My friend and neighbour Sioux is- to paraphrase an old Scottish expression, a lass of many parts. Pen and ink line illustration is Sioux's latest hobby, one she started last year as a diversion in a period of enforced idleness. I'd seen some of her early work and liked it. It turns that I wasn't alone in that.
Sioux exhibited a few of her illustrations at the Glasgow Art Fair last March. A tad intimidated by the fact that she was the only artist showing black and white line illustrations at the 2010 Fair, Sioux was quite gobsmacked when she was promptly offered a deal by the Art Exposure Gallery here in Glasgow. And you could've knocked Sioux over with a feather when the gallery owner told her that she was to be launched with a private viewing to which she could invite family and friends.
The final preparations
Sioux spent the subsequent few weeks hard at work over a couple of big pictures for her show. I saw them both as pencils. They looked interesting. I saw them take shape as Sioux worked up the inks. This was fascinating as vague forms took on the appearance of solidity, and patches of light and dark defined and rooted spaces and objects.
As if the quality of composition and of the fine detail of Sioux's untutored work isn't remarkable enough, she draws everything from her mind's eye. The rose and the gothic arches from Glasgow Cathedral- both above, show that this is no mean feat.
The big night
The showing was last Friday. Keen to show support for Sioux- and to sample the inevitable wine and nibbles, naturally enough, I joined a bunch of Sioux's other friends and neighbours at Art Exposure. We arrived about half an hour after the opening to find the place buzzing.
In case the news hasn't reached my non-British readers, we are in the final run up to a general election here. Alert to politicians' appetite for free publicity, Sioux made a point of inviting as many local figures as she could finger from her mobile phonebook. Alex Salmold had been and gone by the time we arrived, but there were still a few around. I had a wee chat with Martha Wardrop, a local councillor whom I'd met once before. We mostly talked of the blooms which signal the arrival of spring and about the pleasures of the countryside.
I also talked with another John. We admired Sioux's pictures, as well as some of the paintings which hung around about. John and I both particularly liked a series of small paintings showing Glasgow city centre at night (I can't remember the artist's name unfortunately). I've long thought that cityscapes at night would make for great paintings and have been surprised that so few artists have taken to the theme. So these pictures pleased me a lot.
I found myself talking with Cybil, who turned out to be another artist with paintings at the gallery. I had to take a look, naturally enough. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Cybil's paintings were some which had caught my eye when I'd visited the gallery recently while helping Sioux deliver some of her own work. Cybil explained to me some of what inspires her landscapes rendered in flowing and merging pastel hues shaded by browns and greys, and we found ourselves talking about chaos theory and cosmology. Quite unexpected and very interesting.
In the end of course the night belonged to Sioux. Her feet barely touched the ground as she swept through the social whirl, meeting and greeting all her guests. It was all I could do to get her to stop and stand still for long enough to be able take some pictures. Above you can see her with the gallery owner and the five pictures on display on the night. Being essentially unique in the art market the pictures attracted lots of interest. People with whom I spoke were impressed especially by the finely rendered detail of Sioux's linework and by her uncomplicatedly representational themes; "deceptively unadorned" I called it. I believe one sale was made on the spot.
So Sioux's introduction to the art world was a great success. The usual wellwishing aside, I can only hope that this is a harbinger of things to come: Sioux will be donating all her proceeds from the sales of her art to Good News India, a charity which helps lepers and children in India; good work for a good cause. ;)