With Astronaut-ical Sculpture by Arran Ross
2nd November – 1st December 2019
Preview: Friday 1st November 6-8pm
Fidra Fine Art’s only solo exhibition this year is with Matthew Draper SSA VAS PS and will open with a preview on Friday 1 November 6-8pm. Following exhibitions featuring the grandeur of the Scottish Highlands and, most recently, the Sound of Raasay on the West Coast of Scotland, Matthew has turned his attention to the land and seascape closer to his adopted home in Edinburgh – the Firth of Forth.
Matthew’s atmospheric cityscapes of Edinburgh’s Old Town, shrouded in a haar, the sea mist which has crept in from the Firth of Forth, are amongst the most iconic artworks of the city. In this exhibition the city still makes an appearance but on this occasion as a feature of the panorama looking across the Forth from East Lothian.
Of course, no exhibition on the Firth of Forth would be complete without Bass Rock and in this case, the accompanying islands of Craigleith, Lamb and Fidra. Matthew has also been working on a number of pieces from above North Berwick from the Law, looking back along the Forth towards Edinburgh and Fife. The ever-changing weather sweeping down the Forth from the West plays out some of the most dramatic and atmospheric landscapes anywhere in Scotland – the perfect subject for a series of Matthew Draper studies.
Alongside Matthew’s work, the gallery will also be exhibiting a range of Astronaut-ical sculptures in bronze, ceramic and plaster by Arran Ross. Arran provides a little background to these enigmatic figures…
The Astronaut first emerged from a series of characters I was creating in drawings and paintings during the 1990’s. It gradually took on a life of its own sometimes appearing in a whole variety of settings and materials. On the surface there is a childlike, cartoon like simplicity but the character is enigmatic, timeless and mysterious -an explorer standing with one foot in this world and one foot in another. There is an obvious sci fi element yet the figure is decidedly low tech – primitive yet futuristic at the same time – a timeless icon part ancient part modern- a next generation Gormley – something of the Romanticism of Caspar David’s Friedrich’s the Wanderer – standing on the hill gazing at the beauty of it all and lost in time: a journey that is as much through inner space as it is outer.
Matthew Draper was born in Stone, Staffordshire in 1973. Studied Walsall College of Art 1991-92 and then Falmouth College of Arts BA(hons) Fine Art from 1992-95. Moved to Scotland in 1997. He now lives and works in Edinburgh. Working in pastel, Matthew is drawn to the drama and grandeur of landscapes. In particular the impact changing light has on both the landscape and the viewers mood and interpretation of the experience. Achieving this through a very hands on style – “My work is made with an intense and energetic immediacy, working instinctively rather than methodically, keeping me physically and emotionally involved in the process. I crush soft pastel in my hands rubbing the dust into the paper in wide sweeps of colour gradually manipulating the material to build up a thick layered surface using the ball of my thumb, the heal of my hand and my forearms.”
He has had many solo exhibitions across the UK including the The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh, Lemon Street Gallery, Truro and Beaux Arts, Bath. He has won numerous awards most recently in 2019 with The Baltic Exchange Award, Royal Society of Marine Artists, Mall Galleries, London. His work is widely held in collections both private and public including City of Edinburgh, City Art Centre, Glasgow Museum & Art Gallery, Kelvingrove, Paintings in Hospital Scotland and Bank of Scotland, Edinburgh amongst many more. Matthew told the Mumble a little about his work;
I am interested in and influenced by the dramatic imagery of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century painting. I admire the idea of the contemplation of landscape in the Romantic spirit, found in the work of the German Romantics like Casper David Frederick and the notion of the grandeur of the landscape as expressed in the work of the American Subliminal Painters like Sanford Robinson Gifford and Frederic Edwin Church. These artists adopted the term ‘Luminism’, defined as light in the landscape and the effect that light has on the landscape and objects within it.
As a contemporary artist choosing to adopt this approach to light in the landscape, my interest is not to make straight forward topographical images that are illustrations of place. Instead I am attempting to make imagery that is descriptive of the circumstances under which the subject is viewed; images which convey a sense of place. The drawings are emotional reactions to events and experiences evolving in front of me; events happening or about to happen. The images become like fading memories or captured moments in time. The making of the work is in itself as set of actions and events which creates a harmony between my process and my interpretation of the subject.
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