Tuesday, 26 January 2016

RSW - Connections: Scotland and Italy

As I have a painting in the show, I thought it a good idea to go along to the Lillie Art Gallery in Milngavie to see this exhibition by the Royal Scottish Society for Painters in Watercolour, which is open for another few weeks until the 18th of February.

The Lillie is a lovely space, with several large airy, well-lit rooms.  The show itself is very impressive indeed, of a very high standard, with lots of big name Scottish artists demonstrating all manner of watercolour techniques.  it's well-hung, easy to read and beautifully presented.

The show was pleasingly well attended on the day that I went, which was great for a weekday afternoon (although I took the photos without including the people, to give you an idea of the space).

However, on striking up conversations with the visitors, I found that they, like myself, were somewhat baffled by the title of the show.  The catalogue sheds no light on the 'Scotland and Italy' theme, nor any introduction or background information on the Fabriano Collection.  What is it?  Who are the painters that are on show?  They weren't Italian, so what was it all about?  No-one had any idea.

When I submitted my piece, I thought very hard about the theme.  How to represent Scotland and Italy in one painting?  So I decided to go for a quintessentially Italian subject - and what could be more Italian and recognisable than the Colosseum, which I had recently revisited - and to paint it in a bold, Scottish style, with vigorous, expressive marks, lots of pattern-making, and vibrant colours in a restricted palette.  Allora - Scotland and Italy!

About 10% of the artists in the show seemed to have the same idea.  But, wondered the baffled visitors, what were the other 90% all about?  Where were the 'Connections'?

I had to agree.  Given that there was a bold and obvious theme, the actual content of the show seemed, whilst top notch, strangely unconnected.

Nevertheless, despite the furrowed brows of the public, they seemed to be very pleased with the show, and I would highly recommend a visit myself.  If you'd like to see a wide range of watercolour styles and water-based media, then you get along and look at a masterclass of contemporary Scottish work.

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