As 2016 draws to a close, we have been reflecting on our past year which has been eventful. We opened 2016 with our 26th annual showing at London Contemporary Art Fair. This marks a very important exhibition highlight in our annual calendar, a presence at one of the most prestigious Art Fairs in Europe, showcasing a high calibre of works and galleries. Naturally we are anxious in preparing for this costly event but it is a fine way to start the year providing us with the best opportunity to present our Scottish artists, both newly emerging and established; to the wider audience in London. There, we continued to build on the strong reputation compass gallery has for finding and supporting Scottish trained artists and crossing borders.
At the end of January we returned, tired but uplifted, having met many new collectors and formed new relationships with other galleries. We were inspired and energised. February began with us mounting our next show which was to feature a sculptor and a painter, GREGOR SMITH RSW and BELINDA RUSH JANSEN, two of compass gallery’s regular exhibitors.
Gregor’s paintings, dramatic watercolours, inspired by his trips to the breath-taking Scottish and Norwegian coastlines seemed to really compliment Belinda’s exquisite sensitive stone carvings and bronzes. Smith is capable of quite a rare poetic quality in his painting and it seemed very fitting to exhibit Belinda’s powerful and poetic birds and animals together with his work. This exhibition proved extremely popular and encouraged our visitors to look at sculpture more closely.
Next on the programme was a real visual treat for summer…THE GOLDEN AGE: 90 YEARS OF INTERNATIONAL FILM POSTERS, a unique exhibition and the first ever original film poster exhibition in Scotland. The gallery was a carnival of colour and characters dominated by old heart throbs Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe. We had been preparing this show for over a year and we hope it demonstrated well that compass has not lost its touch for curating original exhibitions continuing to surprise its audiences. The footfall during the run of the show was enormous demonstrating that Scotland, and Glasgow in particular has a long history and passion for film which is still very much alive. The positive response to this show…for many it was a wonderful trip down memory lane, demonstrated importantly that admirers and collectors of visual fine art respond to well designed graphic images in the same way as the specialist collectors of rare posters. The show drew in wider audiences than usual including artists, designers, college lecturers and their students and of course film lovers of all ages coming especially from all across the country. These carefully conserved posters of iconic films; look as fresh as the day they were made. We included international posters from as early as 1917 onwards, designed by well known artists such as John Piper and Saul Bass, most famous for his collaboration with the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.
Early summer would not be the same without our annual visits to the four main Scottish Art School degree shows. Selecting work for our NEW GENERATION SHOW. Compass Gallery continues to fulfil its main purpose to support and promote the careers of Scotland’s developing new artists. In fact one of the most satisfying things about being directly involved with a contemporary gallery is the opportunity it gives us to see, and handle, the work of these carefully selected emerging artists at the earliest stage of their careers. For many years now, painting has been having some lively competition from an increasing number of other creative forms of expressions in the various art schools and although conceptual influences spread across almost every aspect of contemporary work, we at compass still wish to challenge these ideas by continuing to endorse the more traditional skills of painting, drawing, printmaking and ceramics and sculpture. Many of today’s fine art tutors in the Scottish art schools first exhibited in compass gallery. This year we presented paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture and even knitting from Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh and a particularly strong group of artists from GRAYS SCHOOL of ART Aberdeen.
Our large mixed exhibition in the summer gave us the opportunity to show new work by many of our regular gallery artists followed on in the autumn with a major solo show by a key figure in the Dundee Art Scene, JOHN JOHNSTONE. He has been exhibiting in compass for many years and this long overdue solo exhibition included many of his earlier paintings and fine drawings. Prompted by his recent visits to Glasgow researching specially for this exhibition, he fondly looked at familiar Glasgow locations and to some of its famous cultural sons and daughters for inspiration. The practise of drawing and figure composition is the foundation of Johnstone’s work and this exhibition presented a good opportunity to promote and to confirm our belief that drawing is of fundamental importance.
We wanted to have special mention of our dear friend the artist JACK KNOX RSA RSW RGI HFRIAS D.Litt, who passed away April 2015. Knox has made a permanent impact on contemporary Scottish Art as it is today, and has been an inspirational influence on generations of fellow artists and the many students who graduated under his watch, some now with international recognition, such as Jenny Saville, Alison Watt , Adrian Wiszniewski and Ken Currie to name but a few of them. We will continue to work hard keeping his artistic achievements and paintings in the forefront of people’s minds by displaying his work regularly here in compass gallery. We have always had a very special long standing relationship with the Jack and his family…he is sorely missed.
Throughout this past year we have been fortunate enough to have gained the positive support of several of the art major reviewers… This is a huge reward for all our efforts and that of our exhibiting artists. It is also a major factor in bringing larger audiences in to the gallery. Our thanks and appreciation goes to all.
Sadly in these turbulent economic times many galleries have fallen by the wayside leaving the artists fewer opportunities to show their work. This makes the continuation of compass all the more vital. The gallery is a registered charity which is dependent on the commission from sales and donations to enable it to keep its doors open. It has received no public funding for the past ten years. We do hope in recognition of the work it does it will receive public funding support for 2017 and beyond.
Our current mixed Winter Show is on and includes a wide variety of interesting creative artists working in all media and subject matter. It will continue un-till the end of January.
Compass will be open daily, on Christmas Eve and throughout the festive period. At this time many of our visitors from down south flock to Scotland for some merriment fresh air and fine art. We hope that you and your guests will come along to see the exhibition and to join us for some wine and festive cheer over the next week or two.
Since Compass gallery opened way back in the 1960’s there was always an informative monthly newsletter written eloquently by the gallery founder Cyril Gerber, so we are in a sense hoping to rekindle this tradition.
We are looking forward very much to the New Year and presenting our programme for 2017. We even have plans looking further forward to 2019 when compass will be 50 years old!
Many special exhibitions are pencilled in, including a first Scottish show for Glasgow school graduate, a renowned set and costume designer and painter JOHN MCFARLANE, a new exhibition by Scottish master painter PETER THOMSON and Aberdeen past new generation artist ANNA GEERDES. We are particularly happy to be presenting work by many other artists whom we have admired for many years.
None of this would happen without the dedication and hard work of all the artists so this year we will be continuing to visit the various studios and colleges around the country and much more…
All of our exhibition archives and images can be viewed on our newly updated website at www.compassgallery.co.uk
Compass gallery is a not for profit charity, and we are grateful for the support of individual donations and sponsors. Charity no SC007119.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2017.
Best Wishes from Jill and the girls at the gallery