Online until 6th June
The Spring exhibition at Edinburgh’s Doubtfire Gallery, Water of Life by Euan McGregor can be viewed online. Distilleries often promote their brands of Scotch with iconic labels such as a stag or grouse to embrace our land and nature, uisge beatha, Water of Life.
Euan McGregor studied Printmaking at Glasgow School of Art and is now a landscape artist based on the Ayrshire coast. Inspired by the malt whisky industry, he toured Scotland to visit distilleries from Islay and Orkney to Moray and Wick to capture their unique settings from coastline to countryside – in acrylic paint on board, in the case of this exhibition.
‘I love the fact that these buildings often inhabit the wildest of places so the product is so synonymous with its geography … industrial cathedrals with specific shapes integral to the whisky-making process.’ Euan McGregor
On Islay, Bowmore is a quaint town on Loch Indaal with the distillery beside the harbour – its bold black-on-white signage historically guided puffer cargo boats safely into port. Bowmore Day is a well-crafted composition with the tall chimney akin to a lighthouse beside the beach creating such an atmospheric sense of place you can almost catch a whiff of the salt sea air.
Next stop is Caol Ila distillery at Port Askaig, Islay, another strong illustration emphasising the quiet waterside location. Sharply geometric in design, the white warehouse perched beside a blue block of sea shimmers in the sunlight against the square flatness of clifftop.
On the south coast of the island is Lagavulin, which opened in 1816. Moving away from a realistic representation, Lagavulin Detached is a fragmented illustration to depict the oblong, oval and triangles of the distillery, hill, sea, sky, like pieces of a jigsaw. The structure is rather like a print with its abstract, collage effect of shapes and space interlocked with a delicate palette.
Reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s urban landscapes, the focus for Old Pulteney, Wick is on solitary buildings and an empty road devoid of people and daily life. This tranquil scene has such precision of angles, purity of colour and filmic quality with shafts of light and shadow.
The semi-abstract painting Glenlivet has a stark winter mood with its icy-cold blue-white sheen, the minimalist design akin to a surreal sculpture amidst the bleak environment.
This is a captivating, truly spiritual exhibition which also includes a few seascapes from Gardenstown to St. Abbs with masterly perspective. Reminiscent of vintage travel posters, McGregor has an aesthetic painterly style, distilling a scenic view to create poignant reflections of iconic places. Romantic, nostalgic, timeless. Pour a glass of your favourite dram as you savour an evocative journey around Scotchland.
Image: St. Abbs, acrylic on board
With grateful thanks to Vivien Devlin for this review.