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Anne Redpath, Window In Menton, 1948 copyright The Artist’s Estate/Bridgeman Art Library. Courtesy Fleming-Wyfold Foundation

Anne Redpath, Window In Menton, 1948 copyright The Artist’s Estate/Bridgeman Art Library. Courtesy Fleming-Wyfold Foundation

Jerwood goes Scottish

There has long been a tradition of individuals following their love of art, collecting paintings, often with a common theme and then forming foundations. Two such Foundations, the Jerwood and the Scottish Fleming–Wyfold have banded together to show work by specific artists featured in their two collections. HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths went along to see how the two collections blended together.

Increasingly, foundations like to have their collections under their own roof, to keep them in-house rather than loaning them out to exhibitions or national museums. This way they can show off their art and attract the public to them.

One well known collector is Charles Saatchi who boasts a large Gallery in London. There are also corporate art collections housed in company buildings, but many of the collections are born of a personal passion and, frequently, a specific genre or theme of art. The Jerwood Foundation is founded on the Collection of John Jerwood, pearl dealer. Formed in 1977, the Hastings Gallery opened in 2015 and concentrates on British art of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The Fleming–Wyfold Foundation was established by a banking family, Robert Fleming & Co and is dedicated to Scottish painters and Scottish landscapes. The collection was curated by David Donald.

John Bellany The Herring Fishers © Sam Roberts

John Bellany The Herring Fishers © Sam Roberts

The recent Jerwood Gallery exhibition ostensibly presents similar Scottish artists shared by the two Foundations. It has been interestingly curated and hung; hanging the same artist’s work side by side or shared themes –  religious, landscape, workers, still life. Artists chosen from their collections are Craigie Aitchison, Anne Redpath, John Bellany, William George Gillies and Wilhelmina Barnes, as well as other Scottish painters.

It is an attractive exhibition, some of it easy on the eye, parts rather more challenging. Peter Howson’s, The Fleet, portrays strong, visceral working class figures; a huggermugger of  strong physical bodies, bull necks, hefty limbs, hands and primitive faces.

In contrast, John Bellany, The Herring Fishers, a calmer picture of men more comfortable in their skin, quietly exuding confidence in themselves and their fishing and sailing skills. Rather affectingly, he described the life of the herring fishermen as ‘despite the conditions, their religious faith and the mystery of creation, which they saw every day at sea … carried them through and with every catch and with every shole of herring caught, silver darlings, they paid tribute to their great God. It was an act of worship.’

Crucifixion Craigie Aitchison © Sam Roberts

Crucifixion Craigie Aitchison © Sam Roberts

In fact, religion plays quite a part in the exhibition. Craigie Aitchison’s spare, graphic images, landscapes painted with deep colour backgrounds of blues, greens and reds. He frequently depicts crucifixions or biblical reminiscent landscapes, often with his much loved Bedlington dog. Sometimes mistaken as a sheep, due to its greyish colouring and shape, the dog stands by, watching on. Aitchison has said that he painted the dogs to appear upset and concerned – “as if amazed and horrified by what they see”. His paintings are normally static, but in this exhibition there is a rather poignant image of the dog, Wayney Going To Heaven, floating in the sky, legs turned upwards to meet his Maker.

© Sam Roberts

© Sam Roberts

A Craigie Aitchison of St Francis – the patron saint of animals and the environment – is hung alongside John Bellany’s, The Ettrick Shepherd. Both imposing figures, St Francis gently hugging some birds to him. The Shepherd holds a crook, a strong shadow extends eerily stretching behind him, stares slightly askance, while three, shaggy, horned sheep with curled horns, gaze laconically directly out of the picture. Two different atmospheres. Bellany’s  shepherd was inspired by the author, James Hogg, whose nickname was the Ettrick Shepherd. The book, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner 1824, is about the struggles of a young Scot around the 1700s against madness, evil and possession.

Then there is a grouping of still lives: Anne Redpath, tranquil, pastel shades, decorative of homely scenes, a van Gogh like chair, a pink table and one of her daughter-in-law, looking out towards the hills and church. In contrast, Sir Robin Philipson’s, Compotoir of Red Apples is a study of rich reds.  There is something for everyone: little gems, great portrayal of strong characters, gentler paintings giving pause for thought – which all add up to more than a sum of their parts.

Exhibition runs until 12 July, 2015 at the Jerwood Gallery, Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings, TN34 3DW.                                                                                 Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday 11am – 5pm (and Bank Holiday Mondays)




Posted 12:12 Saturday, May 2, 2015 In: Visual Arts

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