Saturday 4 November saw the opening of the inaugural Scottish Landscape Awards (SLAs) at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre.
And I was delighted to be able to attend the highly anticipated private view of this prestigious new exhibition the evening before, having had my etching of Dunnottar Castle shortlisted for the SLAs back in July.
It was one of only 133 artworks to be shortlisted from almost 3000 entries and, although it didn’t win a prize, I was extremely proud to see it hanging in a fantastic spot in one of the country’s best and most visited public galleries.
It was a wonderful evening of catching up with some old friends in my former Edinburgh stomping ground, as well as meeting a few of my own favourite artists for the first time. It also allowed me to see what’s happening right now at the sharp end of Scottish landscape painting and printmaking.
The variety of work on show at the Scottish Landscape Awards – not to mention the talent and skill employed to create it – ensure that this is a hugely enjoyable exhibition for artists and art lovers alike, showcasing the country’s huge diversity in subject matter and the many different and intriguing techniques used to create the pieces.
And, of course, its always great to see your work shown alongside your peers and some of this country’s most successful and admired artists.
My image of Dunnottar Castle came about as part of a commission I was awarded by Aberdeen Art Galleries & Museums in January 2023. Click here to learn more about and the various printmaking methods I used in its creation. I am also very proud to have an artist’s proof of this print, along with the 3 others I produced for that commission, in Aberdeen Art Galleries & Museums’ permanent art collection.
This has been a particularly busy and hugely rewarding year for me so far: with two successful solo shows under my belt at Frames Gallery in Perth and Inverness Creative Academy; the aforementioned commission from Aberdeen Art Galleries & Museums; and another for luxury Edinburgh-based leather goods brand Strathberry Ltd (of which there will be more to report soon).
And having my work included in the inaugural Scottish Landscape Awards exhibition, as well as featured in the gorgeous catalogue that accompanies the show, means that this has also been my most successful year to date.
But it doesn’t end there for 2023, or for this particular print! I am happy to say that Dunnottar Castle is also featured in the Meffan Art Gallery annual winter show, which opened in Forfar on Friday 10 November.
As for the rest of the year, I will be working hard to produce new paintings and prints for my next solo show, which is at Graystone Gallery in Edinburgh in February. Details to follow, but I am excited to be the first artist to have a solo show at their brand-new gallery premises in Stockbridge.
Dunnottar Castle, in a limited edition of only 40 signed and numbered prints, is currently available to purchase (in a frame) at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh and the Meffan Institute, Forfar. Unframed prints can also be bought directly from my shop by clicking here.
Just a quick update to say I have 4 etchings for sale as part of the annual St Columba’s Hospice charity fundraising event, which opens to the public this Saturday 28th October at 10am.
I’ve been taking part in this fantastic event every year for almost a decade and it’s always a great show. This year promises to be bigger and better than ever with paintings and prints by over 70 artists, alongside a selection of sculptures, ceramics and tapestries.
Buying art, helping others
At least 50% of every penny spent on art over this weekend goes directly to the charity, so it’s a great way to buy something you’ll love and cherish forever while helping the hospice continue to do its incredible work.
This year I have contributed the 4 pieces you can see here. But you’ve only got 2 days to see the show in person and snap them up (although the works can be viewed and purchased online between 10am Saturday 28th October and Friday 3rd November). Click here for the direct link to the online exhibition!
So if you’re in Edinburgh or fancy a day out then get along to the stunning St Columba’s Hospice building this coming Saturday or Sunday between 10-4pm and treat yourself to something beautiful … you know you deserve it! It’s worth the trip for the incredible views across the Firth of Forth alone!
Here’s where to find the art show. It’s free to enter and on-street parking is available:
I was initially told about the Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums (AAGM) Micro-commissions by a studio colleague the day before the deadline. I was in the middle of moving into my new studio and packing for a New Year trip to Crovie the following day. However, as a relative newcomer to Aberdeen and having spent many hours admiring the gallery’s fantastic collection, my interest had been piqued! I downloaded the application form and had a first draft written within an hour.
Applicants were asked to say something about their lived experience in the city, addressing themes that might include social justice, climate change, identity, well-being and migration, while responding to something that was already part of the AAGM collection.
I thought it could be a challenge to come up with an exciting print-based project that would test some of my recently acquired printmaking skills, especially in screen and photopolymer printing. And, in the unlikely event my proposal was successful, I might just about manage to complete the rather ambitious project I had put together in my mind, despite having already committed to 2 solo shows and another important commission – all of which were to be fulfilled before the AAGM June deadline!
No holiday for me … not yet anyway!
So the first day of our supposedly relaxing holiday was spent editing my application (with considerable help from my patient and very understanding partner Pam) and it was submitted within an hour of the deadline.
Having never applied for anything like this before, I resignedly put the whole experience down to good practice and relaxed for the rest of our trip.
Around 4 weeks later, having forgotten all about my application and while frantically finishing several paintings and working on the final preparations for my early March solo show, I received an email to say my proposal had in fact been successful!
My initial elation and surprise at this great news were suddenly followed by a gut-wrenching dread that I might just have overstretched myself! But I do love a challenge and that’s exactly what the following 5 months proved to be!
In selecting a work from the AAGM collection as an initial reference for my own project, John Piper’s powerfully atmospheric painting of Dunnottar Castle immediately sprang to mind. Like many of his works, it perfectly captures with great drama and deceptive simplicity the beauty that can often be found even in a crumbling old building. This got me thinking about how the disintegration of one thing can lead to something new and possibly even more beautiful in its place (a painting in this instance, but also the castle itself).
From here I travelled north in my mind to Aberdeen city centre and thought of the recently opened Union Terrace Gardens and how they have helped to rejuvenate that part of the city.
I then took a short trip across Union Street to the recently demolished Aberdeen Market and pondered how that has provided an opportunity (and also hope) that something better might arise out of the dust and rubble.
I decided to produce a triptych of handmade prints exploring the theme of disintegration in relation to those three well-loved local sites. To bring these ideas to fruition I wanted to use three different printmaking techniques, which would reflect the past, present and future in their own way.
Three Different subjects printed three different ways
Disintegration, the first piece in the triptych, is a traditional copper-plate etching inspired by John Piper’s painting of Dunnottar Castle.
The middle piece, Transformation, depicts Union Terrace Gardens and contrasts old and new features now present in the gardens and also in the methods used to create the print.
It combines very traditional etching techniques like chine collé above to add colour to the print …
… alongside methods employed in contemporary digital photography.
Anticipation focuses on the Aberdeen Market area and poses the question: what does the future hold for this site?
Photoshop was used to combine a drone-captured digital image with an interpretation of the Herakut mural from the old Aberdeen Market.
The Micro Commission Experience
Working on the AAGM Micro-commission has been a fantastic experience as well as a great opportunity to learn. Not only because it has allowed me to develop and test my skills in traditional and photopolymer etching, as well as screen printing, but the funding that was provided by the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums has also enabled me to produce an entirely new stand-alone series of prints that are quite different from anything I have done before. It is also wonderful to know that my triptych has been accessioned into the AAGM permanent collection.
I would advise anyone who is interested in applying to the next round of Micro-commissions to absolutely go for it. This has been a hugely rewarding experience and has shown me what I can achieve under intense pressure.
And finally …
Finally, I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums for providing the £2500 funding that enabled my Micro Commission, and many thanks also to Shona Elliot and all the staff at AAGM for their excellent support throughout. I’d also like to thank the staff at Peacock Print Studio and, in particular, James Vaas and Struan Hamilton who have both been very generous with their time, patience and expertise throughout this process.
I will put together another post soon where I will go into more detail about the making of each print in the triptych … watch this space!
This is the final week of my solo show Paintings & Prints From Scotland To The Moon at Inverness Creative Academy.
I’ll be on site from 2-3.30pm this Friday 14th July to give visitors a guided walk around the 40 pictures. I’ll discuss the many techniques I use to create the works as well as the inspirations and ideas behind them. I’ll also be more than happy to answer any questions about my practice and experience of working as a full-time artist.
It’s free entry so just show up at the cafe at 2pm and say hello. I’ll look forward to meeting you then!
Paintings & Prints From Scotland To The Moon is on until Saturday 15th July at 4pm.
After almost a year of hard work and preparations, last Friday night saw the opening of my solo show at Frames Gallery in Perth. And what a fantastic night it turned out to be, with almost a quarter of the pictures sold within 2 hours!
But I have to admit that I am always a little anxious when it comes to opening nights, and especially when it’s just my work that’s on show.
There’s a lot of pressure to get everything finished, framed and on the walls on time and I feel that heavily on my shoulders for weeks in advance.
And there’s quite a lot of variety in my work too, so I’m also always wondering how all of those pictures will look when they’re hanging together in one room.
Of course, I’m also hoping there’s going to be a good turnout for the opening, as a great atmosphere always helps to get any show off to the best start.
But in spite of my growing nerves as 6pm approached on the big day, I should really have known that I needn’t have worried! Hugh and his team at the gallery had done a brilliant job of hanging the show and I couldn’t have been happier with how all 45 pictures were presented!
And to add to my great feeling of relief and excitement I was delighted to see that there were already some red dots accompanying pictures before the doors officially opened!
It’s always lovely to chat to the people who have been to my previous shows and have bought my work in the past, and I love to meet those who’ve come along to see it for the first time.
It’s really the one chance I get to hear what people think of my newest work and that feedback is always very helpful when it comes to starting new pictures.
All in all it was a lovely night, with lots of interest and by closing time at 8pm 10 pictures were sold, ranging in price from £250 for a framed etching of Victoria Street in Edinburgh to £3450 for my large oil painting of Muckle Flugga.
I want to say a huge !!THANK YOU!! to Hugh, Julie and Jenny at the gallery for making it such a wonderful event and also to Lucy who so beautifully framed many of the pictures there! Massive thanks also to Kevin at Framing Point in Aberdeen for his incredible service and help over the past couple of years! I can’t recommend both highly enough!
And, finally, thank you so much to everyone who came along on the night, with some of you traveling a fair distance to get there! When you buy my pictures, or any artist’s, you really are helping to ensure that we can keep making more and the world would be a much duller place without art!
Here are some photos from the night. If you couldn’t make it along but still want to see the show, then you still have 2 weeks to go. And if you do go, please let me know what you think.
I am delighted to announce that my first solo show with Frames Gallery in Perth opens in less than a week and will run until 25th March! I have been exhibiting regularly with the gallery since the very earliest days of my artistic adventures, and working with Hugh and his team has always been a great pleasure.
I hope this diverse collection of over 40 paintings and original prints will not only demonstrate my development as a painter and printmaker over the past 15 years, but will also be something of a visual feast. However, that’ll be for you to decide!
Come along and enjoy a glass of wine at the private view this Friday 3rd March 6-8pm at Frames Gallery. It would be great to see you there!
Here is just a little taster of what will be on show …
So if you’re looking for an extra special and very personal Christmas present for yourself or a loved one then look no further!
Select anything from my Big Cartel shop using discount code BLACKFRIDAY and you’ll not only get this great saving but you’ll also receive it carefully wrapped and packaged well before Christmas.
And that includes one of my very rare and highly saught after Blue Moon etchings! There’s just a couple of these available right now, so you’ll have to be quick off the mark to get one at this price – and with almost £150 off the usual price!
[PLEASE NOTE: my Blue Moon numbered edition has now SOLD OUT! See most recent post for details on how to reserve a a very rare Artist Proof Blue Moon!]
I am very excited to be showing several of my oil paintings and handmade prints with Edinburgh’s newest purveyor of fine art, Graystone Gallery. Owner Lesley has found a truly inspired space for her inaugural show in what has to be the most exquisite and stylish boutique hotel I’ve ever seen!
And you are invited to the Private View at 24 Royal Terrace this coming Thursday (details below).
On any given day, the walls of 24 Royal Terrace, aka The Art Hotel, are full of colour and when I dropped off my own works for this winter show last Friday I was astonished (in a very good way!) to see such a huge variety of great art in one incredible setting. The pictures above give only a tiny taste of what it’s really like in there!
The hotel owner, who has personally collected art from around the world and curated each and every room herself, not only has excellent taste but has created a highly unique setting in which you can indulge yourself over a cocktail or a fine whisky while taking in some fabulous contemporary art.
Alongside some pretty huge and important works by the likes of John Bellany and Alan Davie, there’s a highly ecclectic mix of landscapes, figurative and abstract pieces that should pique the interest of any art enthusiast. I could easily have spent a day in there myself!
For this first Graystone Gallery pop-up show a number of the walls have been rehung with works by around 20 contemporary artists from Scotland and beyond, including 9 by yours truly.
So if you love art and happen to be in Edinburgh this coming Thursday evening then you need to get along to the private view (details below)!
If you can’t make that then the show will run until 2 Jan 2023. And, as you can see below, Lesley has also organised a number of events to run alongside this show, including an Artist’s Night, at which I and a couple of others will discuss our techniques and inspirations.
It all promises to be a very special feast for the eyes and one not to be missed this festive period!