Thursday, 20 February 2014

Artwork at Drumbrae Care Home, Edinburgh House is a new state-of-the-art, 60 bed care home commissioned by the City of Edinburgh Council and built just last year off Ardshiel Avenue. 

Staff and residents, along with their relatives and members of the local community, voted from a list of four potential names with Drumbrae House being the clear winner.

A beautiful home like this needed beautiful artwork so Graham Construction very kindly sponsored the rental of 26 original works of art from the Art in Healthcare Collection to be displayed in the home for the enjoyment of the staff, residents and visitors. 
Here are the artworks selected by the staff and you can click on any of the images to find out more about the artist, their inspirations and their artistic processes.

Thank you once again to Graham Construction for their generous contribution.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Artist Uncovered: Iain Stewart

Close and connected

With pure luminosity reflecting on dark matter and vast expanses of sky, sea and land, Iain Stewart’s photographs have a dream-like quality that hovers on the threshold of consciousness. Are these balanced compositions the product of hours of digital wizardry? The answer is definitely not as I discover that this artist works only with film cameras for his Fine Art photography. 

Eve  30 x 40 cm
image courtesy of the artist

This means that all decisions regarding composition and light are made at the shooting stage as there will be no cropping, erasing or any other kind of image manipulation later, just nature’s magic captured at the right moment and from the right viewpoint.

Such perfect timing is hardly down to luck. Instead it relies on the artist’s thorough knowledge of the terrain, weather conditions and seasonal fluctuations and on his profound connection with the landscape.

Path 98   60 x 60 cm
AiH Collection

And indeed Iain Stewart needs that emotional trigger. His landscapes are either familiar places he frequents often or special places that he empathises with immediately, like Cape Wrath. Born in Yorkshire of Scottish parents who were both doctors, he regularly visited Scotland while growing up, loved it and always knew that this was where he would eventually settle down.

Closing   90 x 90 cm
image courtesy of the artist

He chose to study textile design at Edinburgh College of Art in the 1980s but was always drawn towards painting and photography which was not yet a full curriculum, and inspired by great photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank. He was however able to do a Master degree in photography, the only student on the course, and this is where he learnt his skills from his tutor and mentor Murray Johnson. This somewhat circuitous approach taught him not to let technicality get in the way and hinder his creativity.

Sound   76 x 100 cm
image courtesy of the artist

He recalls that his first body of work was a series of portraits of his father’s patients from the newly born to the terminally ill. This assignment proved to be a determining experience that made him aware of that special connection between practitioner and patient. It was also to bring him some important commissions from the medical field later in his career. 
Stewart’s commercial practice is in complete contrast with his Fine Art photography. Not only is it all digital but also, while his landscapes are very quiet and devoid of the human figure, his commissioned works are all about people and Stewart recognises that one could not exist without the other.

Tender   76 x 100 cm
image courtesy of the artist

They are opposite and at the same time share the same process. In both cases the artist gets closer and closer to his subject and this closeness together with the removal of all superfluous information, combine to deliver a universal message. His images are not about that particular horizon or that particular patient but about that fleeting and all enveloping moment when connectivity and healing can happen.

Spindrift   30 x 40 cm
image courtesy of the artist

Iain Stewart has works in the Sanctuary of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, a non-denominational space for reflection and prayer where his meditative and immersive seascapes fittingly welcome visitors, drawing them in with uninterrupted lines and colours.

He exhibits widely at home and abroad and is represented in many collections including that of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
He is currently working towards a solo exhibition to be shown in the autumn in the Wild Space, the John Muir Trust visitor centre in Pitlochry.

Martine Foltier Pugh is a freelance writer and visual artist based in Edinburgh

With thanks to Iain Stewart

For further information

Iain Stewart's website and blog:
The Sanctuary, The Royal Infirmary Edinburgh: 
The Wild Space: 

And special thanks to Balfour Beatty Investments and Arts & Business Scotland for their financial support, which has enabled Art in Healthcare to produce 18 Artist Uncovered blog posts and accompanying video productions.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Artist Uncovered: Eòghann Mac Coll

A sense of place

Eòghann Mac Coll settles down after a frustrating drive through Glasgow’s afternoon rush hour, an experience far removed from the quiet landscapes and the empty roads of his paintings.

Doonfeeney Dialogue  acrylic on canvas, 96 x 96 cm
image courtesy of the artist

His expressionist works have a weight and breadth that exceed their relatively small canvasses where solid blocks of paint are often juxtaposed with man made structures.  Their linearity suggests the abstract and yet the elements are recognisable: standing stones, roads, buildings, all familiar and strange at the same time. People may be absent from the picture but their presence, past or recent, is strongly felt. What deep emotions run beneath the visible narrative?

Tjornuvik acrylic, 57 x 58 cm 
AiH Collection

Mac Coll explains the defining moments that have informed his practice. 

First the 1987 exhibition ‘The Vigorous Imagination’ showcasing new Scottish art, sealed young Eòghann’s future by showing him what positive difference art could make at a time when Scotland’s economy and traditional industries were collapsing.

Later a series of journeys were crucial in forming his sense of identity. 

In the days of grant-funded education, he was able to study art in England and Scotland and go on an exchange to Barcelona where he not only experienced at first hand the works of Catalan abstract expressionists Joan Mirò and Antoni Tàpies but also the distinctive and proud Catalan culture that revived his interest in his own Gaelic heritage.

13 acrylic on canvas, 51 x 61 cm
image courtesy of the artist

When he returned to Scotland, he decided to research the megaliths or standing stones that had been his ancestor Alexander Thom’s passion. His quest took him to the margins of Scotland’s mainland and islands, drawing for hours and learning about his great grandfather’s work. This proved a tough mathematical challenge but it made him realise that those who created the stone formations had a highly sophisticated knowledge of astronomy and were part of a network reaching far beyond these shores. 
Because the stones have Gaelic names, Mac Coll started learning the language, an arduous task in itself, but characteristic of his commitment to finding his own sense of place.

Earagail le Bòthar * mixed media on paper, 30 x 30 cm
image courtesy of the artist

Through the palpable solitude of his paintings evocative of his lonely road trips, the artist asks us to consider with him where we are coming from and where we are going, and what remoteness really means, remote for whom and from what? Isn’t our perception of remoteness a subjective marker of our centralised society?

In 2005, he received the prestigious Alastair Salvesen Art Scholarship award and embarked on a journey to the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Canada, opting to leave Scotland northward, an experience he strongly recommends, enjoying many more long car journeys and meeting people perfectly comfortable with their ‘remoteness’.
More recently his residencies in Ballinglen Arts Foundation in County Mayo have strengthened his Gaelic identity which he brings into his paintings and digital works.

Taibhse * * mixed media 
image courtesy of the artist

Nowadays, life is very busy for Mac Coll between his young family and work. He paints during what he calls “‘stolen’ studio time”, the perfect scenario for this artist who loves the way paint works for him when applied under pressure and almost in a frenzy. 

Future plans involve testing himself further with much larger canvasses, three metres by two metres, a scale of such proportions that he will feel at one with the landscape.

Martine Foltier Pugh is a freelance writer and visual artist based in Edinburgh

With thanks to Eòghann Mac Coll

Further information:

*   Earagail le Bòthar   'Road with Earagail'

** Taibhse  'Place where a person once was'

The 1987 exhibition 'The Vigorous Imagination' signaled a renewal in Scottish art and featured among others Adrian Wiszniewski whose 'Artist Uncovered' article was published in this blog in May 2013.


Eòghann Mac Coll's website

And special thanks to Balfour Beatty Investments and Arts & Business Scotland for their financial support, which has enabled Art in Healthcare to produce 18 Artist Uncovered blog posts and accompanying video productions.