Wednesday 19 July 2017


If u have ever done a potato cut u will love & understand CUT,  a celebration of WOOD CUT in all its glory, from fine engravings to big, bold hacking with a side detour to Asian style work.
by steven campbell
The show of around 30 artists (10 Chinese) fills GPS gallery + the foyer downstairs, where Janka Malkowska's memorable & inspiring Donkey resides. 
A pity she is not included upstairs - where she deserves to be, perhaps next to Eileen Cooper, whose barefoot girls dance with abandon. (What used to be called 'gay abandon' by previous generations!) 

For Janka had the right idea about woodcuts. Be bold, outrageous, ambitious - it's an expressive medium. Peter Howson's 3 mammoth Dosser series is one of the best. Strident, and aptly, on a heroic scale. 
Steven Cambell also did huge woodcuts, tho none are here. I remember one, on Japanese paper, used in their New York apartment as a curtain between the baby's cot and the living room table! All sticky fingered too! 35 years on, it may be in a museum!
Campbell is however represented by 4 good, if smaller, prints, all for sale too. 
ADRIAN WISZNIEWSKI presents an installation: a wall of B&W portraits plus an actual 3D sculptural head. Looks terrific.
IAN McCULLOCH  is another who has for many years employed big, bold eye-catching colour & imagery, (seen here beside Ellie LAMB's subtle Japanese style Girl with Durian Fruit. 
Another impressive series is by Turner prize winner Grayson Perry, 
- expensive but interesting. The colour is via lithography, with details printed from a very elaborate woodcut printed in black on top.
Yet woodcut can be subtle too, especially when created in the Japanese manner. Here PAUL Furneaux is an expert. 
After Edinbro and a stay in Paris, he spent 3 years on an MA in Japanese woodblock at university in Tokyo.
He still travels to Tokyo, exhibits there & had a residency on the edge of Mount Fuji, as did Ellie LAMB.  He has learnt & developed new techniques, but he says, is still learning old ones- like spending a whole day learning how to sharpen one tool!  
At GPS tools on display help visitors to understand the processes, both simple and complex.

In this Japanese method colour is applied with brushes, not rollers, & the blocks are printed by hand, in the traditional manner, resulting in soft, often flowing colour. His large piece, Pink Sea, Mokuhanga, is an impressive harmony of rectangles of subtle ribbed texture and colour.

Eli LAMB is another Scot who has studied in Japan. Here she shows 3 works utilising Japanese techniques. Seen here is Reindeer, Badger & Moose. It uses her own handmade kozo paper, dyed with its watermark made by herself in Japan. She printed on the surface using Japanese mokuhanga technique which employs waterbed paints... The result is dramatic. 

Elizabeth BLACKADDER & her husband John Houston also went to Japan several times, as this 1989 print of a Japanese raked pebble garden shows.
Extreme subtlety is an integral aspect of Japanese art. It can be carried a bit too far, as in exponent Rebecca Salter. Her Tabula series demonstrates the gray on gray of infinite, if boring, fine distinctions. 
Martin Boyce & Claire Barclay have recently made minimal woodcuts at GPS. 

The show also includes WOOD ENGRAVINGS, quite different from woodcuts, in their fine line, delicacy & detail. They employ a hard wood, usually boxwood, but unlike big bold woodcuts, are engraved with very fine lines - just like engraved silver.

Here Lennox Paterson is the master with his evocative images. One print from 1943 engraved during the Second World War, depicts a mesmerising war-torn soldier or ARP warden during a raid, energy fractures spinning violently off from his helmet & face. Just wonderful. 
Another, dating from the 1970s it a lovely Jay perched in among acorns. I bought this print at least 40 years ago and treasure it still.
IAN FLEMING made this stark image in the late 1920s. 
Current artists Murray ROBERTSON and Alistair GOW, both GPS staff, have explored wood cuts & engraving, among other media. Here is Gow on the left & Murray on the right with Murray's small engraving, from 1990. (also see below)

Selector, GPS director John Mackechnie has also included a section of 
CHINESE woodcuts
Chinese section of exhibition. 
love this - Zheng Shauang's Cat 
and also Professor Chen Qi's image for Beijing's Olympics made at GPS. U can also see his original blocks - most illuminating. 

Here u see me + selector John Mackechnie, with Richard Parry, the new Glasgow International director During my 1992 visit to Japan, courtesy of the Japan Foundation, I was lucky enough to be invited to the home of a prominent Japanese woodcut artist, whose work I include here. His home was tiny, as is normal in Kyoto, but every elegant, minimal, nook and cranny was filled with his various tools and creative implements ingeniously stored in little hatches, under the floor. He was kind, charming & it was a memorable visit. 

Sunday 9 July 2017

GONGOOZLER and other images, LESLEY BANKS, MARIE BARBOUR & Frances Corr at the LILLIE ART GALLERY, Milngavie, Glasgow

The 3 Scottish graces, Corr, Banks & Barbour, 3 exhibitions.  
by Marie Barbour


"I didn't expect this to turn out the way it has - but I loved every minute!"  LESLEY BANKS was standing beside her Clachnaharry Sunset oil talking about her 18 month Scottish CANAL painting extravaganza, where she covered every inch of the 137 mile network:  from Crinan's pretty & picturesque 9 miles to the impressive 60 mile long Caledonian Canal ending at Inverness.
She and her dog explored in mist and sun, summer or winter. Mostly the towpath was isolated and peaceful. 
Water, water everywhere - a delight to paint and capture its moods, from sunshine sparkle to dramatic icy stillness amid deep shadow and mirror reflections. Banks has long been intrigued by reflections, painting canals in Venice & Amsterdam. "Sky & landscape co-mingle to produce new abstractions," she says.  
 The results are truely impressive. A veritable tour de force. She has been able to capture the visual & romantic aspects of the canal waterways. To see this show is to experience a way of travel brought to a new reality.
"I discovered another world, of secret paths and friendly folk," she explains. "I found a sense of peace, contentment and safety. The solitary walks were not lonely. There was so much to see and the luxury of time to think and space for my imagination to wander."
Andy Scott's KELPIES have shone a spotlight on Scotland's Canals with particular emphasis on the Falkirk area and its now famous Wheel, the world's only rotating boat lift. Banks manages to make a superb image from this engineering feat with the distant hills serene under a clear sky. Banks will be as famous for her canals as Andy Scott is for his Kelpies - and - says my husband - Van Gogh for his sunflowers !! 
She has also tackled Scott's now iconic Horses in panoramic fashion: pictorially & artistically difficult, but an essential aspect of the Scottish canal world. 
Of course the Forth &Clyde Canal also comes right into Glasgow,  and Bank's painting of the Whisky Bond building is one of her most successful atmospheric images. 

In painting canals, Banks has had to conquer a rigid geometry, a firm perspective, because the majority of works take a central view of canal & tow path, as they converge towards a single 'vanishing point' on the horizon. That she has done so with such ease & control, is impressive. 
Corpach Cloud uses the pink pebble pavement, Telford's House deep blue water, Bellanoch Bridge a wet puddle prone path, Laggan Locks raised turf, & Ardishaig Sealock some glittery reflections, to lead us unconsciously, unwittingly, into her world. 
The cottages alongside, the fences & fields, trees & bushes, railings or reeds, all  
enhance this rigid perspective and turn it into a new dimension of reflected light. These clever compositions, together with glowing colour & extraordinarily good weather, combine to bless the Scottish canals. Clachnaharry Sunset is an especially memorable image & deserves to go into a public collection.   
There is an excellent catalogue full of info on each canal & Banks' reactions to them. The only thing missing is a canal MAP!  Please, someone from Scottish Canals, supply one asap.  
And GONGOOZLER?? gongoozler is a person who enjoys watching activity on the canals of the UK. The term is also used more generally to describe those who harbour an interest in canals and canal life, but do not actively participate.  The word comes from Lincolnshire dialectgawn and gooze, both meaning to stare or gape. 
And that's exactly what u should do at Lesley Banks' exhibition. Look hard and long, u will be rewarded with vistas of natural beauty, only to be found in Scotland.   

Barbour's interest is her garden & the flower paintings that result contain her love that all gardeners cherish & share. The star piece here is a beautiful oil of glorious dahlias alive in sunshine.
Small and more intimate studies of candytufts, poppies and bees+ 
nasturtiums, or terns flying high   

plus the occasional landscape of hidden places where "serenity is to be found in its solitude" 
or a compelling view at night over the roof tops, the sky luminous & clear, 
all these images make for a lovely show which focuses on nature at her best. 

FRANCES CORR's tiny paintings of sparse heath, dank fields and bogs are rather overshadowed by the plethora of lively canal pictures next door. Her focus is the minutiae of mud and lichen,  
"bogs and tussocks, funny round hillocks, damp patches and moss covered everything show some of the things that go on in the world of this particular ground. Life & death in a field."