We are delighted to present a feature exhibition by one family. Catriona Campbell, Gwen Adair and Andrew Adair (2 painters and a ceramic artist) have never all exhibited together, despite being connected by ties of family, and shared philosophies in their work. Opportunity has never presented itself until now.
In painting, exploration of space happens in the illusory distances of a 2D surface, the negative spaces between figures, or the liminal spaces between reality and imagination. In ceramics, space is contained within the forms, and can be used to create relationships between them. This exhibition showcases 3 related artists who all agree that skill and craftsmanship must underpin creativity, and their art is achieved through expertise and love of materials as well as the act of making, and then making connections.
Catriona Campbell is well-known largely for figurative paintings, but is also a notable portrait painter. Her daughter, Gwen, sat for her on over 30 occasions, and whatever she learned about painting was through watching Catriona and through the conversations they had. This was a case of history repeating itself, as Catriona’s father was Ian Campbell, another celebrated artist, and he passed on much of his skill in the same way to Catriona. She attended Glasgow School of Art from 1957 – 61, where she was taught by, and indeed sat for, David Donaldson. Draughtsmanship was considered the bedrock of everything, and students learned the craft of painting. This skill and craftsmanship has remained an integral aspect of her work ever since. Her subjects come from her observation of the world around her – family holidays or world events; her love of horses; watching people at bus stops or at dances – and from her extraordinary visual imagination, conjuring exotic and impossible circuses.
Gwen Adair grew up in this culturally rich environment, and went to Glasgow School of Art in her turn, studying Graphic Design and Illustration from 1984 – 89. Around 2007 she took up painting, and has developed a range of figurative work, as well as birds and landscapes. Her training as an illustrator compels her to tell stories, and circuses feature here too, but in a more sinister aspect as she is attracted to their ‘otherness’. The gene for portraiture has also been inherited, and for both Catriona and Gwen, paint is important in and of itself. Painting is translating the world into coloured marks, with those marks being a vital element in their work. Gwen uses a palette knife in the late stages of a piece to create the surfaces which are essential to her.
Andrew Adair studied ceramics at Glasgow School of Art from 1984 – 87, after a foundation course in Carlisle. He met Gwen there, and they have been together since. Their work has developed side by side, and while there are huge differences in style, media and content, they share a love of surfaces, and a commitment to skill and craftsmanship. He was taught by the inspirational Alan Peascod, who passed on the importance of integrity and hard work, as well as skill. Andrew’s work is relentlessly experimental, but themes of letters reappear, as well as textures and distortion, whether he is working in 3D or 2D. He explores forms in hand-built and wheel-thrown works, using different clays and other materials, though often returning to an idea of the ‘potness’ of a pot. These are not functional pieces, but they understand their roots.
Alongside we have new work from Mhairi McGregor RSW, Helen Welsh, Gillian Westland and Brian Baxter and we welcome Alli Gray and Lynn Baxter to the gallery for the first time. We have the usual range of ceramics and glass including new glass maker Duncan Stewart and new work from ceramic artists Sandra Wallace and Hilke MacIntyre.