Sunday, 21 August 2016


ADRIAN WISNIEWSKI exemplifies a new age Renaissance man in his ability to encompass painting, printmaking, writing, film, architecture & design. His next foray will be into ceramics - when the guy manages to bring him a wheel! 
Meanwhile he is exhibiting large, dramatic, bold & beautiful paintings at BY DISTINCTION ART on Byres Rd in Glasgow's West End. His niece Zoe also shows fashion items inspired by her uncle's pix. 
Some are brand new - some older - but make a vibrant show.
I have been following & writing about Adrian since 1982 just before he graduated from GSA. 
1984 London AIR Gallery, Fergus Muir curator, June Redfern painter, Clare Henry Herald critic, Adrian Wisniewski, age 27. 

It has meant moving about a bit - to London to see his first London show at the famous AIR Gallery in 1984, the Nicola Jacobs Gallery solo show in Cork St in 1985;
London 1984 
London, Nicola Jacobs Gallery, Cork Street,  Clare & Adrian 1985 

1986/7 to Liverpool to see his solo show and back again in 1996 when his huge commissioned painting The Good Samaritan installed at Liverpool Cathedral; to Edinbro's Haymarket Station for the public art poster/mural installation - where r they now ? 

To the Citz in 1995 to see the unveiling of his group portraits of their world famous key players for the SNPG; to Belgium to see his shows; to GoMA to see him paint the GoMA cafe mural; to Hamilton to the making and fabrication of the Millennium Tower; to Oram Mor to hear his Xmas play; to Ayr/Alloway to see his Robbie Burns tribute show etc etc .. 
And all the time visiting his studio. Because AW - one of 8 children - and his wife Diane (also a GSA graduate) are always so helpful.   

At all points Adrian was prepared - indeed embraced - new materials like neon & tapestry, new media like TV, film, theatre, murals, books; new ideas, new projects - versatility personified. 

I have a mass of photos of Adrian over the years which are now in my Clare Henry PHOTOGRAPHIC ARCHIVE which in time will be housed at the Glasgow Womens Library. This covers artists, exhibitions, galleries, museums, studio visits, art fairs, public art, biennales, the art world in general in the UK and abroad from 1978 to today. 

London Nicola Jacobs Gallery Cork Street, solo show 1985

In the early days not everyone had a camera, and if they did, rarely carried it - (cameras were heavy & bulky) and rarely used it, (film was expensive, often jammed and sometimes didn't work.) The big question of the day on photos was "Did they come out?" !!!

My father was a professional photographer so I made an effort. Hence my Clare Henry PHOTOGRAPHIC ARCHIVE  which will work in tandem with my written archive at GSA & GWL. 

Above are a few Adrian examples - & there are plenty more to come! Keep looking at my Blog - u may find your young self.  

 WHAT a joy to see ALEXANDRA GARDNER's latest show at the new-to-me splendid LEIPER FINE ART, W George St, Glasgow. She goes from strength to strength, with a relaxed assurance evident in my favourite, Frills, which someone should buy fast, as it won't stick around! 
Here her characteristic elegant red haired model poses amid a wash of ball-gown, shadow & high-lights perfect as ever. 
Her portraits are so sympathetic to her sitters, male & female. 

Gardner is well known to many from her 20 yr stint at GSA till 1988 since when she has exhibited widely, especially at Duncan Miller in London & Scottish Gallery Edinbro. 
I well remember her Italian scenes of churches & interiors. Here Vilnius replaces San Gimignano; Bobolovskys various Venetian haunts, all glorious reflections & intimate corners.  
The point is that Gardner is a great draughtsman & handles oil paint with total professional ease. 25 pictures on show & seen on request - along with a group show 27th August – 18th September

Downstairs a great show for Year of Architecture on William Leiper himself, the architect of this 1889 Sun Life building, the Victorian space now beautifully restored by Gallery owner Ewan Kennedy. The building won Silver Prize at the 1900 Paris International Exh!

                     Gallery owner Ewan Kennedy 

Adam Kennedy's beautiful and atmospheric paintings of Glasgow Leiper buildings as they are today.
Leiper's Sun Life Building 

 Cottiers Glasgow by Adam Kennedy

My fav - Frills !! by Sandy Gardner.

Friday, 5 August 2016

JOHN TAYLOR, Glasgow Print Studio

JOHN TAYLOR has lots to look back on including his crucial part in establishing Glasgow's first commercial space, the Charing Cross Gallery (together with Cyril Gerber, Bet Low & Tom McDonald) back in 1963 which led onto the pivotal and influential Compass Gallery founded by Cyril in 1969.
He also played a key role in establishing Glasgow Print Studio in 1972, &  afterwards as a studio technician for many years. 
However at 80, as his GLASGOW PRINT STUDIO celebrates, he is as busy as ever, this time painting - not abstracts - but superb watercolours of urban Glasgow and its surroundings. It's a surprise & a welcome one. 

Taylor is well know for his amazing handling of watercolour. Tricky as a medium, he can float oceans of limpid, liquid colour across a sheet or page in what appear to be an effortless gesture. No-one in Scotland can surpass him in this.
What he does with this ability varies. This time he has turned his eye to places he knows well, as his exhibitions title tells us, Glasgow & Sometimes Further Afield.

Painted over the last decade, he has captured a city in flux, buildings coming & going, but always seen in interesting light.
Taylor's views of Govan Yard, Maryhill, the Canal, Ruchill Doocots, Cycle Paths, etc are never sentimental but do have the advantage of good light: a gentle sunset or morning mist, pale snowy day or cool winter sun to provide perfect reflections. 
The result is a great testament to Glasgow past & present, with all its unlovely pylons, broken fences, high-rises, cranes & rusty corners captured with piercing clarity. 
A special image is the Doocot, puzzling to my American husband but a favourite with Glaswegians! 
Taylor has also made a screenprint of it (300 quid & cheap) along with a couple of other images. 

But the vast majority of the show is of beautiful
big watercolours - 35 in total, prices 1200 to £2500. 
The most memorable are of simple reductive rectangular buildings often coupled with a canal or river reflection. I admired his Morning Reflection for its minimalism, but also TWB 2  (The Whisky Bond) with its turquoise atmospherics. 
Altogether a great show from a stalwart professional. Happy B-day to Johnny!
 Photos by Clare Henry, except for B&W by Fiona Watson. 

Monday, 1 August 2016


BARBARA RAE CBE, RA, began travelling in 1968 when she won a Scottish Arts Council award. She has not stopped since - as titles - 'Arizona', 'Spanish Terraces', Downpatrick,' 'Zafra Spain', 'South Africa.' Quinag', from her EDINBURGH FESTIVAL show at the OPEN EYE Gallery demonstrate. 
Ireland & Spain were early favourite inspirational places, their wild landscapes & vast skies providing direct, tangible scenes & structures as a sound foundation from which to leap.
And leap she did. In the mid 1980s she discovered Sante Fe & its surrounding arid landscape, resulting in the high key brilliant reds, hot yellows & burning oranges of pictures like 'Desert Figure' 1996.
Since then she has travelled far & wide, researching, sketching, experimenting, developing, painting non stop in a working life that has accomplished much. Her pictures & prints have been exhibited in London, Chicago, New York, Washington, Dublin, Gibraltar, Oslo, Hong Kong & Mexico City. 
Moreover for the last 20 years she has been a Royal Academician, exhibiting there & working as a very active Member of Council.

All this & more from her Edinburgh base..............

This exhibition covers a period of 55 years - from 1961 to today. Incredible. 
Early pictures: (Night Filling Station, Brewery Holyrood or Basques Among Trees,) are in her early dark, brooding tones but already contain her characteristic fluid gestural brushstrokes. 
The most recent works date from 2015 but in between she has created prints, collages, monotypes, paintings - nowadays always acrylic - and many incorporating mixed media with fragile layered papers & tissue to provide a perfect surface & texture.  
I first wrote about Barbara Rae in 1981. By 1983 she was stirring things up as President of the Society of Scottish Artists, (SSA). 

Once RAE was frequently spending time in North America & Mexico her work heated up, her myriad rich colours vibrant, joyful, succulent, hedonistic. Her studio paints tell the story.    
A new departure is ceramics - dishes, vases, - a small surface compared to her vast canvases but equally full of captive atmosphere to see & enjoy. 
Her next foray is quite different. Next week she leaves for her 2nd trip to the Arctic. 

Already RAE has created profound, memorable monotype images of icy cold frozen seas, stately polar bears, & fish who swim far from Scotland! A keen distillation of the Arctic's very essence.
It's all a far cry from heat-waves & desert sand.

As Rae says, "I'm following in the footsteps of my namesake, John Rae, an Orcadian doctor who found the final part of the Northwest Passage & explored the Arctic coast in 1849." 

He was noted for stamina, skill, ability .... as is she!  
But above all it's good to remember Rae's basic mantra, “My work is a painting, not a representation of a landscape or a boat. It is marks on a canvas & colour.”

The OPEN EYE exhibition runs till 31st August, Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE.