AT THE OPENINGS of solo exhibitions, we generally have a large crowd with people keen to meet the artists. The gallery is a sociable place where friends arrange to meet to view exhibitions together, to discuss paintings and perhaps enjoy a glass of wine as they look round a show. Friends may bump into each other, by chance, and spend time catching up. At other times, conversations break out between strangers when people share their thoughts on particular paintings or sculpture.
It is all very enjoyable although it can be nerve wracking too as artists wait to see the response to their latest work.
Sadly, at the moment, the gallery cannot be the same lively and sociable place it normally is as we are in the ‘new normal’ and everyone is masked up and keeping their distance.
WE HAVE JUST had the first exhibition opening at the gallery since the Spring with solo shows by Deborah Phillips and Stephen M.Redpath. There has been a great response to both artists’ work but it has been strange having to marshal visitors. People have been acting sensibly and considerately, patiently waiting in one room until another group has moved through. No one is rushed. It is all working well but we do miss the buzz of a crowded gallery.
The joy of art comes in its infinite variety and we could scarcely have more different artists than Deborah and Steve.
Deborah is a well established, well known, widely exhibited artist whose richly textured vibrant paintings are highly collectible.
Steve is newly embarking on his career as an artist and this is his first ever solo exhibition. His sensitive, expressive watercolours are quite special and there is rare beauty in his work.
Deborah first exhibited at the RSA, aged 14, and has been an artist ever since.
“I enjoy all aspects of creating a painting, from going out into the the stunning Scottish countryside to collect reference material, priming the board on which I will paint, squeezing paint from the tubes and watching it glisten on the palette, holding the well used brushes, mixing the squelchy colour and applying it in swathes, varnishing, framing and then seeing the finished article on a gallery wall — every stage gives me a thrill.”
Steve had an idyllic childhood in rural Pembrokeshire spent largely exploring the natural world. This led to an academic career as an ecologist studying wildlife and landscape but he never lost his passion for art.
“I paint to capture light and the essence of landscapes…I love to work in that area between representation and abstract and I strive for those exhilarating moments where the landscape and my emotional response become interwoven in the painting.”
Some paintings are more difficult to display online than others. Paintings with a lot of texture and layers of paint are especially difficult and Deborah Phillips’ paintings are among those. Anyone who knows her work will know how cleverly she incorporates all sorts of materials such as leaf skeletons and grains into her paintings. But if you have never seen her work in real life, only on screen, then you are missing so much. Deborah often uses touches of metallic paint; the subtle sparkle enhances her painting.
We have been delighted by the response to Steve’s work. It is rare to see watercolours of such quality. His largest painting, ‘Machair’, stops people in their tracks. It is simply stunning. It is a pity Steve’s first show has had to be in this difficult time but he is definitely one to watch and savour. The intensity of pigment he uses and the gradation of washes perfectly transmit his experience of landscape.
The exhibition continues until Saturday 26 September, open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 to 4. We are more than happy to welcome you on other days if you wish to visit outwith these hours. Just get in touch.
Blog by Joan Ross