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Issue 34 - Art in the east

Scotland Magazine Issue 34
August 2007

 

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Art in the east

This issue, Roddy Martine visits the Stenton Gallery in East Lothian

The small, picturesque village of Stenton lies in the heart of rural East Lothian on Scotland’s south east coast. It is located four and a half miles from Dunbar, off the A1 and in 1969, this gem of a place gained the status of an Outstanding Conservation Area.

Once an agricultural settlement, the name Stenton means ‘stone town,’ and weekly cattle and sheep markets were held here between 1681 and 1862. At one end of the main street is a surprisingly large gothic parish church designed by the architect William Burn in 1829, and, at the other end, the small but vibrant Stenton Gallery, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Admittedly, this is not where you might expect to find a top-of-the-range art gallery, but in such an unexpected rural setting, only a 35 minute drive from Edinburgh, it fits into the character of the place as if it were built for purpose. Aformer shop, then village pub, making use of the old school playground as a car park, its artistic evolution began as the Macaulay Gallery in 1980, showing works by the likes of Sir Robin Philipson and Elizabeth Blackadder.

However, in 1997, when its founder and owner, Angus Macaulay, decided to sell, Barbara Christie, an enthusiastic and knowledgeable Edinburgh-based art collector, rapidly stepped into the breach and relaunched it as the Stenton Gallery. “It had always been one of my favourite galleries,” she said. “I loved the location and it was a wonderful opportunity.” Ten years on, she feels exactly the same.

“I am really proud about our exhibitions. I like to show artists from all parts of Scotland. In one venue we are able to offer much of the quality painting that is being made in Scotland. On average I hold 10 exhibitions a year. Avariety of solo, group and mixed shows. For example, in October we have a brilliant series of still life subjects in vibrant colours by Liz Knox.” Barbara is immensely fortunate in having the support of the local community, but then they are equally fortunate in having her. In a mixed settlement of Edinburgh commuters and holiday homes, while some of the villagers have lived here for all of their lives. Potential buyers have been known to travel considerable distances to seek it out, and artwork is regularly shipped abroad.

During August of this year, for example, it was listed for the first time as Venue 344, part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The names of the exhibitors from that Festival Show possibly give some indication of the regard in which the gallery is held – Colin Brown, Willie Fulton, Ed Hunter, Derek Jones, Kirsty Lorenz, Dugald MacInnes, Lynn McGregor, Hazel Nagl, Patricia Sadler, Campbell Sandilands, Wendy Sutherland, Blair Thomson, Helen M.

Turner and Maggie Vance.