Finlay Room, RSA Lower Galleries
Geoff Uglow won the prestigious Alastair Salvesen Art Scholarship (£10,000) for painting and travel in 2009. He has since journeyed round the coast of Scotland in the footsteps of famous 18th century painter William Daniell. This exhibition presents a selection of new large-scale paintings, prints and drawings from his travels which document and capture his fascination with the raw beauty of our coastline and the awe it inspires.
Scotland's coast is diverse. It has been a source of inspiration for artists of all mediums throughout history and still captivates ones imagination. Engaging in a subject of this magnitude is no small task. In its entirety the content of such a subject is remarkably abundant in material; even a life of inquiry seems too short a time to satisfactorily understand its complicated behaviour. The inherent nature of the land always eclipses any individuals achievement; all human intervention seems temporary and transient.
In 1814 William Daniell set out on his now famous journey A Voyage Around Great Britain; it was a celebration of the rural coastline of Britain. This eight column collection of 308 aquatint engravings and accompanying textual commentary, details the 'sublime and picturesque' coastline in the final decades of the twentieth century preceding the age of photography and now stands as an invaluable pictorial and written document of the country at the height of the romantic period. His aquatint engravings, particularly those of the Scottish Highlands, are widely acknowledged as some of the finest ever produced. They are also a visual link to other visionaries such as Johnson, Scott, Burns and Mendelssohn to name a few. Following in his footsteps almost 200 years on, my own journey through this landscape has been one of astonishment; each individual length that makes up its coastline is completely unique in complexion and character from one to the next. Scotland owns a complex and diabolical beauty that is breathtaking.
I am currently working on an artists book of prints entitled - A Pictorial Guide to Scotland Volume I. This includes current descriptions of Daniell's sites and also places that hold particular significance to me and my own journey. Over the course of my travels I have made direct observational notes in the form of drawings and painted studies; this material is later digested and used for the studio paintings. I am interested in the memory of a visceral response to these places and how those thoughts and susceptibilities are lost and rediscovered through the act of painting. I equate the physical quality of the paint to a sea pushed and pulled through itself. When this activity is stopped, liquid becomes solid as if frozen.
Geoff Uglow, April 2010
About the Alastair Salvesen Art Scholarship
The painting & travel award of now up to £12,000 includes a solo exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy. Sponsored by the Alastair Salvesen Trust in association with the RSA, the Alastair Salvesen Art Scholarship is a major initiative intended to encourage young painters who have made the transition from college to a working environment. The prize money funds travel for three to six months and previous winners have travelled to China, Eastern Europe, Alaska and the South Seas.