Duncan Macmillan’s **** Review of SSA 2012

Big Societies: Why Scottish Painters Deserve Better
Published on Thursday 9 February 2012

Three professional bodies – which represent artists who create the kind of work people actually want to own – deserve better than being crammed together into one building for a few weeks each year…

This year it is the SSA’s turn to have the downstairs. It’s the short straw because the ceilings are low and the rooms are small. They have in consequence imposed a size limit, although the show also includes several installations. Alan Bond has made a set of wooden columns and capitals inspired by the building. Jean Floyed, an invited graduate artist from Moray College, has made a space you go inside,where the inner walls are covered with Miró-inspired eyes. Anne Corrance Monk is also from Moray College and her installation is part of a giant Scrabble game. Gillian Mairi Alexander’s Woman with Strawberry Laces for Hair is technically an installation as it seems to be a digital photo screen, but the effect is very striking.

There are old masters here too, of course, or at least older masters and mistresses. Philip Reeves’s collage, Journey to Staffin, is elegantly minimal. Norman McBeath has two very fine photographs. Paul Furneaux’s print Sand Garden Moss is a satisfying composition of rectangles and muted colours. Joan Doerr’s Barrier to Black is expressively abstract in black, white and grey. Tiina Leppanen’s Tidal I and II are simple grids, but freely brushed on absorbent paper so they come alive. Nan Mulder’s print of Lotus Flowers is bold and simple. Orkney Geo by Anne Russell is a very fine etching showing the communion of Orkney’s geology with its seas and sky. Sarah Green’s Ignorance is No Excuse is a freely painted portrait of a woman with a paper bag over her head. June Carey’s Different Choices is a big, impressive drawing of a woman against the sky laden with symbols of the choices she must make.

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