Diana Lesley and Other Exhibitions

13 Jul 2012 in Orkney, Showcase, Visual Arts & Crafts

Northlight Gallery, Stromness, Orkney, until 16 July 2012, and elsewhere

SPIT in Stromness these days and you hit an artist.

THEY’RE all here doing stone pictures (mostly awful – take my tip, just visit the stones), Druidical pictures (take my tip, revisit Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it’s better) and landscapes which never really existed. It takes courage to really see.

Marian Ashburn's jaunty take on the Stromness street

Marian Ashburn's jaunty take on the Stromness street

Which is what Diana Lesley has in spades. Her wee exhibition in the Northlight Gallery (forgive me, it used to be the butchers shop and I still feel the mince getting to me somewhere in the air…) is a real joy to see. She has a painterly love of the thickness of texture, so that her boats and townscapes feel physical, like eating a sandwich. Of course they’re mostly sold, as is right – she is Orkney’s next configurer, or delineator. A fine eye.

Up to the Waterftont Gallery, one of these generic touristy shops, offering, alarmingly, head massage and tarot readings. In the back there’s a generous heap of local art. Some good, some not (depending on your point of view.) But the main thing is – it’s there, and spilling over . All these folk painting puffins and stacks and sea views, full heartedly.

On to the new Deli – a much needed addition to the Stromness street – and to see Eileen Bevan’s new collection, up at the back behind the beef jerky and the Arborio risotto.

This artist confounds me. She has a brilliant graphic touch – her black and white illustrations are brilliant. But she will keep trying to escape into colour and oil, and it doesna work! Stick with the intimate observation you do so well, I think.

There’s another exhibition, on the other side of the island, worth a look – in South Ronaldsay (The Loft, until 24 July). Carole Saxon’s clear, assured view of Orkney; Marian Ashburn’s jaunty take on the Stromness street, and Shona Firth’s dry look at us Orkney folk…oh, and don’t miss Holly Pearson at the Stromness Library. She’s the new generation – young, thinking hard, and painting up a slightly edgy storm.

© Morag MacInnes, 2012