New Gallery set to Thrive in the Highlands

26 Apr 2012 in Highland, Visual Arts & Crafts

RHUEART GALLERY launched today with a lunchtime reception at landscape artist James Hawkins’s Rhue Studio hosted by the company’s co-directors, James and Flick Hawkins.

Typically blustery, wet, West-Coast weather did nothing to dampen enthusiasm among the more than fifty guests who had travelled the length and breadth of Scotland for Rhue’s main event.

Corks popped, conversation flowed but, rightly and deservedly, it was the work exhibited by four RhueArt artists that stole the show.

Outside, on a low stone wall three pert rabbits by Helen Denerley eyed up the Hawkins’s verdant polytunnel, a large Denerley goose stood guard by the gallery doors flanked by a tense pack of hunting dogs; up in the gallery little metal birds perched atop plinths either side of a sparrowhawk… The sculptor, meantime, apparently oblivious to the various threats she’d installed, worked her way through canapés by top chef Sam Hawkins (yes, son).

For the milling crowd in the studio James Hawkins’s vivid, vibrant canvases dispelled at a stroke all thoughts of rain still falling, but the real treat here was a propitious sneak preview of the artist’s brand new cut-out landscapes in advance of his solo show in London at the Gallery in Cork Street in June. Three of these works had been hung, no frame required, as if floating – Hawkins is, as he put it, ‘breaking the tyranny of the rectangle’.

In addition to Helen Denerley’s creatures great and small, RhueArt Gallery’s inaugural show includes thoughtful and thought-provoking sculpture in stone, marble and slate by Mary Bourne – from small slates etched with birch trees in gold and silver leaf to a large Colorado marble Mountain Flower sculpture laid on stone slabs – as well as intriguing ink drawings by Lisa O’Brien.

Finally, in yet another contrast of form and materials, jewellery maker Lucy Woodley has thrown out the idea of the box and instead created wall mounts in glass and oak unique to each necklace, taking her works in silver and other soft metals, and what one formerly thought of as ‘jewellery’, into a completely new realm.

Prior to cutting the red-silk ribbon, Andrew Dixon (CEO Creative Scotland) gave the opening address praising the gallery’s undeniably dramatic location and, moreover, the architect’s (Burgess Adams, Edinburgh) vision brought to bear in maximising natural light and the potential scope awarded to the exhibition space.

Dixon is a long-time supporter of James Hawkins’s work – he first encountered the artist, ‘I noticed this man with his trousers covered in paint’, in Ullapool in 2011 – and explained that while Creative Scotland has not been involved with RhueArt’s most recent venture, he was keen personally to endorse RhueArt and the ethos of its business as promoters. Indeed, he referenced the ‘enterprise’ of RhueArt alongside that of Baltic (with which as Chief Executive of Northern Arts he was very much involved) adding that both the new gallery building and the business deserve high commendation for the positive contribution both are set to bring to art in Ullapool, the Highlands and beyond.

Guests at the reception included Robert Muir and Raine MacLennan of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (RhueArt is an HIE account-managed business).

RhueArt represents contemporary artists based in the UK and Ireland, whose work encompasses painting, film-making, photography, textiles and sculpture.

The principal purpose of the new gallery is to show, year round, work by the artists represented by RhueArt alongside site-specific installations.

James Hawkins will continue to work and exhibit at his open studio.

The opening exhibition runs until mid-June: Mary Bourne (sculpture in stone, slate and marble), Lucy Woodley (silversmith, wall-mounted jewellery), Helen Denerley (animal and bird sculptures in scrap metal) and Lisa O’Brien (ink drawings).

RhueArt Gallery & James Hawkins’s Rhue Studio are open throughout the year

Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Source: RhueArt