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Issue 84 - Artist in Residence

Scotland Magazine Issue 84
December 2015

 

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Artist in Residence

In the footsteps of J.M.W. Turner

When Andrew Brown graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in the 1970s, he launched the 369 gallery in Edinburgh's High Street specifically to provide a showcase for his fellow students. There followed a multi-faceted gallery in the Cowgate, housing not only two floors of galleries but artist studios, theatre space and the Gilded Balloon Restaurant.

Throughout the latter half of the 1980s and into the 1990s, the 369 gallery was at the heart of Scotland's visual arts scene. Among those who made their exhibition debuts were Scottish artists Caroline McNairn, Martin Churchill, Peter Howson, June Redfern, Calum Colvin, Fionna Carlyle, the brilliant Glasgow-based Malaysian-Chinese painter Hok Aun Teh and a host of now well known established names.

When the 369 Gallery closed during the 1990s, Andrew departed to the Borders, then to London. Now he is back in Scotland and has established a studio at the Glen in Innerleithen, Peeblesshire.

From his childhood in East Lothian and Galloway, Brown was inspired by the iconic English painter James Mallord William Turner. Between 1818 and 1834, Turner was commissioned by the publisher William Cadell to illustrate books by Sir Walter Scott and consequently traveled extensively throughout Scotland. His original sketches are housed in the Tate Gallery in London.

In tribute, therefore, Brown set off on a personal odyssey to re-interpret in his own inimitable style many of the locations chosen by Turner and Scott and which feature in Turner's Sketchbooks. The outcome was a lavishly illustrated book published by Famedrame Publishers Ltd in 1999.

Many of the paintings from this book were on display at the recent exhibition held at Cockenzie House, Port Seton to coincide with the 2015 AGM visit of the Walter Scott Society. For those who are unaware of it, Cockenzie House was the home of William Cadell, and both Scott and Turner were visitors.

“More than any other country in Europe, Scotland is almost unchanged since Turner's day,” says Andrew. “Even 200 years later, the beautiful and awesome scenery which so inspired Turner is still there to enchant new visitors.”

Andrew Brown is now also preoccupied with writing a book on Scottish women artists between 1850 and 2000. “Scotland has produced a remarkable number of first rate women artists,” he says. “From the Glasgow Girls associated with Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the 19th Century to Anne Redpath, doyen of the Edinburgh School and the tragic Joan Eardley in the mid-20th Century, ending with the late lyrical Borders painter Caroline McNairn, who was a truly gifted friend.”