Sunday, 4 February 2018

GLASGOW GROUP at 60; AGES of WONDER from the RSA, The Maclaurin Gallery, AYR

The Glasgow Group is arguably the oldest artists co-operative going. Now celebrating its 60th B-day, it was established in 1958 by 3 GSA students, Jim Spence, Anda Paterson & James Morrison, who invited 10 others to join them. 

Anda Paterson is exhibiting here with her signature Mediterranean peasants. Sadly the beloved Jim Spence, who worked 33 years as GG president, died last year & is much missed. 

The GG has held  annual shows, & frequently more often, all over Scotland, England, Wales, Norway & Spain, and for over 30 years filled the then splendid McLellan Gallery with their work.  

The GG were also invited to provide the huge, exciting inaugural opening show for Tramway back in 1989, (see my Herald review with a pix of Jim Spence) when Douglas Gordon and Rosemary Beaton were invited as 2 young folk, and George Wyllie installed his entire life sized Paper Boat !!

Members have included Bet Low, Philip Reeves, Dawson Murray, Jack Knox, Willie Rodger and many more.

Today the painter Shona Dougall chairs the group which is exhibiting about 100 works in 2 galleries at the Maclaurin Art Gallery in Ayr to celebrate its 60th anniversary
Artist members now include sculptor Tom Allan, painters Claire Paterson and Susan Kennedy and printmaker Damian Henry. 

"When the Glasgow Group first met in 1957 Scottish art was in a bad way," remembers Alasdair Gray of New Lanark fame. He was there so he should know! Back then the GG had an average age of 22. It went on to become a cutting-edge affair, with folk like Sandy Moffat, John Bellany, Richard Demarco et al included. Long before Transmission and current societies, GG has always been a true cooperative. 

To keep anything running for 60 years takes time & effort. Current chairman Shona Dougall does a great job, organising - while also painting. I enjoyed her colourful sunlit Still Lifes.   

I have been writing about the Glasgow Group for 39 years! I was asked to open their 1989 Tramway inauguration and so was happy to do the same for their 60th b-day exhibition at the Maclaurin GalleryAyr 
where the work looks very good filling 2 long galleries with vivid, colourful paintings, photographs & prints. 
It's an enjoyable array with CLAIRE PATERSON's figure paintings a standout contribution. Great to see her good drawings here.
There is today so much plastic & cardboard installation, sound & 'immersive' - how I hate that word! - stuff, you all know what I mean, that it is a relief to see some fine draughtsmanship & skilled painting. She too studied at GSA as did most others. 

Sculptor Tom Allan has at last space here to make an impact. 
There is an impressive stormy seascape from Gregor Smith 
and wooded landscapes by Susan Kennedy 
     Prints by Damian Henry include his signature animals 
& Claire Paterson's oils complete the picture. 
Across the courtyard the RSA's loan exhibition AGES OF WONDER contains some STUNNING prints 
from Will McLean, 
Ian Hamilton Finlay, 

Stuart Duffin,
Elspeth Lamb, 
Beth Fisher - 
and Philip Reeves, who was a GG member for many years!! 
Master printmaker IAN MCNICOL who lives in Ayr, will be doing print demonstrations & workshops at the Maclaurin. So make sure to go! 

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