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Perspectives

Your place to explore new perspectives on British art from 1900 to now. Through interviews, films, image galleries and essays, we uncover the creative lives of the people behind the art on our walls.

Celebrating Scottish Art

[ News )

We have been working with our friends over at the Lightbox Gallery, Woking, to explore our shared passion for Scottish art inspired by their new exhibition – A Window into Scottish Art: The Ingram & Fleming Collections.

Exploring the history of Scottish Art, the exhibition will include paintings, drawings, sculpture and collage by artists such as Samuel John Peploe, George Leslie Hunter, Ken Currie, Peter Howson, Eduardo Paolozzi, William Gear and William Crozier.

Many of these brilliant artists are also represented in the Pallant House Gallery collection and will be explored in more detail below.

Samuel John Peploe (1871-1935), Luxembourg Gardens

Born in Edinburgh, the son of a banker, Peploe had split his training between Edinburgh’s Trustees Academy and the Academie Julien in Paris.

In 1905, Peploe and his great friend JD Ferguson were blown away by the impact of Les Fauves, a movement in French art that means “Wild Beasts.” The artists in the movement focused on colour, and the impact it could have on a viewer; as opposed to traditional art movements that focused on form and structure.

His high risk move to Paris in 1910 with his wife and new-born son transformed his artistic vision.

A graphic version of Luxembourg Gardens appeared in the avant-garde journal ‘Rhythm’ alongside a drawing by Pablo Picasso. Peploe’s brave new works were dismissed as raucous by his Edinburgh dealer, who sacked him from his roster.

Samuel John Peploe (1871-1935), Luxembourg Gardens, c. 1910, Oil on panel, © The Fleming Collection

Ken Currie (b. 1960) To Live and To Work (no. 307)

Born in North Shields to Scottish parents, Ken Currie trained at Glasgow School of Art, graduating in 1983 as one of the leaders of a new generation of accomplished figurative painters. Two years later along with five other GSA trained artists, including Peter Howson, they were shown as a group in the exhibition titled ‘New Image Glasgow’ at the Third Eye Centre. Currie went on to revive history painting in a cycle of work charting the socialist story of the City for the People’s Palace museum.

In the 1980s the city was facing the full impact of the closing of heavy industries, such as mining, shipbuilding, steel and textiles and the impact that was having socially on Glasgow, which had been one of the greatest and richest cities on the planet in the 19th century, became one of dereliction and despair.

Currie viewed life in Glasgow with an unflinching eye, addressing in this work the numbness of despair in work without dignity.

Painting of a hum face with pale skin and dark eyes on black background

Ken Currie, Human Face, To Work and Live, 1995, Oil on canvas, The Ingram Collection, © Ken Currie

William Turnbull (1922-2012) Heavy Insect, 1949

Having served as an RAF pilot during the war, in 1947 Turnbull enrolled in the painting department of The Slade School of Fine Art in London. Being older and more experienced than the rest of the students, Turnbull became disillusioned with the painting course and transferred to the sculpture department, where he met Eduardo Paolozzi and Nigel Henderson.

Sharing a flat with Eduardo Paolozzi in Paris, they looked up Alberto Giacometti in the telephone directory. Meeting Giacometti, left an indelible impression on Turbull’s work.

Heavy Insect with its stick-like forms springs from Giacometti’s example, but with Turnbull’s unique slant on life. Its form took shape from his close-up observations of insects in long grass, the sculpture can be seen as reflecting Turnbul’s interest in Kafka’s novel, ‘Metamorphosis’, in which a character morphs into an insect, gave it an existential twist.

Bronze sculpture of an insect with two front legs a long cylindrical body and six spikes along back

William Turnbull, Heavy Insect, 1949, Bronze, The Ingram Collection © Estate of William Turnbull. All rights reserved, DACS 2016.

William Crozier (1897-1930) The Slopes of Fiesole/ Edinburgh from Castle Street, 1930

Crozier was a painter, printmaker and teacher. He studied at the Edinburgh College of Art, where he won several prizes for drawing and painting, before heading to Paris to study at the Académie Julian from 1921-23. Crozier often travelled back and forth between France and Italy, which is reflected in his work.

Over the years he developed a love for landscapes, both cityscapes and coastal scenes, but he also created some portraits as well. Crozier always lived on the edge and at the age of 33, died from complications related to his haemophilia.

This two-sided panel can be read as an illustration of the divided self of the Scots: on one side, you see a view of Edinburgh from Castle Street, in ink and wash; on the other side is a painting of The Slopes of Fiesole. Both paintings are bold, vibrant and full of life.

At The Lightbox Gallery you can walk around the work and explore each side. It’s an incredible piece that highlights the influence of the Scottish climate on their temperament, especially for those artists in search of light.

William Crozier (1893-1930), ‘The Slopes of Fiesole’, 1930, Ink and Wash, (c) The Fleming Collection

William Crozier (1893-1930), ‘Edinburgh From Castle Street’, 1930, Ink and Wash, (c) The Fleming Collection

Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005) Mr Cruikshank, 1950

The devastating effects of war on humanity are often explored in art, but few artists have been able to convey the sense of dread and despair like Eduardo Paolozzi. His work Mr Cruikshank is a prime example.

Paolozzi experienced the devastating consequences of war first hand. He lost his Italian-Scottish father, who ran an ice cream shop in Edinburgh, his grandfather and uncle when their ship carrying internees to Canada was torpedoed. The threat from the Cold War and nuclear annihilation triggered the idea for Mr Cruikshank. Paolozzi named the work after a robotic dummy created in the laboratories of Massachusetts Institute of Technology to test the human capacity to withstand radiation.

Paolozzi’s early fame sprang from his inclusion in the 1952 Venice Biennale exhibition of contemporary British sculpture, which leading critic Herbert Read described as the ‘Geometry of Fear’.

Eduardo Paolozzi, Mr. Cruikshank, 1950, The Ingram Collection © The Estate of Eduardo Paolozzi, Image courtesy JP Bland Photography

William Gear (1915-1997) St Ives, 1948

In 1947 Gear visited the artists’ colony of St Ives, where he met the upcoming generation of abstract painters, including Terry Frost, Patrick Heron, Roger Hilton and Peter Lanyon. By 1950, Gear had emerged as a purely abstract painter, characterised by brooding tones and dark frameworks. St Ives was a sign of work to come.

Gear’s early paintings were heavily influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and their love of symbolism. His later works are known for their bold use of colour and strong geometric shapes.

Abstract painting with green, red and blue triangles and black lines

William Gear, St Ives, 1948, Watercolour and wax crayon, The Ingram Collection, © The Estate of the Artist

A Window into Scottish Art is an exhibition drawn from two complementary collections, The Ingram and Fleming Collections. The Ingram Collection is now recognised as one of this country’s most significant, and publicly accessible, collections of Modern British Art, and the Fleming Collection is considered the finest collection of Scottish art outside public institutions.

This fascinating exhibition is set to run until 3 July 2022.

The Lightbox is a multi-functional arts centre in the heart of Woking. They aim to bring the best of contemporary art to the community, with four stunning galleries hosting a huge range of exhibitions, changing regularly.

Their main gallery space is currently showing these six important artists and many more in A Window into Scottish Art. Find out what else is currently on and what’s coming up next at thelightbox.org.uk.