Eleanor Carlingford is easily one of Scotland’s most prominent mid-career figurative artists of the moment. Her enigmatic, expressive paintings push viewers to confront their own inner dialogue. Responding to her highly visual work, understanding and trying to accept it alone takes courage and a desire to gain a deeper understanding – of vague recollections of something undiscovered, or something so obvious, it’s a shock to meet.
‘From The Bugler’s Pocket’ is a collection born from a need to remove, rid, replace and renew. Pockets, taken from an army bugler’s jacket Eleanor owned and altered, were kept. Kept for personal reasons. Kept to keep personal items. Kept because she didn’t want to part with them.
“I had a jacket – an army bugler’s jacket bought from an antique shop. I altered it from being a uniform to being my jacket, embellished with symbols of my life. That was for an exhibition a few years ago.
I binned the jacket before starting preparation for my new exhibition, but held onto the pockets. The idea came to me to do some quiet stitching work with these pockets and other scraps from used items on a different vintage jacket of mine, a checkered one, which had obviously also been on the shoulders of previous owners.
New work in the sketchbook and on canvas started to emerge from this contemplative stitchery. The photo here is that mending / embellishment stitched on over a split in the jacket’s back seam – a consequence of age, wear and tear”.
Eleanor talks about binning, keeping, altering and awakening – seeking to re-evaluate life that has past with the life that is still present.
“Stop yourself from thinking ‘why the heck would I do that’ and just start thinking ‘well why not’. Then that makes you give things a go”.
Each painting confronts the idea of identity, posing questions that aren’t easy. Who am I? Who are you? Who have I been? Who do I want to be? The answers aren’t obvious. Eleanor doesn’t present you with an ideal – that’s not her responsibility. She points you to look inwards, at what is real. It’s a difficult thing to do. Life is unscripted. Identifying who you are takes time. Look and find maybe not what you expect or want, but something that is authentic.
Eleanor’s new paintings are bold and beautiful, unassuming and challenging. Conceptually and aesthetically pleasing. Multiple elements play at ease on the canvas. There is an assured command of form and line, palette and blends. With a dialogue that reminds you of what matters; from the small often overlooked moments to significant shifts in your existence.
“This new exhibition ‘From The Bugler’s Pocket’ is redolent of the colour and crossfire of awakened thoughts and memories, and of the fierce burst of delight that comes from delving into an odd pocket and finding your old forgotten treasure there – even if it’s only a pound coin”.
Eleanor’s show opens on Saturday 12th March. Please Contact the Gallery for the full show brochure.