The boundaries of drawing, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture are blurred in this very strong show of Fine Art.
Landscape provides one predominant cluster of work. Ellis O’Connor’s powerful mountain-scapes evoke both the sublime and the menacing aspects of the Scottish Highland landscape while both Kate Cunnigham’s ethereal cloud paintings and Jacinda Chan’s constructed lotus pond create contemplative spaces for the viewer. Holly Ward engages with landscape through photography, creating large-scale images which focus on texture and colour. Lesley Simpson’s prints of rubbed markings from cup and ring features in rocks at Kilmartin also reflect the desire of artists to participate in their work within nature. Rachel Goldie’s botanical paintings and her “Travelling Apothecary” concern themselves at first glance with herbal medicine, but this topic is subverted by the paintings’ titles, named as they are after friends or family. The theme of urban landscape is explored with great subtlety by Thomas Cameron, whose paintings of council housing are illuminated by rays of sunlight or reflections of rain, rendering a kind of dignified grandeur from an often neglected subject matter in art. Concerned with the mechanisation of agriculture and the treatment of livestock, Emma Fortnum’s prints and montages depict a cold reality far removed from the bucolic rural idyll we so soften imagine .
Portraiture offers another thematic cluster. Amy McIntosh’s exuberant portraits of her contemporaries contrast with Barry Foster’s contemplative approach and subdued colour palette; Kerry Nairn’s subtle, technically deft full-length portraits on pale, unadorned backgrounds while Emma Doig’s expressive work combines technical skill with great energy, resulting in fleeting images of the body in movement. Eva O’Neill Harrold’s intimate paintings have a blurred, gestural quality that suggests the inability to express memory as fact. They evoke the eternal uncertainty of fixing an event in a painting.
A concern with gender, femininity and childhood is also is noteworthy. Anna Hughes, through printmaking and video, explores themes of women’s subordination juxtaposed on rural landscape settings, creating a tension that suggests incongruities in the role of women as artists. Dina Mackins, in her expressive life paintings of women, reveals the physical and psychic pain of domestic violence. Rose Davidson’s work looks at female identity through cultural displays of femininity and depictions of Asian women in fashion. Gail Anderson’s surreal photo-montage depicts the comic hero Desperate Dan being worshipped by female acolytes in Dundee’s City Square, transformed into a fantasy garden. Lily Morris’s playful but unsettling work looks at memories of childhood through her doll’s house constructions and ceramic replicas of babies’ shoes, positioned on top of inverted child manikin legs. Molly Jacob’s irreverent constructions and paintings remind us of the need for art to confront accepted norms so it is a pity that the door to her studio displayed a notice warning the viewer of ‘nudity and profanity’ within. The warning calls into question our expectations of art in the 21st Century. Molly McEwan’s ceramic figurines effectively invoke a nightmarish world of grotesque, malformed babies; her low-relief wall construction depicts a pair of outsized, three-dimensional eyes, one of which actually blinks.
Finally, work on globalisation and the other can also be seen. Olivia Van Hooft creates a pagan iconography with monochrome line drawings and prints, while Emma Jolly’s installations reflect art’s close relationship with ‘primitive’ cultures. Jolly’s work identifies with the Outsider, in her use of tribal imagery and costume. Moira Watson’s work focusses on global politics, themes of power and militarisation through her prints of banknotes from zones of conflict such as the Congo and Nigeria. In another painting, she depicts world leaders as a criminal gang. It would be impossible in this limited article to mention every artist in the Fine Art show but I hope that this selection shows the diversity and strength of the work on display.