(Off at a tangent . . .’Notwithstanding’ what a wonderful word. I don’t think I have ever used it before; in fact I am sure I haven’t. I chose this word because I did not want to write despite or in spite of – neither of those mean what I mean. I think it is because they include ‘spite’ which causes tension in my head. Then choosing the distance of sixty miles is because I can get there and back in a day.)
I go to St. Andrews frequently and have done since I was young yet I do not remember ever visiting St Andrews Museum in Kinburn Park so when I see that ‘The Glasgow Boys – A Spirit of Rebellion’ is one of their exhibitions I decide to have a look at both the building and the art. Museums are among my favourite places to go, along with art galleries, gardens and the seaside so today is potentially thought overload. Kinburn Castle houses the museum and is a squat chunky Victorian mansion built in 1855 and surrounded by attractive gardens.
The Glasgow Boys are a group of artists from over a hundred years ago who I am conscious of but have never really examined and there are particular paintings I remember having seen in other galleries (the McManus in Dundee). From this perspective in time it takes a deliberate effort to consider the fact that these painters were considered radical, using techniques and methods which were unfamiliar to many and providing an alternative to the Edinburgh art world. Some of these paintings are so familiar to me that I do not really see them, this is interesting for me as an artist, my gaze slips over and glides away, I find myself thinking about other subjects, or watching the reflection in the picture glass of other gallery goers moving briskly from work to another. With a shrug I remind myself to look properly, to give due attention to this evidence of humanity’s continuing urge to create. I look at them but I do not truly recognise how different they were from other art at the time, for example; works by Edward Hornel (who sometimes worked with another Glasgow boy, George Henry) remind me of biscuit box lids or illustrations in the children’s books I read in my childhood. There is a sickly sweet quality in his pictures of young girls which is not present in his other works (see his collaborative works made with George Henry such as ‘Old man’1881 ). There are other paintings which I do like and have not seen before and again I register that I remember the work of art and not the name of the artist. This painting is beautiful and for the nth time I ask myself, why do some paintings resonate and others just slide by? There are so many factors which affect our visual aesthetic that there is no point in asking really – it just comes down to like/ not like.
In the afternoon I went on to St Andrews Botanic Garden to look at the tropical butterflies housed in a small and extremely hot glass house. At the door I was advised to shed my coat and bag because of the heat and after ten minutes I was dripping wet – my camera stopped working and I simply sat down and watched the butterflies. I could have sat there all afternoon – the butterflies were truly beautiful, some brilliantly coloured and so many patterns on their wings and on their bodies. Visitors are advised to take care of where they tread as the butterflies will rest on the path, and to check themselves as they leave because the butterflies will alight on our bodies and drink our perspiration. The very friendly volunteer told me about the butterflies being delivered in pupae form from a butterfly farm, hatched and then set free for our delight – butterflies don’t live for very long and after being told this I found myself questioning why I was initially happy to be there. In the end I felt that a butterfly probably doesn’t realise it’s living in a glorified shed rather than a jungle (although I can never actually know this) and it was a chance for children to see animals in reality rather than through the medium of an illuminated flatscreen. But that’s another conversation entirely.
Other news this month, the summer solstice on the 20th June is the best time of the year for someone like me who in the winter regularly experiences ‘achluophobia, nyctophobia (from Greek νυξ, “night”), scotophobia (from σκότος – “darkness”), or lygophobia (from λυγή – “twilight”). I joined in the Symphonic Ecology Project : World Wide Soundscape by recording the sound of where I was at noon for two minutes. The recording is noisy because it’s next to a weir on the Lornty Burn in Blairgowrie where the water flow is controlled by a hydro electric turbine. Projects asking for contributions from many different people from all walks of life always pique my interest, it reminds me of how tiny I am in the scheme of the world and restores an essential perspective.
A proposal for one of my artworks ( as yet incomplete) was accepted by Perthshire Creates for their exhibition beginning in September at Perth Museum and Art Gallery, it has to be finished by 19th of September and delivered to the door on the 20th. After I’ve finished this blog I will be cracking on with that, it’s called Scratch Notes – volume ? and is a portable sewing box which unfolds into four small boxes and one larger. I sent a drawing to explain how it was to be displayed and a friend said they didn’t understand the drawing. . .which is ok . . I don’t mind.
I delivered my wax figures to Roddy Mathieson Master Caster of the Mobile Foundry for casting in bronze – they are going to be my part of the group exhibition Seven in Spittalfield Hall (Venue 20, Orange Route, Perthshire Open Studios 2016) he hopes to get them done in July then I will be riffling away at them and maybe applying some different finishes depending on how they look.
Last but not least it was confirmed that I will be running a drawing class for Blairgowrie and Rattray Adult Education called Ways into Drawing starting in the autumn at the new creative venue in Blairgowrie – Nest managed by Rachel Bower and Tracie Dick.
Places I have been before and I am going to again – Glen Beanie 31 July 2016
Last year I went to Glen Beanie to draw with a group of artists from Perthshire Visual Arts Forum led by George Logan it was an exceptional day even though we were all soaked by the end. This year we are going again to discuss various ideas and concepts. . .it’s going to be good.