the dark coast with pencil and paintbrush, tracing every curve and meander, overhanging tree and washed rock.
The Summer Exhibition also marks Alex Knubley’s return to The Scottish Gallery with ‘The Growing Season’ in the Garden Gallery. Knubley works using a distinctive painting technique whereby she uses oil and beeswax, building up multiple layers of colour to create a rich, sculptural surface. Her paintings evoke the open landscapes familiar from holidays in the Outer and Inner Hebrides, architectural subjects, and the deep woodlands of the Scottish Borders and West Lothian.
Knubley’s process is a meditative one with the length of time spent working on a painting sometimes extended for months, allowing for complete drying time and a significant and enforced period of reflection. This intense relationship with her paintings makes for an immensely satisfying finish and, as a trained horticulturalist, Knubley grounds herself in the tending and shaping of The Scottish Gallery garden – an endeavor she has worked on since 2015.
Title – Summer Exhibition
Exhibition Dates – Thursday 30th June – Saturday 23rd July 2022
Location – The Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6HZ