Saturday, 14 May 2011

Aftermath: Still Life. Photographs by Neil Macmillan

This is the newsletter sent to our contacts for the celebration of our 4th anniversary and the launch of our new exhibition at Joseph Pearce's:

...I’ve always wondered why in art you often have to choose between images and words. They say that an image is worth more than a thousand words but I recently saw an exhibition which combined both to great effect.

And the same applies to visuals and music. As Picasso said “To draw you have to close your eyes and sing” and many great artists have been great music lovers too. I am now remembering an article by Tim Cornwell that I read recently in the Scotsman about John Campbell Mitchell’s studio, which had been left untouched for 80 years and included a couple of pianos because apart from being an accomplished painter he was very keen on music too.

And music can compress a lifetime in a second, take us back to a previous moment… suspend us in time. Doing acoustically what a still life achieves visually.

Neil’s photographs are lost in time, still life impressions of derelict houses he found in the West coast of Scotland, the Outer Hebrides and the Highlands, during a very meaningful family journey. As he says: “Many of these pictures were taken on a final holiday with my dad who was in the last stages of cancer at the time. Despite the sadness of the trip, it was also filled with moments of happiness too as my dad truly loved Scotland and we saw the best of it on this trip."

His images speak (without any need for words) about the pass of time, human frailty and possibly even war. Houses abandoned in a rush, left in the spur of the moment, maybe with a promise of a return (like a kettle still waiting on the stove…) exactly like John Campbell’s studio. They tell (silently) about Neil’s personal story of a farewell journey and his coming to terms with an announced loss. But they are also “still life impressions” in the literal sense that, no matter what, life always renews itself. Like birds nesting in an abandoned chest of drawers and Nature claiming back what is hers and closing a circle that includes birth and death. As Picasso also said. “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction”.

So when I heard Phamie Gow’s “War Song” by chance, it sounded like Neil’s photographs…it was the perfect acoustic complement for the exhibition. I went back home and listened to the composer's reflections on Moments of Time, and felt that both, images and music were talking loudly the same truth, so why not have both?

I am pleased to invite you to our 4th anniversary celebration and the launch of our new exhibition:

Aftermath: Still Life with photographs by Neil Macmillan

This Sunday 8th of May from 11.30am till 1pm at Joseph Pearce’s Bar. 23 Elm Row, Edinburgh.
Complemented with music by Phamie Gow and Moments of Time

I hope to see you there!

This is a video featuring the photographs included in the exhibition, with music by Phamie Gow played during our launch. Phamie joined us for the preview and was a delightful guest.

The exhibition will be on show at Joseph Pearce's bar, 23 Elm Row, Edinburgh, until the 30th of June and listed as part of the activities of the Leith Festival 2011.