Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Diary of a Cold Spell

‘Diary of a Cold Spell’

paintings by Silvana McLean

jewellery by Eileen Gatt

Exhibition at Designs Gallery 8th October – 12th November 2016

 ‘Diary of a Cold Spell’, an exhibition of paintings by artist Silvana McLean, opens on Saturday 8th October at Designs Gallery, Castle Douglas .

This body of work is the result of a month long residency Silvana spent in Iceland earlier in the year experiencing and documenting through her sketches and paintings the remarkable landscape of this extraordinary country.

She set off from Scotland at the end of February to live in Siglufjordur, the northernmost town in North Iceland to paint, draw and absorb the atmosphere and terrain of snowbound mountains, fjords and snowy skies, returning home at the end of March just as the spring began to arrive in the far North.

While away, she kept a journal and blog of her experiences. Taking along her notebooks she absorbed herself in the surroundings, her observations and sketches of  a northern landscape  translated into these remarkable paintings.  

Freezing temperatures, powerful windspeeds, the gathering light and the sounds of ice and snow made a deep impact on her senses the further north she travelled.

The exhibition at Designs is timely as we have now passed the autumnal equinox and are heading for our winter. In Iceland the first snows have fallen on Mount Esja, not far from Reykjavik and clearly visible from it. Birds will be leaving for the South and many will have already left.

On a previous trip to Iceland Silvana  recalls ‘One of the most moving sights I’ve seen was one early October on the south coast of Iceland, one hundred or so swans were flying over the mountains on their way to Caerlaverock and other sites in Dumfriesshire – as it turned out.  Their arrival was important enough to feature on the news, serendipitously and oddly timed with my own arrival home five days later to watch that news and find out I’d seen them leaving. The sound of all those wings is unforgettable.’

 A reminder that Iceland is a northerly neighbour.

The exhibition runs from 8th October to 12th November and also features jewellery from Eileen Gatt.

Eileen spent time in Alaska working with Inuit artists whose way of perceiving art was very similar to her own, creating three dimensional interpretations of an idea which is imaginary.

Eileen’s jewellery and silversmithing makes references to these traditions, interpreting how these myths and superstitions are perceived today.

Those familiar with her work will recognize the simplicity and understatement of her silverwork with designs which include polar bears, arctic hares, and new creations - penguins, all creatures of our frozen polar regions.




Monday, 4 July 2016

CERAMICS- the influence of Japan


9th July- 27th August 2016
Designs Gallery summer exhibition opens on Saturday 9th July with the work of three potters, Archie McCall, Andy Priestman and Russell Coates .  All three are British makers whose work has been heavily influenced by the Japanese ceramic tradition.

  At first glance their work seems unrelated, however as one looks more closely  the simplicity of the form, the attention paid to the pattern and surface glazes of their pots creates a sense of the simplicity and strength of the Japanese craft. Teabowls, lidded jars, decorated platters and pots are on display in the exhibition which runs until 27th August.

Archie McCall’s interest in ceramics began out of curiosity after first seeing Japanese tea bowls. He served a 3 year apprenticeship with John Davey of Bridge of Dee, near Castle Douglas whose work was largely influenced by the ‘East meets West’ philosophy of the potter Bernard Leach and then in 1974 he travelled in Japan and Korea before establishing his first pottery in Dumfries & Galloway. He spent a number of years as Head of Ceramics at Glasgow School of Art where he introduced the innovative part-time BA(Hons) degree programme which is delivered through residential schools and on-line, distance learning. He now works from his studio in New Abbey where he produces teabowls and larger pieces, thrown in stoneware and richly decorated with glaze, pigments and luster.

Andy Priestman’s high fired porcelain and stoneware pieces, whilst being perhaps influenced by a more Northern European tradition have glazes inspired by the stoneware and porcelain of China, Korea and Japan .  Room 95 in the British Museum, which houses a magnificent collection of Chinese ceramics with pots from the earliest years of high fired pottery, is an inspiration for his work.

 He has been making high fired pottery, both porcelain and stoneware, for over forty years at Minniwick, near Glentrool.
Russell Coates’ unique style is influenced by Kutani Ware which he studied in Japan, He  won the Mombusho scholarship to study enamelled porcelain under Professor Fujio Kitade of Kanazawa College of Art& Design in Ishikawa prefecture in Japan in 1971.He has lectured and taught pottery, including courses in Japanese enamelled porcelain ,since 1975 and works as a potter in Somerset. Russell has always been deeply interested in Japan and realized that ceramics/pottery was one of the most highly regarded of the creative arts in Japan and there was a long tradition of creative diversity.