Friday, December 30, 2011

With Thanks

It has been an amazing year at Smithy Gallery. 

In such unpredictable times we have had a very good year, including four very successful solo exhibitions.  Thank you so much to George Birrell, Gordon Wilson, Sandy Murphy RSW RGI and Margaretann Bennett RSW for bringing excitement, colour, beauty and drama to the gallery. 

With each show, the space was transformed into a different world and took me with it.  I loved each one.

Thank you to all the wonderful artists that have supported the gallery since we opened six years ago.  And also to the new artists who have entrusted us with their work.  We would be nothing without you, except for four very characterful old walls, wooden beams, a slate roof - a very pretty cottage - but not the contemporary and stimulating place that I had always dreamt of.

And of course thank you to the customers, old and new.  It's lovely to see the gallery being enjoyed by regularly visitors, and it's lovely to be discovered.

Lastly, thank you to the special people in my life (you know who you are!).  You amaze me with your tireless interest in all things gallery, and you help me in more ways than you realise.  I simply couldn't do it without you.

Have a wonderful New Year.  See you in 2012!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Warm and Cosy

I'm feeling delicate in more ways than one.  There is such a build up to Christmas and then bam, it's all over in a haze of wrapping paper, telly, food and family.  Any routines are out the window and nobody knows what day it is!  And I ate too much.

I'll be back at the gallery tomorrow, Wednesday I think.  People love to visit the gallery at this time.  It's a lovely time to relax and enjoy art in the no man's land between Christmas and New Year.

I've had a lovely Christmas, but I'm looking forward to getting back to the beautiful paintings we have for the Winter Exhibition.  These two beauties by George Grant and Gordon Wilson are just an example of the range of work we have to brighten up the winter weather.

Logs will be crackling in the wood burning stove, and all are welcome!

Thanks for reading!


Friday, December 23, 2011

It's A Wonderful Life

Christmas can bring all sorts of different things.  It can be merry, it can be stressful, it can be poignant, it can be sad.  We've probably all had different experiences at this heightened time of year.

This year it's been a very happy Christmas for Smithy Gallery.  The gallery has just turned six years old (don't you just hate it when a birthday clashes with Christmas!) and even through these trying times, I'm so happy to say that with each year, the gallery has gone from strength to strength.

This is to do with a dream, but mainly it's about relationships.  The artists we show are not only incredibly talented, but also kind and supportive.  So many art-lovers frequent the gallery regularly, always with kind remarks and positivity. 

I had always hoped to have a gallery that people felt happy in.  A warm, calm but stimulating place to be. My dream came true.

I'll be taking a few days off over the festive period (opening times are on the website).  I'll maybe do a little bit of relaxing, but mainly dreaming.  No harm in reaching for the stars!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Crackers

People keep commenting on how beautiful the paintings are in this year's Winter Exhibition.  It's music to my ears, and when I see the smiles and hear the lovely comments, it can make me feel all puffed up.  I realise that I see some of the paintings as my babies and I want them to be appreciated!

I also enjoy the discussion about what people like, and what they don't like, and why.  I love to show all different types of artists' work.  I think if an artist is good, then their work should be different.

That's what I look for, and hopefully it makes for an interesting exhibition.  I'm very pleased to say that the Christmas spirit is alive and well and many paintings have been lovingly bought as Christmas presents.  Here are some of the beauties that are still available!

From the top, we have a beautiful George Birrell, a striking David Martin RSW RGI and a gorgeously textured Alma Wolfson.

Above is a painting by the newly elected RSW David Smith, then a stunning figurative work from newcomer Felix Daly, and finally a flamboyant Henry Fraser.

Actually looking at the paintings that haven't yet sold, I realise that it really is a striking exhibition and I am delighted that so many people have enjoyed it.

There's still time to visit before Christmas.  But remember, a painting isn't just for Christmas, it's for life - what a gift!!

Thanks for reading!


Friday, December 16, 2011

Beautiful Scotland

The choice of Christmas card by Scotland's First Minister has recently been unveiled.  Oh the pressure.  He must have had a whole team working on this!  I know I have terrible trouble choosing between a happy Rudolph full of festive fun, or a contemplative snow scene filled with an optimistic warm glow.

Bella Caledonia

It is an intriguing choice because this piece of work is by Alasdair Gray, and it is multi-layered.  This is hardly surprising coming from the brush of one of Scotland's most celebrated artists, writers and thinkers.

The painting is entitled Bella Caledonia, but the character of Bella first appeared in one of Alasdair Gray's novels, Poor Things.  As he explains, “The original is lost long ago, but I have painted different versions of Bella. I changed the hat to a Glengarry and put a tartan plaid over her shoulder. The character is a strong woman with an enquiring mind and a sense of social justice, the qualities we would like Scotland to have also.”

This explains the First Minister's choice, but there is much more to Bella's character than that.

Poor Things has been described as a postmodern revision of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, with Bella Baxter as the central character, that of the monster. Having met her demise, she then becomes the centre of a love triangle, brought back to life with the brain of an infant . . . .  I love Alasdair Gray - I so want to read this book now! 

It has to be noted that the beautiful Bella is deliberately illustrated in a pose similar to that other genius's painting, the Mona Lisa.  Just a Christmas card?

I think it's fabulous that like all great art, there is so much more to this work than immediately meets the eye.

Many deserving charities will benefit from the cards and the auction of the painting, and I think that the more appreciation of Alasdair Gray there is, the better.  We Scots are not ones to toot our own horns, we do tend to keep quiet about great talent.  He is an untrumpeted Scottish National Treasure! 

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hidden Treasures

I love discovering something wonderful that I wasn't looking for.  Plans are all well and good, but there is nothing like turning a corner and seeing something unexpectedly beautiful or exciting.  Isn't this what we remember most?

The gallery houses exhibitions of paintings, my first love.  Having been a painter myself, I can't tell you how much I admire the boldness, skill and unbridled talent of the many different painters working in Scotland today.  I am so lucky to have met so many of them, and to be able to showcase their work on the gallery walls.  

Many visitors come to the gallery because they have been invited, or they don't want to miss the exhibition that's currently showing.  It may be it a solo exhibition, a three person, or a large mixed show like the Winter exhibition on at the moment.  But as they slowly walk round and take in the paintings, I see their eye being caught by small treasures that they weren't expecting to see. 

How can any animal lover not notice this little Siamese . . . .

. . . . or this proud pooch?!

And anyone who likes to pour their milk in style in the morning, can't help but have their head turned by these beautifully crafted hand painted jugs!  And if they like those, they will also love this fabulous ceramic platter.


The gleam in the jewellery cabinet always draws people in for a closer look.  And many people leave happy with a surprise present for themselves or for another.

My first love is painting, but I'm happy to say there are treasures everywhere, if we just care to look in different directions.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, December 09, 2011

We're Not in Kansas Anymore . . . .

I live quite far away from the gallery and decided yesterday during Hurricane Bawbag (titter) that it wouldn't be a good idea to get in my car and face the fearsome gusts and flying branches. 

The gallery is housed in a 200 year old building - old sandstones, beams and a slate tiled roof.  As I stayed home, safe and warm, I worried that it may have been whisked away, Wizard of Oz style. 

Of course that would make me Dorothy (every little girl's dream) but even so, I am pleased to say that everything is as it should be - tiled roof is intact and oldie-fashioned swinging sign hasn't been blown off its hinges.

Inside, the Winter exhibition is still hanging beautifully, and bursting full of talent and treats.  Like Alma Wolfson's 'Mull Rainbow' . . . .

Sculptor Christine Cummings' little dog . . . . .

Gordon Wilson's 'Roister Doister' . . . . .

And Henry Fraser's 'Malina'  . . . .

The exhibition is packed full of beautiful paintings, ceramics and jewellery by the best and most varied of Scottish contemporary artists.  It's sure to keep us warm and fill us with wonder over the festive season!

So I'm glad to say we have a happy ending.  I see blue skies, even a little sunshine today!

Wait a minute . . . . hurricane, rainbow, little dog.  Does that look like the Tin Man to you?  Could Malina be a Wizard?!  Does this make me Dorothy after all, just a little bit?

Okay, perhaps I have a vivid imagination, but I think I'll wear my red shoes tonight anyway.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Spoiled For Choice!

Jeweller Sarah Anderson has been working hard to add more sparkle to the gallery with a new collection for Christmas.  A graduate of Glasgow School of Art and a versatile jeweller, she works mainly in Sterling silver and freshwater pearl, creating intricately beautiful, yet affordable pieces.

I absolutely love the silver jewellery.  Each piece is made up of tiny links, expertly chained together to create very different finishes.  The Queens Link is big and bold (I have one of these) . . . . .

The Byzantine Link is small, shiny and delicate, like spun sugar (I have both of these) . . . . .

And the Flatmail Link extravagantly caresses the skin like a delicate chain mail (a Christmas present to myself this year I think!) . . . . .

There are other finishes too, all in bracelets, necklaces and earrings.  She likes each piece to be versatile, so she does a beautiful range of charms in silver and stone and crystal that can be attached.

Her freshwater pearl work is exquisitely matched with silver adornments. Leaf twists or hearts, or a curled silver leaf encasing another pearl.  She also incorporates Swarovski crystal work.

All Sarah's work is beautifully presented in black velvet and satin-lined boxes.  An affordable extravagance!

Oops, now all my girlfriends know what they will be getting for Christmas!

Thanks for reading!


Friday, December 02, 2011

The Graduate

I recently found myself exploring the hallowed halls of Glasgow School of Art.  The richness of the wooden panels, the MacIntosh detailing, the sour sweet smell of oils.  I found myself being transported back through through the decades, when so many of Scotland's great and good would have soaked up this atmosphere  . . . John Byrne, Liz Lochhead, Robbie Coltrane, Peter Capaldi, Alasdair Gray.  Just a few of the many talented and creative types amongst the art school's famous alumni. 

It is a special place, and you can sense the creative weight of it when you enter through its beautiful doors.  As they swing shut, it's as if you have left the grey of Glasgow's streets far, far behind and entered quite a different world.


It seems the talent in Scotland is burgeoning out of all of it's art schools.  A more recent graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone College is Felix Daly, and we are pleased to be showing two of his striking works in the current Winter Exhibition.  Although I am told that the emphasis has changed in many art schools from a traditional grounding in drawing and paining, to a broader more conceptual one, I am excited to see this neglected grounding being so exquisitely expressed in Felix's work.

This kind of bold figurative expression is seen less and less.  It makes the work all the more arresting, almost daring.  And the large scale of the works, almost life-size, make them impossible to ignore.

I look forward to seeing what the younger graduate achieves.  Maybe he will follow in the footsteps of Scotland's outstanding talents.  Watch this space!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Comfort and Joy

I've been desperately trying to hold onto Autumn, but I think it might be time to let it go. . . . but look, I have this to console me,  the Winter Exhibition is now open! 

The gallery is filled with paintings, ceramics and jewellery by over twenty-five brilliant artists. And it's a delight to see such vibrancy and beauty during this cold, grey, and today, completely soaking time of year.

Okay, it's winter, who am I kidding!  But people have been streaming through the Smithy doors today to see the show.  And such lovely customers they are.  I have a bad cold and have even lost my voice, but they don't seem to mind me communicating through sign language.  Maybe it's better that way . . . . Some have even taken pity on me and are buying early Christmas presents to cheer me up.  Possibly not the main reason, but it has cheered me up!

What has also cheered me up is the beautiful new work that is surrounding me. Look at the stunning figurative painting above by newcomer to Smithy Gallery, Felix Daly.  It is truly beautiful, and I can't wait to see what this young artist does next.

I have many more beautiful works to share with you, but today Felix's painting is my favourite, it's so calming and comforting.  Much more to come though!

Thanks for reading!


Friday, November 25, 2011

The Big Day

I'm tired, but I'm happy. 

I'm really pleased to say that I have just finished hanging a new exhibition.  The Winter exhibition.  It's really the Christmas exhibition, but I think that lovely word sometimes has a 'come and buy something or else!' tone about it, when the gallery is more about 'come and enjoy, relax, peruse . . . . . '

' . . . . . and then buy, because you simply can't live without that beautiful unique piece of art that will enhance your home and your life forever!' 

I love, love, love hanging exhibitions.  It's like a huge puzzle that I have to solve, fitting all of these glorious works into the gallery, ensuring each and every one of them shines out, whilst creating a beautiful and balanced space.

The atmosphere in the gallery is very important to me.  I guess it's like my home, except the artists that I like and respect have entrusted me to take care of, and show off their hard work and talent.  It's very important to me that their work is showcased properly. 

So I hope I've done a good job.  I guess I shall find out when the exhibition opens this Sunday.  Ooh, did I mention it's the gallery's birthday that day?!  Six years old!  A baby really.  Well, a handful that's talking back!  And it is.  It's full of life, some surprises and lots of treats.

So please come to the show this Sunday.  I would love to see you there.  Birthday cards and presents are all welcome . . . . !

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tiptoeing Through The Talent!

The wonderful Margaretann Bennett RSW came to the gallery today to collect her unsold paintings, and I have to say, she didn't have too many to collect.  The exhibition was an incredibly well-deserved success. 

As we carefully wrapped her pieces, we tiptoed through the new paintings that have arrived for our Winter Exhibition.  All eighty-five of them!

We have paintings by David Martin RSW RGI, Ronald Smith RSW RGI, Henry Fraser, Marj Bond RSW, Gordon Wilson, Laura Harrison, Sian MacQueen RSW, David Smith RSW, Marion Thomson, George Grant, Joyce Gunn Cairns MBE . . . .  and on and on . . . . a Christmas exravaganza!

As I ever-so-sadly wrapped up the last of Margaretann's wonderful show, my heart skipped a little beat when I thought, well that David Martin could go there, and that Ronald Smith would look amazing over there!  And my mind started to race as I could see the challenge of making sure that so many beautiful and different paintings sat happily together in the gallery space.

I am so lucky to be surrounded by such beauty and talent, which I will share with you over the coming weeks.  It is why it's so important to me to do the artists' work justice by hanging them as beautifully as possible.

Now fitting it all in . . . well that's another thing . . . .

Thanks for reading!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Beauty and The Beast

There are two paintings in the Margaretann Bennett RSW exhibition that I'm surprised haven't sold yet. Okay, predicting what's going to sell is almost impossible, that's one of the things I enjoy, but there are two paintings that have had a lot of admiration and comment from different people, and when that happens, it usually means they will be off to a good home sooner rather than later.

Beauty here is called 'Stung'.  She's wee and demure and very pretty.  She has been admired from the day she arrived in the gallery.  And then there's this wee beastie . . . .

He's called 'Hugger', he's wee, he's had a tough time, but anyone can see he just needs a little love and attention!  Sorry I called you a wee beastie Hugger!

I don't often talk to the paintings, but there is something about Margaretann's characters that feel full of life, stories and mischief.  I've enjoyed them for almost four weeks, and have only two more days left with them.

Thanks Margaretann, and well done for such a successful show.  I'll miss them when they're gone!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Last Week

The Margaretann Bennett RSW solo exhibition ends this Sunday and it has been an absolute joy. 

I have loved the way the gallery has felt, how it has been transformed into a desirable rogues' gallery of mischievous, mysterious, playful personalities.  Each painting is a thing of beauty, layered with story-telling and intricate work, the secrets behind which only Margaretann knows.

She has already sold twenty of her paintings, which reflects the overwhelming appreciation and desire people have for this beautiful work.  The unsold paintings are just as stunning as the sold ones.  Take Lady Vengeance here!

I hope I can find a good home for her before Sunday.  She looks like she could do with some TLC!

In this difficult climate,  it is so reassuring and inspiring to see that hard work, dedication and most of all talent, don't go unnoticed.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Mixing It Up

It's all change at the end of the month.  Our winter exhibition is going to be bright, beautiful, and fabulously eclectic!

At Smithy Gallery we like to show the best of Scottish art, and the best Scottish artists are bold, distinctive and unlike anybody else.  Take Batman here!  This is 'Self Portrait as a Superhero' by well known Edinburgh artist, Henry Fraser.  I love it, and I might have to have it!

This is a stunning painting by David Martin RSW RGI, and as far as I am concerned, he is a new old master.

This is the delicate touch of Marion Thomson.  I just love some warm looking snow, like marshmallow!

And figurative work by the fearless Gordon Wilson has the direct approach that people admire.  You can't avoid 'Roister Doister's' gaze, and why would you want to!

And brand new to Smithy Gallery, the wonderful Felix Daly.  I hope sleeping beauty here keeps warm this winter.  She is also going to be the face of this exhibition, she's on the front cover of our invitation.  Look out for yours, or contact the gallery if you would like to receive one.

Thanks for reading!