Torrance Gallery’s October show brings together works by two of Scotland’s esteemed artists, Shona Barr and Morag Muir. Their works are contrasting in terms of style and subject matter: Barr adopts a direct and bold approach to painting, employing thick brushstrokes and vibrant colours to depict the natural world, while Muir’s works, which draw inspiration from her studio environment, are highly decorative and stylised. Exhibiting these artists alongside one another serves to enhance the characteristic qualities of their works.
Shona Barr, who graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1988, aims to strike a balance between abstraction and representation in her paintings. Her featured oil on canvas paintings, the majority of which begin as watercolours painted en plein air, convey the likeness of her subjects using only essential brushstrokes and colour. Indeed, Barr demonstrates her excellent command of the canvas through her bold brushstrokes and striking palette used to represent her subjects which include flowers and landscapes.
Clematis represents her most recently produced work for the exhibition. Barr provides a magnified depiction of these tiny flowers found in her allotment, drawing the viewer into the painting for close-inspection of these beautiful flowers.
Alternatively, her landscape paintings, such as By the Oak Tree and Quiet Sea, offer panoramic views, inviting viewers to take a step back to wonder at their beauty. Both Barr’s flower paintings and landscapes share the same vibrancy of colour and energy which radiates from the canvas, making these highly collectable works a welcome tonic to the stresses of modern life.
Morag Muir studied Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee from 1978-1982. She then went on to complete postgraduate study and was awarded the John Muir Purvis Prize and travelling scholarship which financed her study abroad in Italy. Following university, Muir tutored at various colleges before making the decision to become a full-time artist in 2006. Today, Muir works from her studio in Newport-on-Tay in Fife. Her paintings provide abstract representations of an eclectic array of subjects found in this environment.
Highlights of the exhibition include The Window Table, Social Distance and Golden Elephant. An arched window (found in Muir’s home and reminiscent of her time spent in Italy) is a recurring motif in these works. These paintings also showcase her almost kaleidoscopic approach to composition and colour which lends a surreal, otherworldly quality to her work. Additionally, in these works one can appreciate the textural nature of Muir’s paintings as she often scratches into the paint to create detail.
In addition to these two enchanting artists, the exhibition (open until 17th October) also features works by several others including Dronma, Joe McIntyre and Fiona Millar.
With grateful thanks to Amy Miles for visiting and reviewing this exhibition.