1 What projects have you worked on lately?
It was an honour to celebrate the life and work of the late Dame Elizabeth Blackadder. We made a six-minute film with the Edinburgh Film Company using recordings of her taken by the British Library coupled with film of her studio life, and the result was like having the artist in the gallery with us.
We also transformed the whole gallery into an amazing creative space for our Folk at Heart exhibition which had work dating from the 16th century to an array of outstanding Contemporary artists - it is always a joy to work with artists who helped transform the gallery into an extraordinary experience.
2 What is one great discovery you’ve made?
I found a missing William Johnstone (1897-1981) portrait which was hiding in plain sight in 2011, which was then subsequently acquired by a permanent collection. I discovered still more about the artist which is yet to be published.
3 What is something you’d love to get your hands on - a ‘holy grail’ in your area?
We are very lucky that paintings and objects we have sold from the past often come back to us for sale - and sometimes we get things back we had completely forgotten we had shown. It is always a privilege when an outstanding SJ Peploe or work by Joan Eardley comes back for sale as we are in a unique position of being able to find the original entry from the artist. We have two outstanding examples by both in our upcoming Modern Masters series in January.
4 Do you have a collection in your home?
Yes, living with art and acquiring art is a natural extension of what I do and expresses my tastes and interests. I have a weakness for studio ceramics, wood, sculpture, vintage and contemporary prints, photography and paintings, which I group thematically and change frequently. I buy work from the gallery, auction and Ebay. Collecting should be fun and I am amazed what can be found at very reasonable prices - and making mistakes is OK!
5 What is your favourite appearance of an antique in a play, film or book?
I’ve used Jessie Burton’s book The Miniaturist as the basis of a series I’ve been running for several years now. This year we made a 12:1 house for objects - with miniature paintings, objects and sculpture by gallery artists. Some of the miniature works have ended up in permanent collections. It’s a little nod to Petronella Oortman’s 17th century doll’s house in the Rijksmuseum.
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