Henry Kondracki, 'Edinburgh Lovers', oil on canvas
I’ve just returned from a holiday in Edinburgh. I saw some great painting in the small commercial galleries dotted around Dundas Street in the New Town area of the city. I really loved an exhibition of paintings by Henry Kondracki at the Scottish Gallery. They had a real directness and honesty, with some terrific handling of oil paint. I haven’t been so excited about a painting exhibition in a long time. His atmospheric Edinburgh landscapes really moved me and took me back to the time I used to live and have a studio there between 1996-1999.
I love the city, and it will always have a special place in my heart as it is where I met my wife, Diane. I met lots of interesting artists and friends in the studio I was based in Gorgie in the West End. Many of them are doing really well now earning a living through their art. It always struck me that many of the students that left places like Edinburgh College of Art had a different attitude to their English counterparts, one of taking their craft more seriously in becoming professional artists and seeking out the many opportunities to be found in the commercial galleries in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The quality of work I saw was inspiring, but also depressed me when I thought of how little serious commercial galleries we have in Birmingham. What do we have? Number Nine? Come on…please!
Anyway, here are a few examples of work and links to a few of the artists and friends I was lucky enough to work alongside then…
Robert Maclaurin, 'Early Morning, Howqua River'.
oil on linen, 196 x 165cms, 2005
Donald Provan, 'Lochside', oil on panel, 90 x 120cms
Donald Provan, 'Blue Shoal', oil on metal, 45 x 70cms
Chris Bushe, 'Shimmering Light, Loch Roag', oil on canvasboard, 16 x 14 inches
Matthew Draper, 'Foggy Evening', pastel on paper, 45 x 90cms
Scottish art and literature has been an enduring influence on my own work and life ever since I was a student on Foundation Course years ago and discovered the work of artists such as Ken Currie and Peter Howson. It would be good to discuss this further in a future blog…