INTERNATIONAL SCOTTISH ARTIST
A chance conversation about my project, painting the mighty river Clyde form source to sea resulted in an invitation from members of the Russian delegation from Rostov-on-Don at a civic reception in Glasgow's City Chambers to come and paint their river, The Don.
Glasgow and Rostov-on-Don are twin cities and are the most successful twinning of any city in Britain. Their relationship has spanned over 25 years.
Glasgow City has embraced this twinning with wonderful opportunities being given to citizens from both places.
Glasgow and Rostov-on-Don are twin cities and are the most successful twinning of any city in Britain. Their relationship has spanned over 25 years. Glasgow City has embraced this twinning with wonderful opportunities being given to citizens from both places. Anything from music, dance and art exchanges to young gymnasts from Glasgow School of Sport receiving an opportunity to train with the Olympic reserve team in Rostov -on - Don have taken place over the years.
Never one to say no to a challenge I accepted this incredible chance to visit a country I had studied at school in History and was fascinated by. Never in my life did I ever think that I would be painting anywhere in this enormous country, you may as well have said that I would visit the moon!
I had certainly thought to paint the golden domes of Russia would be incredible - but I found much much more than that. For me , Rostov -on - Don is a romantic city with beautiful restaurants lining its banks within the city itself and also can be found over on what they call the "Left Bank". I know of a European city which also talks of it's "Left Bank", and has been an inspiration to artists throughout the ages - Paris! In many ways Rostov -on - Don reminded me of Paris; its architecture, large white ornate buildings with shutters.The market place with its colourful parasols; selling incredible fresh and dried fruit and spices that I had never seen before.
I have travelled to many countries through my work and tasted wonderful food, but it was in Rostov - on - Don that I have to say I experienced some of the most beautiful food in the world.
Then to the river; wide and flowing, turquoise water lapping white sandy beaches for as far as the eye could see. It was May and the temperature was about 26 degrees. My preconceived ideas of this vast country completely and utterly dispelled. I was excited and yes, truly inspired! There was something to paint every where I turned and certainly not what I had imagined. So through my paintings I have tried to portray the romance of this great city, it's sophistication, it's faith and it's love of life.
The Cathedral had those golden domes , but for me it was inside where I found even more inspiration. Light and colour, natural and manmade flooded the interior, and colourful candles all ablaze. The Iris, lilac and deep purple grow everywhere. Flowers are a symbol of friendship in Russia and every morning I was met by Alexi Kuvernenski and Natasha his artist daughter, two "Honoured Artist's of Russia" with a boquet of Irises!
Alexi took great pride in taking me to see as much art as possible. I saw the most incredible standard of "FineArt", sculptures and paintings from the past but perhaps more important the work being produced by contemporary artists and young students in the Art Schools , as students are still taught using traditional methods of observation and working from source.
Similarities between the two cities certainly exist. Rostov has industry and it's cranes stand like kinetic sculptures just like Glasgow's dock lands which I have portrayed in my paintings as I follow the course of the Clyde flowing through our city. The cranes stand as monuments to Glasgow's industry past and present. The City Chambers are impressive just like Glasgow, except they don't have our magnificent square. Rostov's people are friendly, welcoming and passionate, like the Glaswegians.
Apart from a number of paintings done in the heart of the city, I was drawn to the left bank. One painting in particular "Twilight Over Rostov", ranks as a lasting memory. Gazing across the river Don from one of those sandy beaches, I saw the city of Rostov; purple in this atmosphere, the river turquoise and blue, the water glistening as the sun began its decent as the city fell to sleep.
I received a call from Rostov at the beginning of June asking me if I could bring over an exhibition of small paintings to celebrate "The City Days". These are four days when all the twinned cities from across the world are invited to join the people of Rostov-on-Don to mark these friendships. My work together with the paintings of another three "Honoured Artists of Russia" will form a major exhibition in celebration of the 25 year relationship Rostov-on-Don has with Glasgow during the month of September.The majority of my paintings going to Russia are small but will be developed into much larger pieces for another exhibition to take place in Cafe Kosachoc in Glasgow during Celtic Connections in Janurary.