Object(S) of the week

We have had a very unusual Easter this year. Many of us would normally have been out and about enjoying longer lighter spring days. As this has been much more difficult recently, our blog post this week focuses on some of the landscape pictures in the permanent collection.
We hope you enjoy this vicarious trip into the great outdoors.

All of the pictures featured here are part of one of our current exhibitions. In keeping with the Art Collection’s environmental theme, we this year decided to ‘liberate’ from our store a range of landscape paintings and prints to exhibit in the Crush Hall (shown above). Entitled ‘Liberating Landscapes’, it shows a great variety of artists, major and minor, all collected by the Art Collection over the past 50 years. The exhibition represents a diverse assortment, but what they all have in common is a celebration of our natural surroundings.

‘In Glenisla’ by WG Gillies (above) was one of the first works acquired by the brand new Art Collection in 1967. Gillies’s work portrays changing skies and Scottish landscapes and was painted outdoors. It shows the influence of Edvard Munch and Emil Nolde.

‘East Coast Harbour’ (below) was purchased in the same year. It is by David McClure who taught in the Summer School at Hospitalfield House in the mid 1960s, and this painting is based on a drawing from a sketchbook from that time, with depictions of the fishing port of Arbroath, with its harbour, fishermen’s houses and the fish-smoking sheds that still produce the well-known Arbroath Smokie.

Hetty Haxworth‘s screenprint ‘Grey fields and yellow flowers’ shown below was one of two purchased for the Collection in 2019. The artist says she is inspired by the everchanging colours and shapes of the Aberdeenshire landscape. ‘As the countryside alters with the seasons, the work responds to transient shifts of light, capturing moments in colour. Regular furrows and pylon lines provide stripes, ploughed fields provide a colourful patchwork, and framing this scene are the man-made structures, the rigid lines of fences and the cattle barns, turning the landscape into a geometric study’.

Two of the works in this display are known to have been painted views from the artist’s window. ‘Shore line’ by Kirkland Main was apparently lucky enough to have had this view of the Firth of Forth from his house at Cramond.

David Michie said “…most of my work is autobiographical and is akin to keeping a diary. I like the triviality of ordinary things and the potential they have to become extraordinary and to mean something”, and this work below is most likely from a series of works executed by David Michie c.1967-69 in which the front room of his house in Edinburgh, as well as the view from the window, features prominently.

Another of David Michie’s works in the collection however transports us far from home. ‘Black cockatoo’ (below) has an exotic feel that gets us dreaming of travel to faraway places.

Similarly ‘Corfu Cliffs’ allows us to escape from our living rooms and imagine future holidays in warmer climes. It was painted by Alison McKenzie.

In recent years there has been increased discussion regarding access to art collections. Much of the art in public ownership in the UK is hidden away in storerooms. Lack of wall space, and past collecting policies which might not chime with current taste, mean that many works remain tucked away in the dark.

This exhibition was curated with these thoughts in mind, and we hope that very soon Pathfoot will reopen and you will be able to come and enjoy these ‘liberated’ works once again. Meanwhile however, you can discover much more on the Art Collection’s recently launched online catalogue.
Visit collections.stir.ac.uk to find out more.

‘Rhum and Eigg’ by James Morrison (Oil on board, 1983)
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