The travelling gallery showcases the work of recent art school graduates
The Compass Gallery is situated just off Blytheswood Square, slightly below street level, in a space shared with Cyril Gerber Fine Art. The Compass Gallery exhibits works ranging from early 1900s to contemporary artists. Every year since opening in 1969, the gallery travels to Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow to find talented graduates whose work they show and sell. It aims to showcase and support young artists through this project which allows them a platform to sell their work from while giving them a taste of the gallery world.
When I visit Compass to review The Winter Exhibition, the gallery is actually already packing up part of the exhibition to take down to London to show at the London Contemporary Art Fair. The space is in a transition and as such is probably messier than usual, given the works that are being changed around and stacks of art leaning against the walls. Yet I am free to move around the place, and the women working in the gallery are keen to chat about any artist or work I would like to know more about.
The diversity of the works to see at Compass is impressive. The styles of paintings range from impasto, abstract landscapes and surreal works: stacks of books upon books against a deep blue sky with some picture-perfect clouds, screen prints, still lives of shells rendered in extreme detail against black backgrounds and a work that reminds me of Paul Gauguin’s symbolist Vision after the Sermon with its fluorescent red tones. There is even some landscapes executed in the style of Chinese hanging scrolls with the classic vertical shape, by Katie Downie. Yet instead of showcasing Chinese mountaintops, she uses this format to bring different views of Iona to life.
The recent graduates who make up most of The Winter Exhibition are joined by some well-established Scottish artists, the likes of S.J. Peploe and Joan Eardly, both of whose work is part of the collection of the Hunterian Art Gallery, and Tom H. Shanks, arguably Scotland’s best watercolour painter. It is his beautiful Scottish vistas that my eyes are continuously drawn to, his Scottish hills and mountains, rendered in purples, greens, browns and oranges set off some of the graduate paintings beautifully. In particular it is Shanks’ work, as well as Alma Wolfson’s Light and Shadow, Wester Ross or Katie Pope’s Winter Sun on Gardner Street, showing a stunning row of Glasgow tenements in the fading sunset, that provide the scenes that jump out from the walls filled with paintings.
In addition to paintings, there are some wonderful stitched works by Hannah Halliday on show, reading snappy and self-aware statements like “Stich ‘n’ Bitch” and “I knit to keep death away.” If ever textiles could be described as meta, it was there. Then there are barks with faces on them, colourful stained glass, a wire sculpture on a swing by Allisa Hyslop in the corner and a statue of a white dog lying a on the floor - a very boring playmate for the real dog also hanging about in the gallery. Fortunately, he is happily occupied with a squeaky red ball, making a noise that most galleries would unlikely permit. However, the free-to-roam dog seems to reflect the vibe of the compass gallery which is friendly, casual and inclusive. This year’s Winter Exhibition itself is an impressive array of young talent, demonstrating bold potential and brimming with life.
The Winter Exhibition runs until 31 January. The upcoming exhibition at the Compass Gallery is a solo exhibition of Josephine Broekhuizen, an artist originally from the Netherlands, graduated from Grays School of Art in Aberdeen. She works in oil paint, collage, etching, linocut printing and, most recently, screen printing, and lives in Arran. 03-02-2018 until 24-02-2018.