Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Gallery Visit: National Portrait Gallery

I've talked about my experiences with portraiture before. I'm often (unjustifiably) amazed at the sheer variety and imagination in depicting the human face. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is an astounding ode to this creativity, with several floors, some areas devoted to portraiture through out history while others feature changing exhibitions of both contemporary and historical work.
There is a huge variety of mediums from sculpture to photography and even a library that features the death masks of several eminent figures (like Samuel Beckett and John Keats) as well as those of infamous or "unsavoury" characters (these ideals heavily influenced by physiognomy!)

The BP Portrait Award, showing until the end of February, shows contemporary portrait painting from around the world (I have more to say about this show specifically but I'll save that for a real post). 
The Red Chair. Maria Carbonell

Friday, December 11, 2015

Rivers and Tides

Andy Goldsworthy has long been one of those artists I am continually inspired by. His work is a collaboration with nature, often defying all expectations of what can be accomplished using only raw materials found in their natural environment. As his works are site specific and often sculptural, it is all the more wonderful to me that they are constructed using the natural elements of each site so that the work is integrally linked to the space in which it is assembled. Part of the beauty (or perhaps downfall) in using these materials, however, is the ephemerality of many of these works. Leaves, twigs, ice or water based projects can quickly decay, wash away or fall apart leaving only their memories, or a photographic reference that most of these works are viewed through. Even the more sturdy of his constructs such as his many stone cones and other rock sculptures have the potential to eventually be disassembled by time...

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Gallery Visit: Artist and the Sea

As a small island, Scotland is understandably deeply influenced by its proximity to the ocean. One of the many ways this is evidenced is through a long history of artists who have been inspired by the sea and the plethora of industries, cultures and lives that revolve around it.
The Artist and the Sea gathers a host of different artists and subject matter that relate back to the ocean whether it is through the portrayal of harbours, boats, fishermen/women or through the attempts to evoke that feeling the sea awakes in us. There is a huge variety of perspectives and media–art and artists from opposite ends of the spectrum inspired by and working with the same theme. It is fascinating to see such contrasting perspectives that surround a similar subject matter.

The Artist and the Sea is on until May 2016

Saturday, August 22, 2015


In exciting museum news of the month, MOCCA will be relocating it's premises to a much larger location on Sterling. Its destination promises a much larger space which will be fantastic for hosting more large and ambitious exhibitions (although they have done quite well with that already). More info here on the relocation. Sadly this also means no MOCCA for the next couple of years. For the final exhibition at its current location the museum has been transformed into a cabin and an enclosed dryland harbour where rests a listing boat filled to the brim with memorabilia and other..stuff.
Q.W.Y.C. (Queen West Yacht Club) turns MOCCA into a space where visitors can mingle in the cabin or gather around the boat for a shared glimpse of the artist's hoarding habit.
What I like about this set up is the invitation in the conglomeration of stuff that fills each constructed space. It feels right to pick up the old Hardy Boy's mystery books stacked haphazardly on the shelf and muse about how I read every one I could get my hands on when I was a kid, or to trace the path around the map of PEI and wonder whether I could go back there.. It is a refreshing change to the usual sterile museum space that separates object from viewer. This exhibition encourages immersion within the space and dismantles the sacred bubble surrounding most artifacts in museums.
Baldwin creates an immersive space not only of discovery but of memory. Many items within the boat call to mind childhood adventures exploring my attic or running wild in the fields. When I stick my head inside for a closer look, the smell of old leather, books and wood creeps into my nostrils, transporting me immediately to my youth.

Also showing is Elmgreen & Dragset's screenplay Drama Queens which features several different sculptures removed from museum or gallery setting and put on stage. As the pieces interact and discuss art, the universe and everything, how we view and interact with art is put under the spotlight. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015


Happy Nunavut Day! July 9 celebrates two acts passed in 1993, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act and the Nunavut Act. Nunavut then officially became a territory on April 1, 1999.
The museum of Inuit Art is marking this date with the opening of a wonderful new exhibition, Unikkaaqtuit: Inuit Creation Stories. It features pages from several different creation myths along with many sculptures from the collection.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


A few random sketches...nothing too special but I do like to carry around a book to doodle in whenever I'm at a loose end. Summer is generous to sketchers, presenting me with opportunities to capture images on the page everywhere I look. More difficult is picking what I will focus on...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Harry Clarke

The Eve of St. Agnes
       Who can describe the magic that is Harry Clarke's stained glass images? His most famous piece, The Eve of St. Agnes is an illustration of the Keats poem of the same name. It resides in the Hugh Lane in Dublin–the work is admirable in itself but I am drawn in by Clarke's distinctive style. I originally saw the sketches for this work before the finished product and was enamored with the delicate and detailed drawings and slightly odd looking characters...

The Eve of St. Agnes (detail)

The finished product is essentially a comic book in stained glass, a series of panels that show scenes from the poem. It is enchanting, enthralling and and lovely but also holds a sinister bent, not just from the tale itself but in the renderings of each person. The glass panels, though transformed through the brilliant colours and backlight also carry shadows that hint at some of the strangeness and creepiness of the narrative.
The Masque of the Red Death

Harry Clarke, illustration from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

 I am very much drawn to the incredible detail of his pen work. The stark black and white images carry the same magic that his stained glass work does, yet the closer you look, the more there is to discover. When seen from a distance they are arresting, the images convey a sense of narrative and an intriguing sense of mystery. Many also have an odd disturbing quality that I find equally intriguing, appropriately he illustrated Edgar Allen Poe's stories as well.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner