Friday, April 27, 2012

Joyce Gunn Cairns MBE

I knew Joyce Gunn Cairns was something special when I first met her.  Almost immediately she felt like a fearless force of nature to me.  She is an artist in the true sense of the word, in the way she lives.  Eats, sleeps and breathes it.  This is something I hugely admire.  She is also a writer, a commentator, and she's beautiful and funny.

And then there is the work.  I loved her paintings instantly, and I had never seen anything quite like them before.  It's so rare to find work completely unique to the artist.  It's a rare quality to be able to give something completely new to the world.  And talent like this should be cherished.

Like her contemporary Alasdair Gray, she is very literary and several of her works in the current exhibition are based on literature that has meaning for her.  This piece in entitled Lady Lazurus, based on a Sylvia Plath poem.

This powerful work stands alone, but when you delve into the inspiration behind it, it becomes imbued with even more.  Is it perhaps a lament to the troubled poet?

I have never had an exhibition that has inspired me to read so much.  All of Alasdair Gray's works are borne out of writings - his own, or that of his inspirations.  And this piece of Joyce's is a haunting and beautiful ode to the Henry James short story, Turn of The Screw.  I had seen this compelling ghost story as a film years ago, but to read the original tale is so much more gripping.  It's my night-time read at the moment and I am hooked.

I'm pleased to say that in amongst all the layering and meaning, Joyce also loves her cat, plain and simple.  And she paints him often in all of his catty moods.  The two paintings we have of her beloved Seamus sold almost immediately and will be going to very good feline-loving homes.

Her love of the wildlife is evident, and a pottering otter or a sleeping Seamus sit happily beside the more provocative works of art.  Everything of Joyce's feels multi-dimensional and there is so much of herself in her work.  Every stroke of a pencil or a brush is full of feeling.

This very special exhibition of works by Joyce Gunn Cairns and Alasdair Gray continues until 13 May and is well worth the visit.

Thanks for reading!


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