Sunday 2 March 2014

The Smith Art Gallery & Museum, Stirling & JUNE CAREY

The Smith opened in 1874 as a bequest of a painter,Thomas Stuart Smith. This weekend a new mural by June Carey was inaugurated by Adrian Wiszniewski. Titled A Heavenly Gift, 2 angels carry the key of Stirling (given to Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746) & the Guildry Ring which dates from 1360, both in the museum's collection. They also have Carey's characteristic tattoos of poems and artefacts, with the male angel's chest inscribed "De tout les Reves qui Feurent." 

Dreams play an important role in Carey's work. Her superb book The Art of June Carey - Seeing Through Dreams" (available from the Museum) makes this very apparent. As Smith Museum director Dr Elspeth King, writes, "Carey's work is essentially about love - the love that moves the sun, and other stars, - as Dante described it. Like Dante's Divine Comedy, her work features Heaven, Hell & Purgatory. By far, Heaven is her favourite place, as the vibrant blue backgrounds which frame her serene, angelic figures, testify." 
Dedicated. Determined. Imaginative. Above all intense. I have been writing about Carey & her work for 25 years. She never disappoints. The book covers 40 years of work from a wonderful art school watercolour of a nude & 1981 self-portrait via many paintings, pastels, reliefs and etchings right up to today. Her travels to Greece, Mexico, Cyprus, Malta, Poland, Indonesia, Bali and India all feed her imagery, but as King writes, despite these "world-wide cultures, there is no mistaking the origin & source of it. She is a Scottish artist, living & working in Stirling. A journey thro June's work is a feast, laden & layered with cultural icons, signs, symbols & visual thought transmissions which have the power to move the viewer & alter perspectives."      
Wiszniewski, who gave a classic, totally captivating speech, rightly pointed out 
that Carey is a conceptual artist who makes her work beautiful, while at the 
same time telling age old stories. 
                                     Elspeth King, June Carey & Adrian Wiszniewski 
Carey's etchings are a tour de force of exacting detail and emotional intensity, her 
exotic figures imbued with her distinctive punk aesthetic.  Printmaking is fundamental
to her art. Etching allows for no mistakes, no second thought. Above all Carey works 
from the heart. It has made for a memorable career. Buy the book! £19.99
                                June in her studio with her etching press. 
Years ago I was a Smith Trustee. More recently the wonderful Janey Buchan, former Euro MP, 
who died in 2012, was a very active trustee, & the mural installation was completed with 
help from her Memorial Fund  
 Janey Buchan‎.  

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