The Story of ‘Witchfinder’ our October/November exhibition

“The show, “Witchfinder”, draws its inspiration from the Scottish Witch Trials, the Scottish
Witchcraft Act of 1563,” says the artist Megan Archibald, “and the tales of the men and women hung as witches that carry on through our culture today — in fact, very near where I grew up, there’s a roundabout reputedly named after a witch (Lizzie Brice), there’s the “witches graves” near Aberdeen, there’s the grim history of pleasant Princes Street Gardens’ past as the Nor Loch, the site of dunking the witches.”
“So it might be surprising that there isn’t a single literal depiction of a witch here. Not a
pointy hat or cat to be seen,” she continues. “I recall so clearly leaving the Aberdeen City Archives in a state of catatonia — it’s odd, to hold in your bare hands the death warrant of another human being, even if a few centuries separate you from them. It’s even odder to hold the bill, itemised and macabre, of
the cost of burning them. Seas of time separate you from them — your humanity ties you together.
And even grimmer to realise, they weren’t witches. Well, of course they weren’t witches. But
they weren’t the kitschy cute story we like to tell either — of healers, charmers and psychics. Yes,
sometimes their dittays accused them of making charms, of having familiars, of helping in
childbirth and curing diseases. Sometimes, they even really did these things — in a world before
modern medicine, or the ability to predict a tempest at sea, you could make a little money selling
red ribbons tied as charms to fishermen’s wives, or aiding the sick. But really — they were poor,
they were forgotten. They went against norms, using today’s language we might have said some
struggled with alcohol addiction, or had mental health problems. In amongst these fantastical ideas
of charms, healing and magic dogs called Vinegar Tom, there were accusations of drunken and
disorderly behaviour; pursuing the wrong lover; acting irrationally; jealousy; hatred; brawling with
a neighbour; fighting with a friend. Who reading this can put their hand on a Bible and tell me that
they’ve never gotten drunk and acted silly, never fallen for the wrong person and taken leave of
their senses, had a fight with their neighbour, or been jealous of another?”

Whilst there were exceptions to this, overwhelmingly those accused as witches came from
the underclass of society. And when this was the exception, there was always a political reason to
accuse the higher ranking person (I’m looking at you, King James, and your accusing a woman of
witchcraft and burning her at Edinburgh Castle because you…wanted her castle and her husband
was dead). Turning on the television today, tells me that often we still look to those who have least,
who have addictions, or even disability and mental health conditions, as the “problem”, as the
“plague on the good people”. As the threat.
It’s difficult, living in Scotland today with a pretty clear division between Church and State,
to fully visualise just how much of a shake up the Reformation gave to Scottish daily life. The first
Reformation Parliament, the one that passed the Witchcraft Act, was also dealing with not
insignificant concerns about marriage laws, property laws. Some have argued that the Witchcraft
Act was actually an anti-Catholic sentiment, snuck through under the nose of Mary Queen of Scots,
just to get another one-up on the Catholic Queen from her Protestant Parliament. When your
whole world, your whole culture, has just been shaken from the ground up, the laws are being re
written, the church you knew is gone, and martyrs have burned, Leith has been under Siege, and
marital law was declared in Perth — no wonder people were terrified, no wonder people began to
turn on each other. The atmosphere must have been incredibly tense, before we consider the
carnage that the years of fighting had wrought on the country. In times of tribulation and change, it
is easy to pick on the easiest victim; it is easy to sew moral panic; it is easy to blame another for our
misfortunes. It’s easy to draw parallels to Brexit, COVID-19, Scottish Independence…

My favourite piece here is Black No. 1. He’s named after the colour of ink he’s printed in. I
found the photograph I worked from as a reference for that woodcut in a junk store in Aberdeen,
not a stone’s throw from where the accused witches were held in their makeshift prison, before
their trials, in the spire of St Nicholas Kirk. The story apparently goes, that at sometime in the late
18th or early 19th century, a local photographer either didn’t get paid, or people didn’t come back
to collect their portraits. This box of unknown people, Aberdeen locals, photographed right there
on the street the accused witches were sentenced on, somehow made it through a century and to
me, and I promptly bought it. I know nothing about any of these people, not even their names —
but they served as a connection through the city’s past, staring out at me from the studio walls as I
read the dittays. Maybe he has nothing to do with it — maybe he has everything, the visual
reminder to myself that people have always been people; and that seas of time and cultural shifts
change the backdrops, but that the threads that tie us together stay.”
With my sincerest thanks to:
The Aberdeen City Archives, The Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen, City of the
Dead Tours, Jamie Corstorphine, Leonard Low, Old Aberdeen Bookshop, and The
Church of Scotland Ministers and Reverends who so warmly invited me in, especially
the community in Aberdeen, Peacock Visual Arts + The Glasgow Print Studio.
And my friends, who somehow don’t hate me after a year of talking about John Knox

The exhibition runs until Saturday November 11.

CASTAWAY – Craigo Art

I hope you enjoy the fifth in the 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 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!)

Craig joined the Collective quite recently. He largely paints impressionistic views of his home city, particularly Stockbridge and The New Town where he is based.  We are lucky to have three original paintings (as well as signed prints) of Edinburgh landmarks nearer to our gallery on the Southside: The Meadows in Spring, St Giles and Edinburgh Castle.

He also takes inspiration from his extensive travels around Italy.  With a love of the Scottish Landscape greats he strives to capture colour, light and atmosphere in his paintings.

Craigo has a background in design, photography and marketing.  He studied and worked in the South of Scotland, North of England and briefly in Holland before he fell in love with Edinburgh and developed his passion for oil painting.

‘Poets Pub’ by  Alexander ‘Sandy’ Moffat’ 1980. 

I love this painting and the image that it portrays of Edinburgh as a hub for intellectuals, thinkers, poets, and artists.

As a student, Sandy Moffat shared a studio in Rose Street with John Bellany and they haunted the bars nearby, where there was a thriving bohemian atmosphere full of artists, musicians and poets – not just tourists like now.

The pub depicted is an amalgamation of Milne’s, the Abbotsford, and the Cafe Royal.

I first became aware of the painting on my earliest visits to Edinburgh as a boy and my principal interest was Hugh MacDairmid, who is central in the painting. MacDairmid was born in the same small Borders village as me, and was always the subject of fascination when he occasionally returned and was (unfortunately) treated with a degree of suspicion and disdain by the locals who would gossip “He’s communist you know” – but that added to his mystique for me.

The other writers and poets depicted are Norman MacCaig, Sorley Maclean, Iain Crichton Smith, George Mackay Brown, Sydney Goodsir Smith, Edwin Morgan, Robert Garioch, and in the foreground is Alan Bold. 

‘The Piazzetta, Venice’ by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1840)

Scotland’s National Gallery was bequeathed an amazing collection of Turner watercolours by art collector Henry Vaughan in 1900. Since then, following Vaughan’s strict guidelines, they have only ever been displayed during the month of January, when natural light levels are at their lowest.

My favourite painting from this collection is ‘The Piazzetta, Venice’, which would perhaps have to be a reproduction for the desert Island because of the sunshine!

Turner was so innovative, original and ahead of his time as a landscape painter – no one has quite surpassed his ability to capture light and atmosphere.

The Scrovegni Chapel (Cappella degli Scrovegni) Padua by Giotto (completed around 1305)

I’m being a little greedy adding this as a choice, but I would be happy to have a VR headset version of this masterpiece on my island. 

The chapel contains a 14th-century fresco cycle by Giotto, located in Padua city centre.  It is a ‘must see’ highlight for me.

Maybe smaller scale than, say, the Sistine Chapel, but seeing this is a truly amazing and moving experience – the intense blue is what initially hits you upon entering and then you are drawn to the humanity and expression of the figures.

Giotto was the first artist to capture this emotion and humanity, and was a true innovator.

“La Vucciria” by  Renato Guttuso (1974)

When Guttuso moved to Palermo as a student in the early 1930s, the lively La Vucciria market was one of his most striking first encounters. It still has the same haphazard charm and an air of ‘all life is here’ today. 

The large 300 x 300 cm painting was not done until 1974, when he was living in Lombardy and when he had fallen a little out of fashion. 

With bold colours and a raw sense of realism, Guttuso expresses the true spirit of the Sicilian capital. The bustle of daily life and the importance placed on food contrasts with darker elements which perfectly encapsulate the complexity of Palermo. 

I went to see this amazing painting, now housed in Palazzo Chiaramonte-Steri, the last time I visited Palermo and it is a firm favourite that takes me back every time I see a reproduction of it. 

‘An Egyptian Interior’ by Arthur Melville (1881)

I’m a huge fan of Melville and love his precise but loose brush marks and how he captures a sense of light and shade in his work. He died aged 49 but would have surely went on to receive greater acclaim had he lived longer.

The painting was worked up from sketches he made in Cairo in 1881.

The intricate patterns of the mashrabiyya woodwork of this interior, balanced against a looser treatment of reflective materials and surface patterns within the room make this painting a stunner.

Which artist would I take with me to the island?

I would take Leonardo Da Vinci – it would be great to time travel to the mindset of the great master and he would doubtlessly be a great asset who would invent things to make life easier on the island. 

The downside would be that his genius might inhibit my own ability to feel worthy to paint! 

What art equipment would I take?

A lifetime supply of oil paints, and canvas!

Craig is running an oil painting workshop for us on Saturday October 21 between 10 and 12.30 pm. He will be teaching the painting of clouds and skies. Head to our events page for further details and to book. Painting Clouds and Skies: a workshop by Craigo Arts – Art & Craft Collective (

Road to Blues – Natasha Mikhailova

April Exhibition

Exhibition Saturday April 1 – Saturday May 6 2023

Our April exhibition introduces a new artist to both the gallery and Edinburgh. Natasha arrived in Edinburgh during lockdown in 2020. This is her first UK solo exhibition.

Road to Blues is a series of works which are called ‘The road’ and dedicated to Ukrainian refugees escaping ongoing war in their country.

Road through Snow, original acrylic on canvas 80 x 40 cm £325.00 part of the original art exhibition by Ukrainian artist Natasha Mikhailova

The artist’s parents lived all their lives in the Ukraine, but in March 2022 they were forced to flee the war. It took three days to reach the Polish border with the last 18 hours of the journey spent standing outside in the cold and snow with thousands of other refugees queuing to enter Poland.

When they finally arrived in Krakow, Natasha’s parents had to be carried into the apartment as they couldn’t walk, through a combination of exhaustion, stress and general fatigue.

A refugee from Kyiv, who now lives in Scotland with a host family, saw the ‘Road to Blues’ painting. Having spent time in a few countries before ending up in the UK, very often not knowing where she and her son would spend the next night, she mentioned that her road was in pure darkness…..that’s how ‘Road to Black’ was born.

Road to Black original acrylic on canvas 100 x 100 cm £395.00 part of the original art exhibition by Ukrainian artist Natasha Mikhailova

“But regardless of the colours,” says Natasha, “all these roads are the Roads of Hope, leading to a better future.”

CASTAWAY – Rona Innes

I hope you enjoy the latest in our 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 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 third Castaway is Rona Innes

Rona is one of the original members of the Collective and I have known her for many years.  Originally from Aberdeenshire, Rona lives and works in Edinburgh. 

She aims to combine her love of nature, ancient artefacts, Japanese woodblock prints and contemporary art into a unique and recognisable style. 

Rona is a mixed media artist and works with a range of materials including paint, ink, pencil, charcoal, collage and digital tools.  She enjoys painting on wood and incorporating the natural wood grain into her artwork. 

Along with painting and drawing, she designs and illustrates a range of wearable art and functional products including outdoor sports scarves made from recycled bottles, homeware and stationery.

Rona has artwork in six continents and one of her dramatic paintings hangs in an office in the Scottish Parliament.

She is especially fond on corvids so you will often find a crow hiding in her artwork!

Edvard Munch – ‘Madonna’ and ’Sick Child’

There are many versions of both these images: drawings, paintings and prints. In both cases I have chosen the prints over the paintings.

Madonna’, 1895–1902, 60 x 45 cm – lithograph combined with a woodcut

Rona's Castaway choiceAged around 15, I bought a postcard of Munch’s ‘Madonna’ oil painting from an art gallery shop and still have it in my studio.  My favourite version is this print, which completely blew me away. The limited palette and bold line work is powerful and more graphic. She’s not a weak, submissive Madonna, she is in control and has attitude! Best of all, this version has the curious red border with the ghoulish foetus lurking in the corner. I became quite obsessed with the foetus on my National Diploma course and ended up creating a sort of shrine/installation to it (which later ended up in a room in my rented flat) I even painted a foetus symbol on a fellow student’s garden wall as part of a mural!


‘Sick Child’, 1896, 42 x 57 cm This melancholy portrait is one of my all time favourites and was based on Munch’s childhood memory of his sister Sophie, moments before she died of tuberculosis. This lithograph focuses on the head and shoulders of the dying girl, whereas the series of oil paintings show the room and a dark-haired, grieving woman kneeling at the bedside. Munch has captured something very powerful, beautiful and incredibly moving. It was Munch’s first attempt at colour lithography and he used a sickly limited palette of yellow, red and grey. He is quoted as saying, “Few artists ever experienced the full grief of their subject as I did in The Sick Child.” There’s little doubt his real life experience is what gives this print it’s realness and soul and seeing it in a gallery was especially poignant.

Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) group

The Bauhaus art school and especially Der Blaue Reiter group of artists have inspired me over the years, especially the work of Paul Klee and Franz Marc.

Franz Marc, ‘Die Wölfe (Balkankrieg)’, Oil on canvas, 1913, 140 x 71cm

A few years ago I visited DerBlaue Reiter exhibition in Basel. Seeing a timeline of Franz Marc’s life’s work in chronological order was extremely moving. His flowing curved lines and planes of bright colours depicting his beloved animals in peaceful scenes suddenly gave way to a chaotic and disturbing painting in dark, bold colours with aggressive angular lines depicting animals which are injured, numb with fear or dying. This change in style, brought about by the oncoming threat and danger of the 1912 conflict between the Balkan League and Ottoman Empire, seemed totally abrupt and terrifying.

It was heartbreaking to read that a few months after creating this painting, Marc was drafted into the Imperial German Army. It wasn’t all bad, he had a knack of coming up with undetectable camouflage patterns and enjoyed putting his skills to use painting huge canvases to hide vehicles. Sadly, just two years later, he was killed by a stray shell and never found out that the government had identified him as a notable artist and orders were on the way to discharge him from the army so he could return to his studio. To me, this painting perfectly captures the unfairness and horror of war.

Rona Innes Castaway









Paul Klee, ‘Around The Fish’, Oil and tempera on canvas mounted on cardboard, 1926, 47 x 64 cm

Rona Innes CastawayThe bold hues of mostly primary colours, against the dark background in this oil painting are sublime. I am fascinated by the cosmic free-floating objects and symbols orbiting the fish which is either swimming in a pond or dead on a plate, I can’t really tell, but my interpretation is that it is in a inky pool of deep water and very much alive. To me, the symbols represent evolution and science, but also religion, time and the astral plane. It was painted soon after the Nazis rose to power in 1933 and Klee was suspended from his teaching position in the Bauhaus, where the work was described as “degenerate art” and derided as childlike, disorderly, and confused. These are the qualities that resonate with me and draw me into his work.

Jean Michel Basquiat, ‘Cabeza’, Acrylic and oil sticks on a blanket stretched on wooden supports, 170 x 152 cm

I have a reproduction of this painting on a coaster so it’s part of my everyday life. I am drawn to the expressive mark making, the scale, the contrast between the solid black figure and the yellow and orange background, the mysterious word, the unusual use of materials and his trademark visible internal organs drawn on the figure.

Rona Innes CastawayBasquiat was incredibly successful at distilling all the elements that make him who he is into his paintings – his ancestry and cultural history, the 1980s New York art and music scene, graffiti, his first hand experience of racism and police brutality towards young black men, his vast knowledge of the body learned from intently studying Grays Anatomy as a child (when he was in hospital after being hit by a car), a deep understanding of symbols, consumerism and the constant stream of background noise from cartoons, TV shows and adverts, all channeled into something very personal and unique.

I have numerous Basquiat books and merchandise including three t-shirts. In 2017, I travelled to London to see a retrospective of his work at the Barbican. Seeing his paintings together and the sheer volume of work he created in his short career was an impactful and humbling experience.

Pre-Nazca and Paracas art:

Rona Innes CastawayPre-Nazca pottery and Paracas textiles from Peru really appeal to me and I’ve spent time in museums observing and sketching them. I particularly love the patterns and colours. Indigenous people, plants, animals and birds are simplified into decorative patterns and stylised to flow around and fit into shapes. Some of the symbols remind me of creatures on Pictish Symbol Stones from north east Scotland. They have so much personality.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, ‘Prince Yoshitsune learning the art of swordsmanship’, Wood block print, 1858, 75 x 36cm

Ukioyo-e is one of my biggest influences. I have a lot of reference books and go out my way to visit exhibitions by masters such as Yoshitoshi, Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi. I have chosen this Edo period woodblock print by Kuniyoshi. I love everything about it – it’s humourous but has a dark narrative and the dynamic composition and use of colour is incredible. There is so much going on in these three panels. Some of the birds have mean, comical expressions and are beating up the prince with sticks, others look forlorn or are ignoring the fight altogether. Figures are approaching in the background, observed by one of the birds and then there’s the mysterious dark vertical section with three stylised flying birds which descends into a dark void. It’s a stunning and highly complex piece of work. I’m also a fan of ancient Chinese landscape painting and sumi-e and can never get enough of it.

Rona Innes Castaway








Which artist would I take with me to the island?

If I can take one of my artist friends that would be my first choice, otherwise Tove Jansson would be good as she was outdoorsy and a creative all rounder so would find plenty of things to do. She spent a lot of her time on remote islands in Finland with limited facilities so is used to that lifestyle already. Ideally I’d discover there were people living on the island who would teach me about their local art and crafts.

What art equipment would I take?

If I could start a fire I’d make my own charcoal and draw on rocks and found objects. I would make my own pigments and dyes. I used to do this as a child when camping on an island in a Highland loch. I would bring a knife for cutting or carving and rope plus some cans to hold water. I might bring some brushes of various sizes too.


Amy McLean

Leaving Lockdown Exhibition

Ninth of April to the 30th May 2021

Amy in her own words:

“Born and based in Fife, I’m 17 and currently in my final year of High School, completing my Advanced Highers. I taught and surrounded myself with art during most of my childhood, to then go on to study it throughout school and I am planning to study Fine Art at University later this year.

The concept of interpreting and translating information into drawn or painted decisions has always fascinated me. Seeing art as a process to search for something, to figure something out, or as a record of the many challenges and decisions that I’ve faced while creating, is more inspiring to me rather than defining it solely on the final solution. I don’t want to limit myself to one style or subject matter; my art is evidence of the many ideas, preferences, challenges and decisions I have had over many different experiences and time frames. They are my own reminders of how it takes a lot of courage to start creating something and to work through any frustrations or self-doubt. I don’t feel fulfilled unless I have experienced that anxiety when working on a piece. I normally aim to lack any false senses of security – I believe a form of ego will take over and make decisions that I won’t be learning and hence improving from.

I am fortunate enough to have won first place in the intermediate category of the 2019 RSAs as well as being longlisted for the 2020 SPAs. Through my participation in regional and national competitions I have engaged deep and meaningful conversations with a much wider audience about my work and as a result, I have learned to embrace exposure and the constructive vulnerability it brings to a young, aspiring artist such as myself.”


Medium Oil, 21 x 26 cm. Price £250 (framed)


Medium Clay, 17 x 13 cm, Price £200


Medium Oil; 28 x 18 cm; Price £250 (framed)


Medium Charcoal; 54 x 42 cm; Price £300 (framed)


Medium Pencil; 32 x 30.5 cm; Price £400 (SOLD)

Houses of Light – Spring Exhibition

Our major Spring Exhibition ‘Houses of Light’ was due to open in a couple of weeks but of course thanks to the current situation we are closed until further notice.

So, welcome to our first virtual exhibition.  If you would like to purchase or reserve one of the paintings, there are two ways to do it:

  • a twenty per cent deposit secures your piece until lockdown is lifted.  You can then pay the balance and the work will be delivered or you can collect it from the Gallery
  •  you can make use of our OwnMYOwn instalment scheme: choose your piece (or pieces!)
    – decide on your payment term (three months, six months or somewhere inbetween)
    – pay your first instalment
    – 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 Paypal invoice – 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.

    Email or call Linsay on 07801 581674 to work out the details.

We look forward to welcoming you to the actual exhibition opening when we are able to fling our doors wide again.  We are planning a big celebration with the opportunity to meet the artist, Ian Pearsall and hear all about his approach and way of working.  Also there at the opening will be several contributors to the book published to accompany the show, featuring writing on the theme of Houses of Light.

About the Artist:

Spring Exhibition
Ian Pearsall, creator of #HousesofLight

Read Ian’s story:

Here, Ian describes his inspiration for the show:

“Lighthouses have all the associations of a romantic relationship with the sea …

‘Houses of Light’ is a body of work that came about in my pursuit of a few simple facts in an important personal memory – I’ve recalled it in my writing for the rather fine book produced to accompany the series of drawings that is the exhibition.  It’s a vivid memory from a holiday experience that’s lasted right up to this day – a lifetime away, but always like yesterday.  A reassuring presence in a hot and restless night time far away in a Portuguese town in an African country. My story is titled ‘Macuti.’

I’ve now visited quite a few since living in the UK, and such is my habit of painting only that which I have experienced first hand, have now pulled the works together in a worthwhile number for the first time to constitute an exhibition – here at the Art & Craft Collective in Edinburgh.

As I’ve spoken to more people about it, whether in person or through significant social media friendships, it’s come to pass that these buildings, and emotional connections to these buildings are of universal significance …so much so that it’s now of equal significance to share this exhibition with everyone who wanted to say something … the words have evoked as much imagery as the works themselves … so get hold of a book and immerse…

Lighthouses don’t just hold a romantic relationship with the sea at all,  in lighthouses we can dream …”


Spring Exhibition
Original drawing  Lighthouse (Tide Out) £695.00


Corsewall Lighthouse is located at Corsewall Point, Kirkcolm near Stranraer in Dumfries and Galloway, south west Scotland.  First lit in 1817, it overlooks the North Channel of the Irish Sea.  Corsewall means the place or well of the Cross.

In November 1970 Concorde reportedly flew over the lighthouse on a trial flight and shattered panes of glass.

Corsewall was automated in 1994 and is now monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Board’s Edinburgh offices.  Since automation it has been converted into the Corsewall Lighthouse Hotel.  It serves, according to our artist “the best afternoon cream tea you will taste”.

Spring Exhibition
Original drawing Storm at Corsewall £645.00



Spring Exhibition
Original drawing Corsewall Lighthouse 1 £695.00





Spring Exhibition
Original Drawing South Stack Angelsey £645.00  South Stack is an island situated just off Holy Island on the northwestern coast of Angelsey.  It is famous as the location of one of Wales’ most spectacular lighthouses, standing some 135 feet high.  Until 1828 when an iron suspension bridge was built, the only means of crossing the deep water channel to the island was in a basket suspended on a hemp cable.  The suspension bridge was replaced in 1964 but closed to the public for safety reasons in 1983.  A new aluminium bridge was built and the lighthouse reopened to the public in 1997.  Thousands visit each year, descending and ascending over 390 stone steps to the footbridge and seeing some of the 8,000 nesting birds that line the cliffs during the breeding season.



Spring Exhibition
Original drawing Flamborough Head  £645.00  Flamborough Head is an eight mile long promontory on the Yorkshire coast.  It is a chalk headland with sheer white cliffs.  The lighthouse was built in 1806.  The cliffs provide nesting sites for many thousands of seabirds and are of international geological significance.


Spring Exhibition
Original drawing Storm (Portpatrick)  £645.00

Spring Exhibition
Original drawing Rain (Portpatrick)  £645.00  Killantringan Lighthouse, located near Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway came into operation in 1900 and served as a waypoint in the North Channel of the Irish Sea.  The lighthouse is protected as a Category B listed building.  The light was automated in 1988 and after a comprehensive review of services in 2005, Killantringan was deemed surplus to requirements and decommissioned.  It is now in private ownership, along with the Lighthousekeeper’s House.



Spring Exhibition
Original drawing Beacon £595.00

Remembering Frances (Frankie) Thwaites again

FRANCES THWAITES (1908 – 1987)

We had the opportunity to show a small selection of pieces (including the last two works she completed) by the respected Scottish abstract painter Frances Thwaites last year, all of which sold very quickly – a great validation of Frankie’s work which has been neglected in the years since her death.

We are delighted to have received five more pieces, mostly early work, which had been on loan to various friends of Frankie and her family.  The earliest dates from the 1950s and all are in their original frames.  Please do come along to the Gallery and see them.

Born in India, where she spent her childhood, Frances Thwaites (known as Frankie) studied stained glass at the Edinburgh College of Art where she won several prizes and scholarships to London and Paris.

Original frame
The original framing of the painting

Between 1946 and 1948 she studied sculpture before turning to abstract painting, exploring the linear and spatial relationships in landscapes by superimposing darker heavy lines and curves on a subtly coloured background giving an impression of movement capturing the atmosphere of a place.

Although based in Edinburgh, she often spent time in London, Paris and Palma de Mallorca and in the 1960s visited Australia, Tahiti and the United States, staying in California for several months.

She exhibited regularly at The Scottish Gallery in the 1950s and 60s and took part in “The Modern Spirit in Scottish Painting” exhibition in 1986. She had solo shows at the 1957 Gallery and the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh, the Pitlochry Festival Theatre, the Compass Gallery in Glasgow, the Pier Arts Centre in Orkney, Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge as well as Galerie Lambert in Paris and Galeria Latina in Palma de Mallorca.

Remembering Frances Thwaites
Frankie (right) at an exhibition of her work

She participated in many important group exhibitions in London and Edinburgh alongside Anne Redpath and Elizabeth Blackadder and other well regarded Scottish visual artists.


Her work is represented in the collection of the Arts Council and in private collections in Britain, France and the United States.

Frankie’s daughter loaned many of the paintings her mother left to her to friends and family so that they were displayed and enjoyed.  A selection of these paintings have been returned to her and we are delighted to present them for sale now.


Well reviewed and successfully exhibited during her lifetime, Frankie has unjustifiably become one of the forgotten artists of the twentieth century. We hope that this small exhibition will remind abstract art lovers of the quality of her work.

Touched With Fire – new work with a story from The Wandering Artist

On Saturday it was delightful to welcome David Dalzell – The Wandering Artist back to Edinburgh and showcase his lovely new pieces – here they are and here he is chatting through the inspiration and techniques he used with one of our customers.

Touched With Fire
Original pen and ink artwork

The first image (above) is entitled ‘She Brings Fire With Her’ and the second (below) is ‘Touched With Fire’.

Touched With Fire
Original pen and ink drawing

They depict the female and male of the red-tailed black cockatoo respectively and there is a story attached to the works, which David explains below:

Touched With Fire
David talking about his inspiration and techniques to an interested customer

“First Australians tell of the red-tailed black cockatoos in their mythology. They herald the coming of the dry season, and they believed that the red/orange of the female colouration, and the red of the male was the origin of the fire that swept through the eucalyptus trees in the dry season of the bush lands. Essential for their regrowth (though now happening worryingly too often). This caught my imagination, and I wanted to depict this.

I photographed these birds in Queensland, just south of Townsville, on the east coast of Australia, by the sea, at a lovely campsite, after eating fish and chips!!

I’ve used the contrast of the detail of the feathers and leaves, with the spontaneity of the coloured ink to give movement and connection.”

These are of course original works but David is considering limited edition prints and perhaps cards if the response to these is positive, so please tell us what you think!

Touched By Fire
She Brings Fire With Her and Touched By Fire framed and on display in our window

Thank you to David for sharing them with us – we hope to entice him back to Edinburgh next Spring after his Winter wandering to Australia and New Zealand!

CASTAWAY – Ian Pearsall

I hope you enjoy our second in the 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 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!)

Here is Ian Pearsall’s selection. Ian is one of our more recent Collectivists and came to the Gallery thanks to the positive power of Twitter! I saw his work (he is based in Stoke on Trent), liked and commented on it and before you know it, he had his first Scottish exhibition here! Another is planned for early next year, so watch this space! And we still have some of the works from that first exhibition in the Gallery.

‘Three Studies for figures at the base of the Crucifixion’
Francis Bacon (1944)
Castaway Ian Pearsall

This has to be the most influential painting of all time for me. I recall the first time I ever saw it. I was a student at Newcastle-Under-Lyme College in my first year on the ‘A’ Level painting course on a college trip to the Tate Gallery in London in 1984. I love it’s violence – it never fails to unnerve and disturb. This painting both terrifies me and continues to show me that the most important mission in (my) art is to COMMUNICATE. I had just made the move from my childhood home back in Malawi out onto a brave new adventure to a country I really knew nothing about. My parents were five-thousand miles away in their expatriate world of blue skies; mowed lawns and gently trickling swimming pools – and here I was; in a place where world events were being shaped – a country writhing in the throes of it’s own savage political and social hubris – and I, a naive boy in this dangerous new world. The Catalogue of Francis Bacon thrills; excites and continues to resonate now as it always did since seeing this piece. I had just arrived into a state of infinite possibilities with everything to lose!

Ralph Steadman
Silkscreen print
Castaway Ian Pearsall

Ralph Steadman is the master creator. He is generally summed up as a ‘cartoonist’ which I hate – because here is an artist who makes the extraordinary connection between a razor-sharp analytical brain-eye-and-hand most seamless. He extracts and exacts the last drop from every medium he turns to in a deadly creative armoury; silkscreen printing, collage, painting, extraordinary draughtsmanship, photography and even sculpture to screamingly convey raw visceral solutions for messages that nail the point to the viewers brain. ‘There is no such thing as a mistake’ he emphasises on describing getting the message down on paper. The materials speak.

‘Choice of Outfits for the agonies of Mary’
Joel-Peter Witkin
Castaway Ian Pearsall

‘I have consecrated my life to changing matter into spirit with the hope of someday seeing it all.
Seeing it’s total form, while wearing the mask, from the distance of death. And there, in the eternal destiny, to seek the face I had before the world was made.’ J-P W.

Within a week of being at University I was strolling through town in a new state of independence. I passed a newsagents – in the window I spotted a copy of PhotoVision with a strange image on the front cover; a photograph (as it turns out) titled ‘Leda’.

It was absolutely thrilling, and mesmerizing. I purchased the magazine on face value which it transpired was a monograph on the photographer Joel-Peter Witkin. Sometimes we must judge a book by it’s cover; his portfolio within unleashed a desire to seek the art of expressing without fear. We must do what we want to do and hope that we find the answer – without fear of never finding it! Live it …

Which artist would I take with me? (Alive or dead?)

Too many and who am I to dare to ask of their time? My latest ‘discovery’ (and I thrillingly own a single piece of her work) Eleanor Adair – one to watch!

Of course if Eleanor didn’t have the time then I would set about this list; Jenny Saville, Tracey Emin, Dominique Cameron, Jack Simcock, Pablo Picasso, Carravaggio, Vincent Van Gogh, David Tress, Andrew Wyeth, Norman Raine, H.R Giger, Rene Uderzo, Herge … I’m scratching the surface ….

What art equipment would I take?

A photocopier… and I’d sneak a charcoal stick in my pocket!!

The Goddess Kali – the real story!

If we think we know anything about the Hindu goddess Kali in the West, it is that She is the goddess of death. In common with much of our understanding about other religions, this is based on wrong assumptions and misinterpretations of a much more nuanced goddess than we think!

Kali comes from the Sanskrit root word Kal which means time. There is nothing that escapes the all-consuming march of time. In Tibetan Buddhism Her counterpart is male with the name Kala. Mother Kali is the most misunderstood of the Hindu goddesses. The Encyclopedia Britannica is grossly mistaken in the following quote, “Major Hindu goddess whose iconography, cult, and mythology commonly associate her with death, sexuality, violence, and, paradoxically in some of her later historical appearances, motherly love.”

It is partly correct to say Kali is a goddess of death but She brings the death of the ego as the illusory self-centered view of reality.

Nowhere in the Hindu stories is She seen killing anything but demons nor is She associated specifically with the process of human dying like the Hindu god Yama (who really is the god of death).

It is true that both Kali and Shiva are said to inhabit cremation grounds and devotees often go to these places to meditate. This is not to worship death but rather it is to overcome the I-am-the-body idea by reinforcing the awareness that the body is a temporary condition.

Shiva and Kali are said to inhabit these places because it is our attachment to the body that gives rise to the ego. Shiva and Kali grant liberation by removing the illusion of the ego. Thus we are the eternal I AM and not the body. This is underscored by the scene of the cremation grounds.

Of all the forms of Devi, She is the most compassionate because She provides moksha or liberation to Her children. She is the counterpart of Shiva the destroyer. They are the destroyers of unreality.

The ego sees Mother Kali and trembles with fear because the ego sees in Her its own eventual demise. A person who is attached to his or her ego will not be receptive to Mother Kali and she will appear in a fearsome form. A mature soul who engages in spiritual practice to remove the illusion of the ego sees Mother Kali as very sweet, affectionate, and overflowing with incomprehensible love for Her children.

Goddess Kali
Original oil on canvas painting by Anna Dorward 30 x 40 cm

Ma Kali wears a garland of skulls and a skirt of dismembered arms because the ego arises out of identification with the body. In truth we are beings of spirit and not flesh. So liberation can only proceed when our attachment to the body ends. Thus the garland and skirt are trophies worn by Her to symbolize having liberated Her children from attachment to the limited body.

She holds a sword and a freshly severed head dripping blood. As the story goes, this represents a great battle in which she destroyed the demon Raktabija.

By not understanding the story behind Mother Kali it is easy to misinterpret Her iconography. In the same way one could say that Christianity is a religion of death, destruction and cannibalism in which the practitioners drink the blood of Jesus and eat his flesh. Of course, we know this is not the proper understanding of the Communion ritual.

Attaching the idea of sexuality to Mother Kali has no basis in Her at all. There is nothing that associates Her with sexuality in the Hindu stories. In fact it is just the opposite. She is one of the few Goddesses who is celibate practicing austerity and renunciation!