Jenny with Rosie the Ragdoll cat – a frequent visitor to her studio
To See The Summer Sky
Leading Scottish watercolourist’s solo show at Smithy Gallery
Fresh from winning the Exhibitions Award at this year’s Royal Watercolour Society’s annual exhibition in London, artist Jenny Matthews, has a new solo exhibition at Blanefield’s Smithy Gallery in Stirlingshire.
Running from 31 May until 28 June, To See the Summer Sky, features works inspired by Jenny’s Edinburgh garden including tulips expressly planted for the exhibition. Jenny’s frequent visits to her mother-in-law’s garden in St Yrieix-sous-Aixe in France is another source of inspiration.
Jenny planted these tulip bulbs last autumn so that she could paint them for the solo show
Small wonder that Jenny’s work is often mentioned in the same breath as Dame Elizabeth Blackadder who taught Jenny when she was studying Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh College of Art.
Jenny has continued to use predominantly watercolour since graduating in 1986, and her name is now strongly associated with botanical subjects. It is interesting to note that Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin who tends to focus on dark material, is an admirer and collector of Jenny’s life affirming work.
Known mainly for her flower paintings, Jenny’s love of the subject was ignited during childhood holidays in the Highlands, and she continues to seek out flowers and plants wherever she goes, be they cultivated or wild.
“Butterflies are another passion and I enjoy exploring the countryside with a sketchbook searching for them,” explains Jenny. “There is something magical about discovering an exquisite insect or flower in a landscape: the painting is already there and I am attempting to record my wonder at the creation on paper.
“The medium of watercolour is central to my work. The texture of the support, the pigment, the water and the effects these can produce in combination, all inspire me in themselves. I think of my paintings as paint on paper and therefore simultaneously figurative and abstract.”
One of the paintings featured in the exhibition is La Roche (The Rock), a small, still-inhabited village in Limousin, France, where the living rock is visible at ground level and incorporated into some of the walls of its ancient buildings.
La Roche, Limousin, France’ 80 x 100 cm (unframed dimensions), watercolour on paper.
Continues Jenny: “I loved these two ancient doors with the Fennel plant growing between them, its pale yellow flowers standing out against the dark stained wooden door.
“I was attracted by the texture and detail of the scene during a summer walk last year. The warm stillness of the evening and the history of the area seemed to permeate the walls.”
To See The Summer Sky (an Emily Dickinson quote) is part of a year-long celebration to mark the Smithy Gallery’s 10th anniversary. Gallery owner Natalie Harrison, who restored the original blacksmith’s into a unique space for showcasing contemporary art says:
“Jenny’s paintings take my breath away. Her love of the delicacy and beauty of nature, particularly the fleeting nature of flowers, is captured in her exquisite watercolour paintings.
“The idea of her warm paintings filling the 300 year old cool stone walls of the gallery is exciting to me and I am delighted that she has agreed to a solo exhibition. Everything this year has been picked with particular relevance because of our ten year landmark.”
Smithy Gallery 74 Glasgow Rd, Blanefield Tel:01360 770551 smithygallery.com Gallery opening times: Tues-Sat, 11-5 and Sun 1-5