Spring Forward at Graystone Gallery Edinburgh

Louis McNally, 'End of the Day', oil on board
Louis McNally, 'End of the Day', oil on board

Spring Exhibition

Wed - Fri 11:00 - 18:00, Sat 10:00 - 17:00, Sunday 12:00 - 16:00

From: 12 Apr 2024

To: 12 May 2024

Graystone Gallery
52 Hamilton Place
Edinburgh & the Lothians

Share this page

With a splash of colourful art, from flowers and fruit to city scenes and seascapes. the Spring Exhibition at Graystone Gallery in Edinburgh follows a theme of better days ahead, summer sunshine, flourishing nature and day trips to the beach, ‘an abundance of outstanding art… to present different perspectives, often bright and vibrant… the promise of renewal and relaxation.’ 

This is a selection of the most impressive highlights in this curated showcase of 23 artists with a diverse range of paintings, drawings and sculptures.  

Claire MacLellan has the perfect location for a studio overlooking Loch Lomond where she has lived for more than 34 years with her family and dogs. This wild open environment is the inspiration for landscape, still life, design and illustration. A quirky, colourful composition is Parrots, Books and Flowers with its eclectic choice of favourite things – parrots with a quizzical stare, purple coffee pot, freshly-picked daffodils, green pears, striped and spotted mugs, nature books, a lost orange.  This delightful domestic scene has a hint of Anne Redpath’s trademark ‘two dimensional’ perspective of a still life on a kitchen table. 

Claire MacLellan, 'Parrots, Books and Flowers', mixed media on board
Claire MacLellan, ‘Parrots, Books and Flowers’, mixed media on board

‘I enjoy using observation and imagination, re-interpreting the familiar to bring spontaneity, freshness and joy to my work’. – Claire MacLellan

This sense of spontaneity is again expressed in Bowls and fruit on pink, a joyous, jazzy jumble of pears, figs, grapes and orange as if tossed by a juggler in the air yet all decoratively placed within the square pink pattern.  

Claire MacLellan, 'Bowls and fruit on pink', mixed media on board
Claire MacLellan, ‘Bowls and fruit on pink’, mixed media on board

After a varied career from hat design to fundraising charity work, Nancy Chambers started painting professionally in 2019 and has exhibited her work alongside British artists like Grayson Perry, Antony Gormley, Maggie Hambling and Anish Kapoor. Here are stylised botanical studies of flowers in a vase, a fabulous flourish of crimson, coral and pink geometric shapes and slender stalks.  

Nancy Chambers, 'Summer Punch', acylic on board
Nancy Chambers, ‘Summer Punch’, acrylic on board

‘I aim to capture an essence rather than a literal interpretation. I make my own palette knives from recycled plastic for poppy paintings rich with striking colours, pared-back style and contemporary elegance.’ – Nancy Chambers

The smooth, thick layers of acrylic create the silky, velvety softness of delicate buds. Such lightness of touch, the almost transparent line of water and one solitary petal on the table.   

Nancy Chambers, 'A Breath of Fresh Air', acrylic on board
Nancy Chambers, ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’, acrylic on board

Louis McNally is renowned for his distinctive atmospheric paintings from city streets to low, flat farmland with a copse of tall trees on a hillside. Based on drawings, photographs and memories of a place, these landscapes are devoid of people, such as the heritage architecture of the Cowgate, Edinburgh. The focus is often about light and shadow as depicted so brilliantly in the tranquil scene, Water of Leith, with the reflection of trees on still water.  

Louis McNally, 'Water O Leith', oil on panel
Louis McNally, ‘Water of Leith’, oil on panel

Escape to the beach to observe the dwindling dusk in End of the Day, glorious gold sunshine against a pale blue sky, with a perfect perspective leading the eye to the far horizon.  

Louis McNally, 'End of the Day', oil on board
Louis McNally, ‘End of the Day’, oil on board

Allan J Robertson is also interested in observing cities, country and coastline, spaces and boundaries with a realistic sense of place. A fun day on the beach is the subject of two paintings – Beach Blues, a scattering of empty sunshades with just a trail of footprints in the sand. The same witty narrative in Gone for Ice-cream illustrating an abandoned deckchair, towel and picnic rug while the family has disappeared for cold refreshments. Bathed in a sharply-defined palette of blue, yellow, green, pink, the bold blocks for sea and sky emphasise the bright sunlight on this hot summer day. 

Allan J Robertson, 'Gone for Ice-cream', oil on canvas
Allan J Robertson, ‘Gone for Ice-cream’, oil on canvas

Summer in the garden is a time for buzzing bees and fluttering butterflies. The study of insects is incorporated in a series of exquisite figurative drawings by Gill Walton inspired by medieval reliquaries. These were often carved in wood and supposedly preserved the bones of long-dead saints or other fragments of religious importance.

These works are what I imagine future reliquaries to be…. the losses we will lament in the next millenia. They are beautiful and reverential pieces that contain actual mini-beasts and precious objects. They are gilded with 23-carat gold leaf and framed to archival standard with museum glass.’ – Gill Walton

Gill Walton, 'Reliquary Damselfly', graphite, beeswax, 23-carat gold leaf, bee and damselfly
Gill Walton, ‘Reliquary Damselfly’, graphite, beeswax, 23-carat gold leaf, bee and damselfly

Reliquary Damselfly features a sculptural drawing of a woman, primly dressed in a Puritan gown of the Middle Ages and the treasures of her sacred shrine. The theme is the preservation of nature with an actual damselfly, (a slender, twig-like dragonfly), in a gold pendant and an ornate bumble bee headband.  

During the Victorian period, insect jewels became fashionable when women began to wear beetle, butterfly and bee motifs on bracelets, brooches and rings. Art Deco jewellery of the early 20th century also featured lifelike insects adorned with colourful gemstones – the late Queen often wore a diamond and sapphire bee brooch. 

Traditionally, wearing the symbol of an insect near your heart on a brooch or necklace denotes a love of nature and the countryside. Butterfly jewellery is said to be about transformation and renewal, honey bees reflect their hardworking diligence, the colour and elegant symmetry of dragonflies create artistic designs, and scarab beetles are a symbol of good luck, associated with the Egyptian Sun-God Ra. 

Gill Walton uses fine graphite pencil, beeswax, layers of metal and other precious materials in these meticulous designs. In Reliquary Milons Swordtail, a young girl, her hair tightly wrapped in a scarf, has a serious, almost perturbed expression. Her treasured objects are an emerald green-blue patterned butterfly, protected within a miniature jewellery box, and a tiny glass vial of melted ice in the arched shape of an aureole.  

Gill Walton, 'Reliquary, Milons swordtail', graphite, beeswax, 23-carat gold leaf, glass vial of ice melt & Milons swordtail butterfly
Gill Walton, ‘Reliquary, Milons swordtail’, graphite, beeswax, 23-carat gold leaf, glass vial of ice melt & Milons swordtail butterfly

‘I always use the human form but these are not portraits, instead they reflect our own internal worlds… the layering of emotion and meaning into my carefully crafted compositions.’  – Gill Walton

While based on ancient religious iconography, Gill’s modern interpretation illustrates an emotional, personal sense of faith, belief and humanity. Behind the subtle, surreal imagery of these charming Reliquaries, the message is clear, protect all God’s species, our natural environment and oceans.  These enshrined ‘mini beasts,’ tiny, fragile, insects are so precious in the world of nature, beautifully reimagined as gold-leaf jewellery and decorative icons.  

On overview of the exhibition can be found on Graystone’s website (see panel, left)

The Gallery supports the Own Art finance scheme, which makes purchasing artworks more affordable through payment by instalments.

With thanks to Vivien Devlin for this review.

Share this page

Sign up for Artmag’s free weekly newsletter!

Join us every Friday morning for the latest art news, art openings, exhibitions, live performances, interviews and stories + top UK and international art destinations.