The Scottish Gallery Edinburgh’s Bold Visions

David Cass, 'June 29th', oil on antique tin
David Cass, 'June 29th', oil on antique tin

Title:
Contemporary

Times:
Tue - Fri 11:00 - 18:00, Sat 11:00 - 14:00

From: 2 Feb 2023

To: 25 Feb 2023

Venue:
The Scottish Gallery
16 Dundas Street
Edinburgh
Edinburgh & the Lothians
EH3 6HZ

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This inspirational exhibition brings together ‘seven artists in recognition of the strength and depth of their artistic talent, the range of their contemporary practice which encompasses sculpture, installation and painting’. 

David Cass displays an extraordinary collection entitled 100 Days, featuring 100 antique tin boxes, each transformed into a miniature seascape. These ancient salvaged tins include Carr’s biscuits, and (what looks like), slender sardine tins and square snuff boxes. The dimension of each tiny antique tin thus gives varying perspectives but what is the dominant focus on the central horizon. The aim is to raise awareness of climate change and rising sea levels.  

As the project spans a year, the weather changes with the date. February 20th presents the clarity of a cool winter day, a cloudy streak across the sky and white wind-blown surf.    

David Cass, 'February 20th', oil on antique tin
David Cass, ‘February 20th’, oil on antique tin

The simple yet atmospheric scene on June 29th evokes warm sunshine, wispy clouds and calm waves, drawing the eye to the horizon. 

David Cass, 'June 29th', oil on antique tin
David Cass, ‘June 29th’, oil on antique tin

A dark moody seascape on September 18th, with a threatening rainstorm has such textural detail.   

David Cass, 'September 18th', oil on antique tin
David Cass, ‘September 18th’, oil on antique tin

David Cook is renowned for vibrant paintings of his garden overlooking the seashore – Kincardineshire through the seasons. As well as summer blossom, here are a few seascapes viewed in wild weather. The thick layer of oils depicts rough waves in a blast of wind blowing over the North Sea. 

David Cook, 'Sea III', oil on canvas
David Cook, ‘Sea III’, oil on canvas

Kate Downie is a keen observer of the urban environment including impressive paintings of the Forth bridges and the construction the new St. James Quarter. Travelling over the Forth Bridge is the subject of two narrative paintings which tell a personal story. Home Soon x (crossing Fife) – the title taken from the text the woman is presumably sending as she travels home on a dark night – detailing the paint palette and her concentration as she types the message on her phone.   

Kate Downie, 'Home Soon X (Crossing Fife)' oil on wood panel
Kate Downie, ‘Home Soon X (Crossing Fife)’ oil on wood panel

A more humorous portrait is The Girl with Purple Hair, having a nap while listening to music, as the train crosses the Forth Bridge with its lattice structure of rust-red iron girders.

Kate Downie, 'The Girl with Purple Hair (Crossing the Forth)' oil on wood panel
Kate Downie, ‘The Girl with Purple Hair (Crossing the Forth)’ oil on wood panel

Travel American-style in Upon a Time, (Route 66) presents the driver’s view of the stream of cars and trucks across the sun-burnt desert heading west to California and reflecting, as Downie comments, ‘Kerouacian references’. “Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life. Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, on the road”. – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Kate Downie, 'Upon a Time (Route 66)', 2017, oil on canvas
Kate Downie, ‘Upon a Time (Route 66)’, 2017, oil on canvas

Staying at home is the theme of Christine McArthur’s domestic scenes, flowers in a vase or a view out of the window to the trees outside. Lemons in a Winter Garden is a crisp composition in which the bright yellow lemons, almost dancing in mid-air, add a burst of sunshine against the flat grey table.  

Christine McArthur, 'Lemons in a Winter Garden', mixed media on panel
Christine McArthur, ‘Lemons in a Winter Garden’, mixed media on panel

Like an impressionistic twist on Cezanne’s Still Life Jug and Fruits (1894) is a decorative design of a bowl of clementines, pears and plant pot, richly textured in muted shades of mustard, terracotta and sage green. 

Christine McArthur, 'Georgian Butterflies', mixed media on panel
Christine McArthur, ‘Georgian Butterflies’, mixed media on panel

Inspired by both the lyrical landscape and literature of Italy, where he now lives, Calum McClure seeks to capture the tranquil countryside and culture. Like a hazy photograph, The Gulf of Trieste from the Train is a moody scene, the lingering glow of sunset so dreamlike on the calm water with a cool blue luminosity.   

Calum McClure, 'The Gulf of Trieste From The Train', oil on canvas
Calum McClure, ‘The Gulf of Trieste From The Train’, oil on canvas

Richard Goldsworthy has a studio at Marchmont House, Scottish Borders, where he crafts natural timber, often sourcing wood from storm-damaged trees, salvaging it into shapely sculptures. Unearthed is a tall structure with twisting branches bringing the woodland indoors as an art installation. 

Richard Goldsworthy, 'Unearthed 2021', part charred lime
Richard Goldsworthy, ‘Unearthed 2021’, part charred lime

There are many small, polished wood pieces. Pebble III is like a slice from a willow tree trunk, the bark burnt black with natural furrows and fissures, all smooth and flat. 

Richard Goldsworthy, 'Pebble series III', part charred willow
Richard Goldsworthy, ‘Pebble series, III’, part charred willow

Pebble XII is beautifully carved and sanded into a tactile, oval shape, accentuating the deep cracks through the grain, while the two charred ends create a flowing, circular wave effect.  

Richard Goldsworthy, 'Pebble series, X11', part charred willow
Richard Goldsworthy, ‘Pebble series, XII’, part charred willow

Doug Cocker also reflects the environment and landscape with imaginative vision in his wood sculpture. Figure in a Landscape is like an abstract scene in which the pliable wood and grain pattern has been moulded to express, perhaps, a person standing beside a lake under towering mountain peaks.  

Doug Cocker, 'Figure in a Landscape', wood
Doug Cocker, ‘Figure in a Landscape’, wood

A true craftsman, he is able to transform and shape hard wood into delicate sculptured designs. An intriguing series called Musica Universalis features meticulously0-crafted wooden ‘jigsaw’ shapes, hoops and matchsticks with a sense of jagged, jazzy rhythm and movement.   

Doug Cocker, 'Musica Universalis I', wood
Doug Cocker, ‘Musica Universalis I’, wood

With grateful thanks to Artmag contributor Vivien Devlin for this review.

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