Open Daily 1st July to 31st August 2006
Five Caithness artists
Sheila Butler, Alice Calder, Lyn Leet, Barbara Myatt, Joan Powell
Caithness is perhaps just a starting point in the work of this talented group of artists drawn together by mutual friendship and support rather than by a shared aesthetic. Consequently as a group show, this exhibition offers a rich diversity as each artist has her own distinctive voice and subject matter.
David brings to the task of depicting our landscape the keen eye of a graphic designer and successful professional ceramicist, able to see subtle form and pattern in the simplest of things and tease out the richest colours just waiting to be discovered beneath the surface.
David was born in Twickenham, England in 1947. He studied illustration at Twickenham College and worked in various London advertising agencies and design studios for ten years before his move to Caithness, in the Highlands, with his wife Sally to set up Scarfskerry Pottery in 1977. In 1987 the pottery was moved to John O’ Groats and subsequently renamed John O’ Groats Pottery and Gallery where he now has his studio. Although still a potter David is now devoting most of his time to painting which has always run concurrent with his ceramics.
David trained as an illustrator but working in London as a graphic designer has probably had the biggest influence on his work as a painter. He paints naturalistically and in more colourist abstract styles. His images have evolved over the years and can now be more graphic in appearance. The Highland landscape is his main source of inspiration. In Caithness the landscape and weather are all pervasive. Selected elements are used to express the feeling of certain terrain, weather and light conditions in a variety of styles.
“The Red Shoes” is a stunning painting project by a gifted Glasgow artist based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. A group of twenty vivid paintings and drawings leads us through the scary moral tale in which young Karen pays the price for craving a pair of red shoes. In this version the story moves to a flamenco scenario with its fusion of passion and pain.
“I like nothing better than sitting on a train sketching the fabulous array of human life that I can see from my seat onto the back of discarded train tickets. I see past the obvious kitsch of Route 66 and instead I produce paintings to explore my fascination of what has become of these once grand towns. Old folk chatting in the outdoor pool, a lady blowing bubbles at a wedding, the less obvious beauty and intricacy of flowers – this is the life that I notice.”
This jeweller makes attractive and highly desirable work which he likes to think of as paintings to be worn rather than applied art. He uses acrylic, anodised aluminium, silver, stainless steel and gold leaf to great effect.
“My jewellery is made from acrylic and anodised aluminium. The findings are handmade from silver or surgical stainless steel. Colour is high quality acrylic paint with gold and silver leaf..
My interests are in fine art rather than the applied arts. By this I mean I work with my sense and sensibilities and avoid working to pattern. My design is in the shape I give my jewellery. I like to think about my paintings being worn as jewellery by my client.”
FaceNorth is an exciting collaborative community arts project taking place across Caithness during 2006.
“FaceNorth” visual arts residency is jointly run by Northlands Creative Glass and Lyth arts Centre. Funded by the Scottish arts Council and Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise agency it is one of the biggest visual and community artist residencies of its kind. The residency artists who spend 50% of their time on their own work and 50 % of their time developing relationships with communities through outreach art workshops. The project gives community groups with little or no arts experience the chance to engage with the professional artists creating artworks with a shared sense of ownership and local identity. Areas chosen for the artists to work in are Wick, Thurso and Lybster & Dunbeath. The residency started on 6th Febuary and culminates with an exhibition of works, both own and community, at Lyth arts centre on 3rd July.
Kate Williams from London works in glass. Her focus will be to develop glass works that reflects the industrial processes of the Dounreay nuclear facility, whilst drawing on experiences of her time in Caithness.
Shelagh Swanson is a local artist from Bower who makes artwork assemblages from found objects and images that are relevant to place, past and present and people that occupied the said time.
Janis Mackay from Edinburgh, Scotland is a poet, writer, storyteller and voice teacher. She has an MA in Creative Writing and Personal Development and is currently working on her first collection of poetry, inspired by the land and a sense of place. During the residency in Caithness Janis hopes to find inspiration in the land and seascapes of the far north and to produce a small collection of poetry from and for Caithness. She also hopes to support people in the area with their own creative writing and to put together a collection of poetry where the many different voices of people in Caithness can find expression.
Over the past several weeks they have been doing outreach art workshops with young people, ladies groups and after school groups in Wick, developing partnerships with community programmes like the Pultneytown Peoples Project and Wick Youth Club facilitated through Highland Councils Learning & Leisure Dept. The emphasis has been to encourage learning through fun practical activities. One young peoples group at Wick Youth Club has been working on a ‘Scrap Heap Challenge’ project; taking apart old televisions and transforming them into contemporary sculptures to examine the way we perceive television and its influence on modern society. All the Wick groups have visited the excellent Northlands Glass studios in Lybster and sampled the delights of making etched and fused glass . Kate William’s explained “The technique of making fused glass involves combining metal foils, wire and coloured glass pieces sandwiched between sheets of clear glass which are then kiln fired “. The culmination of the work produced in Wick can be seen at an exhibition at Lyth Arts centre starting on the 3rd July.
Lyth Arts Centre, sign-posted 4 miles off the A99 between John 0’ Groats & Wick
open daily 12- 5pm, 1st July to 31st August ‘06