Issue 216
Spring 2021


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Jun 20, 2021

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ArtWork Newspaper Issue 216
Spring 2021 (7.8MB)

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The Castle Gallery, Inverness: Twenty years holding the fort

Will Maclean, one of twenty signed and numbered mixed media paintings on handmade paper

Inverness 1999: a town, said by some at the time, to be devoid of cultural aspirations. It was therefore a leap of faith when Denise Collins moved from Cambridge to Inverness to set up the Castle Gallery. After ten months of extensive renovation of the grade B listed building, the gallery opened on April 20, 2001.

It was unlike any other commercial art gallery in the Highlands because Denise brought with her a group of artists new to exhibiting in the north of Scotland. Paradoxically, many of these artists from her previous gallery, Cambridge Contemporary Art, were from Scotland, including Dorothy Stirling, June Carey and Michael Ross.

As the gallery in Inverness germinated a select few local artists were added to the stable including Gillian Jones, John McNaught and Jim Neville. The gallery was selected many times to take part in the prestigious Glasgow Art Fair in George Square, exhibiting and competing alongside the best from the Central Belt and further afield.

Over the last twenty years the gallery has adapted and changed, introduced new artists and organised nearly one hundred solo and joint exhibitions of work by artists from Scotland and throughout the U.K. To celebrate this milestone, twenty artists have been invited to respond to the theme of the number ‘20’ for a special exhibition to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Castle Gallery.

The artists include some of the gallery’s most long-standing exhibitors as well as personal favourites of the gallery owner. The artists are Blandine Anderson, Alan Baillie, Mychael Barratt, David Carter, Joe Davie, Linda Farquharson, Gillian Jones, Angie Lewin, Will Maclean, Shazia Mahmood, Helen Martino, Maureen Minchin, Ian McWhinnie, Trevor Price, Sally Ratcliffe, Will Shakspeare, Jonathan Shearer, Julia Smith, Katy Spong and Gareth Watson. They have responded to the brief in some truly spectacular, ingenious and creative ways.

Blandine Anderson’s stoneware sculptures are based on the old Gaelic vigesimal counting system i.e. counting in twenties; David Carter has created a 20th anniversary mantel clock, marking the passage of time and inscribed with the gallery logo and XX; Mychael Barratt has drawn twenty references from paintings by German artists working in the nineteen twenties and has also set the steeple clock to twenty past two in his etching ‘Life Imitating Art – Jermyn Street’; Trevor Price has made a suite of twenty drypoint and engraved prints to commemorate twenty years of the Castle Gallery and these are presented in a handmade box with a special dedication sheet.

Original prints have also been provided by Linda Farquharson and Angie Lewin, whose linocut, ‘February Snow’ is new and exclusive to the Castle Gallery. Both artists encourage the viewer to count the feathers to check that there are indeed twenty!

Paintings from Gareth Watson, Jonathan Shearer and Shazia Mahmood reference places they visited twenty years ago that have had a profound impact on their development as landscape artists.

Two artists who feature in Denise’s personal collection have created stunning work for this exhibition. Will Maclean has made twenty signed and numbered mixed media paintings on handmade paper which make use of whisky barrel stencils. Joseph Davie has combined painting with linocut to create striking images of swimmers, with one, ‘Onslaught’, half concealed by twenty elliptical dots.

Will Shakspeare has hand-blown twenty celebratory glass goblets as colourful and whacky as the artist himself and it is hoped that they will be filled with champagne on 20th April.

This 20th Anniversary Exhibition will open online at 10:00am on Saturday 24th April 2021 and from 26th April can be seen live at the Castle Gallery (subject to government restrictions) when the gallery re-opens after lockdown.


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