CASTAWAY – David Dalzell, The Wandering Artist

I hope you enjoy the first in what will be an occasional series of guest blogs from our Collectivists.

Entitled ‘Castaway’ in an homage to the marvellous ‘Desert Island Discs’ I have asked our artists to choose five pieces of art which they would like to take with them to their island hideaway and instead of a book and a luxury, to select the artist that they would most like to share the island with and the equipment that they would most like to take with them. (I will give them an unlimited supply of paper!)

Our first Castaway is David Dalzell – The Wandering Artist

David is one of the original members of the Collective and I have known him for several years. I am thrilled that he decided to join us and have enjoyed seeing the development of his technique over the time that I have known him. As his title suggests, he travels a great deal and we don’t see as much of him in Edinburgh as we would like but always look forward to his visits!

Before the arches met (1930)
Grace Cossington Smith
Crayon and coloured pencils over pencil on cream wove paper

Travelling around the planet, painting and gaining experiences of different cultures and creative endeavours gives me a sense of furthering my career in a self-directed, and self-taught manner.

My travels to Australia have opened my view to a much larger canvas. Grace Cossington Smith is noted as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Smith is seen as being instrumental in helping to introduce the post-impressionist school of painting to her country. Some of her more well known pieces included depictions of the Sydney Harbour Bridge as it was being built. Smith gives a true sense of being a pioneer, both in her subjects and herself!

Faithful Unto Death (1865)
Edward John Poynter
Oil on panel

The look on the soldier’s face is mesmerising. Is he fearful? Resolute? Is he standing guard, facing certain death, or about to flee? Is he about to help the people, such as those in the background, who are facing certain death?

Although never faced with such dramatic choices myself, this painting by John Poynter often reminds me of my sense of values in the world. Be it as a scientist in Universities, administrator or graphic designer in the National Health Service, or as an artist in the world at large, the sense of being faithful to a cause, under whatever circumstance, resonates with me. A postcard of this painting follows me wherever I go.

Superficial anatomy of the shoulder and neck (recto)
Leonardo da Vinci

My first career was as a biologist, and blending the worlds of art and science is always a fascination to me. To view drawings by this master artist and genius is always a source of awe and inspiration. The example of such an identifiable drawing style, whilst learning about the scientific and natural world is a touchstone of masterful skill and human development.

The Corpus Clock

I saw this enchanting piece of sculptural engineering twice, once in Edinburgh and once in its home city of Cambridge. Created by 200 engineers, sculptors, scientists, jewellers, and calligraphers, the design engineer was Stewart Huxley, the chronophage was sculpted by Matthew Sanderson, and the graticule was designed by Alan Meeks. I see this as a wonderful example of human endeavour and invention.


Perhaps my favourite form of craft and, indeed, art can be seen in what are often humble and simple objects.

The Japanese art of Kintsugi, or “Golden Joinery” helps us view the beautiful and complete story of an object, no matter what its history. Beauty in the broken. Beauty in the imperfect. The precious philosophy of both the impermanent nature of things, and celebrating the journey of any object, and indeed person…

Which artist would I take with me on the island?

Vincent van Gogh – to learn from a self-taught man, who studied and mastered his peers’ techniques, before developing his own unique style and pursuing his artistic career without notable commercial success (he sold only one painting in his life – to his brother)! What lessons could be learned by speaking to him! Yes, coffee with Vincent…as long as I had coffee on the island!
Yes David, coffee will be on tap!

What art equipment would I take?

A full set of oil paints…of all media, this is the one where I hesitate the most, and being stuck on a desert island may give me the time, and seclusion I need to master it, and to develop my own style!

Own MY Own

We are launching a new scheme today to make art ownership easier! It’s not original but imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery and we hope it will help customers to take home a piece of art that they love.

We’re calling it Own MY Own and offering customers the opportunity to spread the cost of their piece over three to six months.

Own MY Own is available on any piece (whether painting, print, sculpture or jewellery) priced at £150 or more. The way that it works is as follows:

– choose your piece (or pieces!)
– decide on your payment term (three months, six months or somewhere inbetween)
– pay your first installment
– pay each month until you have paid in full
– take your art home! (Or have it delivered)

You can choose to pay by standing order or you can come in each month and pay with cash or a card – whatever is most convenient for you.

All payments are non-refundable.

Please be aware that if you miss a monthly payment or stop your payments before the end of the payment term, the work will be returned to the sales floor and offered to other customers.

We want you to be sure about your choice and happy with it, so we are happy to bring the work or works that you are interested in to your home so that you can see how they look ‘in situ’ and make your final decision.

So, for example, if you have fallen in love with ‘Edinburgh Electric’ by Alan Kay (£550) you can choose to make an initial payment of £100 then five monthly payments of £90 and it is yours! It is as simple as that!

If you would like to discuss the scheme further or there is a piece that you want to buy, please be in touch. You can email or call the Gallery on 0131 629 9123 and speak to Linsay, the gallery owner.

We love art and we want as many people as possible to own the art that they love – hopefully this scheme will help you to do so.

Finally found what I’m looking for

The search for premises began just before Christmas last year when I saw a vacant shop on Newington Road – that turned out to be a complete non-starter for reasons I won’t bore you with but my top tip when looking for commercial property?  Get a really good surveyor on your side.  I did and after another couple of no- goes (for better reasons: someone else had got there first, so at least I was in the right ballpark)  Scott Mitchell from Edinburgh Commercial Property found me the perfect premises: (drumroll please……………….)

93 Causewayside, Edinburgh EH9 1QG became mine in the middle of June – hurrah!  Then the real work began!  We are currently adding super fab lighting, painting the walls, preparing the floor and pulling together the display items and sorting out the storage for all our lovely artists.  We are on course to open the first weekend in August with a couple of ‘meet the maker’ events and craft demonstrations.  Watch this space for updates!