Having missed the Opening Night for Alison Watt’s new exhibition at Abbot Hall in Kendal, I managed to get there a week later and was truly impressed with the venue and the exhibition. Abbot Hall is a Georgian house built in 1759 which was later bought by the local Council and opened as a public art gallery in 1962. It sits in the beautiful town of Kendal, next to the old Parish Church and overlooking the river Kent, and I’m ashamed to say I had never visited the gallery before. The galleries downstairs house both Tudor and Georgian paintings, including a large collection of works by George Romney and the galleries upstairs are reserved for the modern and contemporary works in the collection and for temporary exhibitions. However, Alison’s works are interspersed between the earlier paintings downstairs as well as in their own exhibition space upstairs.
For anyone unfamiliar with Alison’s work she was born in Greenock and studied at Glasgow School of Art. She has won many awards, including an OBE, and began with figure painting but later moved to abstraction including paintings of swathes of fabrics becoming famous for her ability to depict the colour white in all its various hues. Her compositions in white are what first attracted me to her work and I never cease to be amazed at the ability of an artist to depict an absence of colour. If you visit the Theatre Royal in Glasgow you will see a large tapestry depicting themes from the opera Madama Butterfly in the atrium which was designed by Alison for Scottish Opera and created in the Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh.
This Exhibition, entitled A Shadow On The Blind, is a collection of works painted in white. Alison uses everyday objects, including cotton sheets, picture frames and paper, and turns them into striking pieces of still life art. The images are a mixture of observation and imagination and are beautiful depictions of light and shade. I particularly loved the craftsmanship in the depiction of a folded sheet and the detail in the back of a canvas frame – both of which make you stand back and consider these objects in a new light.
If you are heading along the M6, to or from Scotland, then I urge you to take a short detour at Kendal and be soothed by the gentle surroundings of Abbot Hall and the beautiful paintings in this exhibition. They are a reminder to slow down, unwind and really look at the world
Further information on Abbot Hall and Alison Watt’s Exhibition can be found here
The Exhibition runs until 2 February 2019