Images of Rock Legend’s Guitar Headline Gallery’s New Show
One of the greatest moments of my life happened on the corner of Church Street in my hometown of Inverness in 1970. Round the corner came the mighty Rory Gallagher, a girl on each arm, his long wavy hair flowing in the Highland breeze. I’d watched him earlier in the day when his band Taste played ‘the Highland’s first rock & blues festival’ at the Caley Park (long before Caley and Thistle melded into one). From that moment on, I knew there must be God. I was too taken aback to speak, but my hippy boy companions shook the rock legend’s hand and and gave him the standard Inverness greeting of ‘hi Rory boy, how’re you doing?’ That’s why I’m so excited to be doing some PR for this show at Mansfield Park Gallery in Partick, Glasgow. What a feast – Peter Howson’s latest work, Alec Galloway’s painting of Rory’s ’61 Battered Strat and much more, and the spirit of the great of the man himself.
Artist given unique access to Rory Gallagher’s ’61 Battered Strat
Rory Gallagher plus support! No one would describe Scottish artists Peter Howson and Alec Galloway as sidemen, but they are happy to let the late great Irish rock guitarist Rory Gallagher take centre stage at their joint exhibition which runs from 19 May to 16 June at the Mansfield Park Gallery in Glasgow’s Partick district.
The exhibition, The Tangible & the Spiritual, is likely to attract both art lovers and musicos, as Alex was given unique access to Rory’s 1961 Fender Stratocaster by the rock legend’s brother Donal Gallagher who was his roadie and manager.
With his flowing locks and trademark plaid lumber shirt, Rory, who played all over the world, was a regular at the Apollo in Glasgow both as frontman with his band Taste and as a solo artiste. He even played the first Highland rock festival in Inverness Caley Park in 1970. The crime writer Ian Rankin references Rory in his Rebus novels and is a huge fan.
“Handling that guitar was a Holy Grail experience,” recalls Alex who is also a stained glass artist. “Throughout his career, Rory faithfully relied on this one instrument which is for £1 million and now in storage and unplayed since his death in 1995.
“I met Donal at Nordoff-Robbins fundraiser in Glasgow, and when I asked if I could paint the guitar, he invited me down to his house in London. It was quite a moment when he came in with the guitar and casually put it on the table; there was no standing on ceremony.
“When I took the guitar to my room and started drawing it, it was like a still life and nothing was really happening, until I put the sketch on the bed and the lights above cast a shadow on it. Magical things began to happen and I believe that the guitar was telling me it wanted to be drawn as a shadow. Rory wrote a lot about shadows, and it felt like a spiritual experience.”
“The guitar was as smooth as a pebble and moulded into my body,” recalls Alec who plays in a band in his free time. “You can still see the green blue tinge of Rory’s jeans on it. It is not an understatement to say that the instrument still resonates with amazing energy and even charisma.”
Back at his studio in Greenock, Alec started to develop the drawings and sketches into paintings and collages. “I like using bits of things and juxtaposing them, so the work is quite tactile with pieces of ripped up lumber shirt, plectrums, guitar strings, and even a valve from one of Rory’s Vox amp.”
While the images of the guitar form part of the exhibition, they are just a part of Alec’s latest body of work which deals with his ongoing fascination with objects from a previous life. He is delighted to be exhibiting alongside Peter Howson as he is both a friend and admirer of the artist’s work.
Peter Howson is one of the UK’s best known artists, and in this latest show he continues to explore the theme of spirituality and redemption which has personally brought him back from the brink and given new meaning to his life. Like Alec, Peter is passionate about music and there is always a CD playing in his studio as he works.
By happenstance, the month long exhibition coincides with The Rory Gallagher Tribute Festival (www.rorygallagher.com) which takes place in Donegal from 31 May to 3 June. The Tangible & the Spiritual runs from Saturday 19 May until Saturday 16 June. Please join us for the private view on Sunday 20 May from 1pm until 3pm.
For interviews, images & further information, contact Heather MacLeod on 07891144157 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mansfield Park Gallery, 5 Hyndland Street Glasgow G11 5QE www.mansfieldparkgallery.com t: 0141 342 4124
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The gallery is celebrating its 10th anniversary and is owned by artist Vicki Cassidy.