Artistic royalty stage new show at Glasgow gallery

The cream of the Glasgow artworld are exhibiting their works together in one exhibition.

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Artist Hazel Nagl at the exhibition in the Kelly Gallery Picture: Phil Rider
Artist Hazel Nagl at the exhibition in the Kelly Gallery Picture: Phil Rider

Work by Greenock-based marine painter James Watt sits next to an offering by printmaker Elspeth Lamb and artist Robert Murray.

On another wall the film noir style of James McNaught follows the warmth of Ronald F Smith's oils.

From well-respected names in the Scottish art world to rising stars, the current exhibition at Glasgow's Kelly Gallery is the first time current members of the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts (RGI), have exhibited together.

To bring the artists' work together in one small space is an achievement for an independent organisation with a 152-year history of promoting and encouraging Scottish artists.

"In a way, this is a kind of continuation from our annual show at the McLellan Galleries last year," explains current convener of the RGI and landscape painter Hazel Nagl.

"It was decided that we wanted this to be on for quite a long time, to give the RGIs a showcase, because that was what it was in the first place: the Kelly is the RGI and the RGI is the Kelly.

"We're trying to get that back a bit and get the RGIs a bit more involved."

At the moment there are 53 RGIs, though other commitments means that not all of them have work on show in the current exhibition.

New names to look out for include Alice McMurrough, whose work is in private collections in Scotland, England, Italy, Spain and the US, with her haunting image, 'Swan Song'.

And Neil Macdonald who shows oils here: bold images in 'Tower' and 'The Way of the Pilgrim'.

The husband and wife are both new RGIs, recently retired from teaching and painting full-time.

Robert Murray is the most recent name added to the distinguished RGI roll call, another artist concentrating on his own work after many years of teaching.

"Some of the contributions are quite unusual," remarks Hazel, "such as the one from Helen Wilson (Morning, Kittyfield Farm).

"She is very famous for her Glasgow pies and opera paintings but she has two landscapes here and they're quite different."

There's a new direction too from Jock McInnes in 'Passage Way', which appears to be influenced by his time spent living in France.

There's no mistaking the distinctive style and use of colour in Ronald Smith's 'Parasols', and the almost surreal 'Silent Exit' by James McNaught.

"The pieces have been chosen because of the size of the gallery," says Hazel. "They're grouped by eye; you have to hang with what's comfortable to your eye. You just get a feel for what works together."

RGIs at the Kelly runs until March 29 at 118 Douglas Street, Glasgow. Visit Meet some of the artists in the new season of Tuesday talks, on March 18, featuring RGI honorary president Philip Reeves.


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