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James Klinge Exhibition

Glasgow artist James Klinge, renowned for some of the city’s finest street art under his old alias Klingatron, launches his first post alias solo show, introducing a new collection of outstanding figurative paintings. Expect nothing less than the man’s usual excellence! The stop-and-stare extreme detail of his stencil work, combined with the expressively painted marks just work so dam well. Join us on Cresswell Lane, Glasgow this Saturday 8th April from 2pm for an absolute visual treat.

See James Klinge’s artwork genius. All new work available in the gallery and online from Saturday.

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Eleanor Carlingford Solo Gallery Show

Distinctively loose and free, aesthetically tight and considered. Allow an alluring explosion of colours to pull you into the intriguing moments Eleanor Carlingford has confidently found with her latest body of work. It’s been a while, but it’s absolutely been worth the wait.

Please join us this Saturday (4th March) for the first look at her new collection of paintings. 2pm at Cresswell Lane, Glasgow, G12 8AA. All welcome. Drinks served.

Pre opening sales enquiries to [email protected] If you like what you see below then please email us now to reserve/discuss/buy.


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Interview with Felix Carr, Glasgow School of Art Graduate

figurative triptych

Our Best of Scottish Art Graduates Show is a highlight of our year, no questions asked. The exhibition sits at the very core of what we’re all about as a gallery, and never fails to introduce some serious talent looking to make waves.

To help introduce this year’s artists we’re doing a series of interviews to offer some additional insight into their work. First up is of Felix Carr, who graduated with a First Class Honours from the Glasgow School of Art.

Your work is really fresh with a moreish quality, and is an absolute pleasure to hang on our walls. People are intrigued by it, as are we, so please tell us more.

“My work seeks to dissect both imagistic and linguistic ambiguities in relation to archetypal painterly form and art historical narrative.”

To sum up, how would you describe your art to someone that has never seen it before in one sentence?

“Messy, but measured.”

You received the Hunt Medal at GSA – well done. We’d love to know more about the work that earned you this accolade.

“The Hunt medal is awarded on behalf of the Steven Campbell Trust for poetic creativity in the exhibited work of a graduating artist.”

And you also won the ‘GSA dissertation prize for fine art’ .

“I wrote on the significance of silence in regard to contemporary avant garde!”

How did your work develop throughout your time at GSA? Have you experimented with different styles and how did you end up where you are now?

“The work I’m producing now is a far cry from the salvaged street-detritus I painted on 4 years ago… no pics unfortunately (but that’s definitely for the best!)”

Where to now? Do you know how you want to develop as an artist? Are you going to continue to paint?

“Keep painting hopefully, until it makes sense. I’m missing the luxury of GSA studio’s – I’ve yet to find somewhere big enough for 6 foot + paintings that isn’t my bedroom.”

How do you feel about the art industry as someone starting out?

“I can’t say I know too much about it just yet, but I’m optimistic.”

Any last thoughts?

“Why was Van Gogh a painter? Because he didn’t have the ear for music.”

A punchy read quite befitting his artwork, which is in the gallery until the 7th August and online now. Also check out the other Graduates in this year’s show.

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Art of Glasgow, Scotland and celebrated writers at Waterstones

The latest work on our Waterstone’s wall is inspired by Glasgow, Scotland and celebrated writers, in amongst a few remaining favourites.

We introduce 3 new Glasgow based artists during the Commonwealth Games – Marcus Raynal Hislop, Jefrus and Kevin Hunter. Here’s a little more on each, just click their name to see more of their artwork. The new show is now open and awaiting your visit. You’ll find the artwork on the stairwells between ground level and the second floor.


Marcus Raynal Hislop

“Based on the Clyde, in the heart of Glasgow, I paint every day. I love making art whether on canvas, digitally or printed on t-shirts. Some would call it an obsession. I call it very healthy enthusiasm. I hope you like my work.”


An artist of Austrian and Irish descent although born in the rain soaked city of Glasgow on the West coast of Scotland. Jefrus makes these pictures of Glasgow and Edinburgh (two cities he has lived and worked in). He likes to depict the familiar and iconic places that his feet have taken him in and out of, so there’s a fair number of pubs and cafes. It came about from an idea about places harbouring memories. A picture of a place can mean a thousand different memories to a thousand different people and its fun to swap stories.

Kevin Hunter

Born and raised in a small ship building town called Greenock, about 30 miles west of Glasgow, Scotland. Kevin has been painting since the age of 10. Having studied Interior Design in Glasgow, his background adds an interesting dimension to the artworks. He achieved national design awards during his studies and after graduating worked in the field of film and theatre set design, eventually finding himself interested solely in painting. The contemporary artworks vary from representational to abstract atmospheric oil paintings depicting Scotland’s landscapes. Influences include travel, film and music and perhaps most of all, Scotland’s beautiful ever changing scenery. You will also find sections on travels such as Europe and further afield.


Waterstones is located at 153-157 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow, G2 3EW and is open Mon-Wed 08.30-19.00, Thu 08.30-20.00, Fri 08.30-19.00, Sat 09.00-19.00 and Sun 10.00-18.00. If you’ve not been in before you should take a look. The place is massive; you could spend days, weeks, and months in there like a book loving fly caught in a web of books, thousands of books!

Enjoy the show and sign-up to be first to hear about our upcoming exhibitions at Waterstones. Remember all artists’ work is available to buy online too.

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Art Pistol’s Grad Show 2015 – Scotland’s Best


We have walked 500 miles (mainly driven though) to visit the hundreds of Scottish Art School Graduates in 2015… and now we’d like to introduce you to just 9 of them. Our best of the best. Their crazy, colourful, beautiful, and emotionally super-charged worlds collide in our stunning annual Graduate Show. Big red cocks, burnt crows, seas of ice cream, haunting portraiture, landscape mash ups, synaesthesia and more. You will like. Come see.

Usual gallery opening times apply. On all July.

General Opening Hours: Wed-Fri 10-5.30 / Sat & Sun 11-5

Where: Cresswell Lane, Glasgow, G12 8AA. MAP


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Winter Show Opening Night


Come join us on Thursday 13th November for a very fresh serving of the hottest new work from some Art Pistol favourites and the very best new artistic finds. Open from 17.30 to 20.00 ish. Drinks and music – of course. We’re doing big and bold, beside small and affordable art. So some serious decisions will be made for Xmas shopping.

General Opening Hours: Wed-Fri 10-5.30 / Sat & Sun 11-5

Where: Cresswell Lane, Glasgow, G12 8AA. MAP

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Top Ten Art Robberies

Please note this isn’t a ‘how-to’ guide.

First up is the Mona Lisa’s theft from the Louvre. On August 21, 1911 the art world was rocked when, arguably, one of the most well known pieces of art was stolen from its home in Paris. The week following the theft saw the whole museum close down in order to aid the police in their investigation and when it was opened flowers were even placed at the scene of the crime. Two years passed and still nothing had been found – even Pablo Picasso had been questioned after the main suspect tried to implicate him. As art lovers became more and more baffled conspiracy theories and speculation was rife, including rumours that it was a museum cover-up after they had accidentally destroyed it.

However, as you know, the artwork was found. It came down to the work of museum employee Vincenzo Peruggia and I hate to say it, but there were no machine guns or ninja style laser dodging, it was all pretty simple. Peruggia entered the museum in normal opening hours and then hid in a broom cupboard until the famous gallery closed up for the day. He then took the Mona Lisa out of its spot and hid it under his jacket, leaving without being detected. It wasn’t until he tried to sell it to the Uffizi Gallery that he was rumbled. However, it wasn’t money that the thief was after; he was an Italian patriot and believed that the piece should be returned to Italy. Once he was captured he was praised throughout Italy and served six months in jail while Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was displayed throughout Italy before being returned to the Louvre.

Mona Lisa Theft

Missing Mona Lisa

2 – The Scream

Expressionist artist Edvard Munch created four versions of the iconic image, The Scream, which has become one of the worlds most recognisable. One of these versions was nabbed on February 12, 1994. It was on the same day as the opening of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer that two men broke into the National Gallery in Oslo and stole the famous piece of artwork. After climbing a ladder and smashing their way in through a window, they even, cheekily, left a note saying “Thanks for the poor security”. The Gallery refused to pay the ransom money demanded and eventually a sting operation recovered the kidnapped piece.

This version wasn’t the only version to be targeted by art thieves though and another piece of the series was taken from the Munch Museum in Oslo on August 22, 2004. It was during the day that robbers entered, using guns to threaten the security and visitors. The suspects were arrested, but there was no painting and a huge reward was offered for any information given. After the theft the museum closed for 10 months for a security re-designs, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger eh! Eventually the missing piece was found in 2006, but little detail was given by the police in the events leading up to the recovery.

The Scream

A fortune telling piece depicting the gallery staff’s reactions

3 – Stephen Hahn Art Gallery

Art dealer Stephen Hahn had a collection of pretty impressive pieces on display in his Madison Avenue gallery, but on November 17, 1969 he fell victim to art thieves. In total seven pieces were taken, including work from Monet, Pissarro and Roualt, all together having an estimated value of $500,000. The robbers managed to pick, what Hahn has boasted was, an ‘unpickable’ lock – just don’t ever set any kind of thief a challenge like that. They forced their way in and grabbed the loot. The irony was that at the time Hahn was with the Art Dealers Association of America, where the topic of the evening was the recent art theft in the city – awkward. But, at least Hahn had a sense of humour about the whole debacle and joked that the thieves were very “conservative” in their taste and had left some stand-out pieces from the likes of Picasso – if you don’t laugh you’ll cry.

4 – Russborough House

The Irish estate of the late Sir Alfred Beit has been unlucky enough to have been subjected to a grand total of four robberies! The first happened in 1974 by members of the IRA. The thieves forced their way into the grand house and bound and gagged the family members, before stealing the prized artwork right in front of them. In total the 19 paintings they took reached an estimated £8 million and the perpetrators wanted to make a deal – the paintings in exchange for prisoners. The gang was led by Rose Dugdale and the supposed lady in charge was on the hunt for some monetary gain, as well as the release of her boyfriend from jail. However, they had no luck and all the pieces were found, along with the captured thieves.

The next robbery happened in 1986 by a Dublin gang led by Mark Cahill, ‘The General’. They thieved 18 paintings, by the likes of Vermeer, Goya and Rubens, with an estimated value of £30 million. In the end 16 were returned, but two were never to be recovered. They were found all over the place, with some being discovered as far flung as Holland and Turkey.

In 2001 Russborough house was struck again when three armed men smashed in the front door with their vehicle, before setting it on fire and making off with two paintings worth £3 million. One was a Gainsborough, which had also been taken in Cahill’s raid – leading many people at the time to speculate that the man in charge was an associate. Pretty soon the paintings were recovered and put back in their rightful place. But it didn’t take long for disaster to strike again…

It was only three days (yes three days!) after the 2001 stolen pieces were returned that the house was robbed yet again. In 2002 another five paintings were taken from Russborough, worth £31 million. It all ends well again though and the paintings were all recovered and so far there has been no more robberies!

Russborough House

A popular destination for art “enthusiasts”

5 – Musée Marmottan Monet

It was on October 28, 1985, during the day when masked men with pistols stormed the Musée Marmottan Monet, in Paris. They took nine paintings, the most important being Impression, Sunrise by Monet, which is said to have inspired the entire Impressionism movement. Security and visitors were threatened by the thieves as they made off with five other paintings by Monet and also work by Renoir. In the aftermath the police were lead to a Japanese gangster named Shuinichi Fujikuma and it transpired that while serving time in a French prison he had met up with Philippe Jamin and Youssef Khimon and the three had planned the theft. From this lead the stolen paintings were tracked down in Corsica five years later.

Claude Monet, Impression,Sunrise

Inspired thieves as much as the Impressionist movement

6 – Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

In 1990 on March 18 the largest art theft in history took place at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. In total 13 pieces were taken worth an estimated $300 million. The robbers thieved Vermeer’s The Concert – which is the most valuable stolen painting ever – as well as works by Manet, Rembrandt and Degas. It was during St Patrick’s Day celebrations that the art criminals dressed themselves as Boston police officers, before making their way into the museum, claiming that they were responding to a call about a disturbance. When they got in they “arrested” the security guards on duty, claiming they had a warrant for their arrest – moving them away from the alert button, which was the only quick way to get in touch with the real police. It was only when the two realised that they weren’t really going to prison that they were wrapped up in duct tape, with only holes left for breathing, and hand-cuffed to pipes in the basement. The thieves then made off with all the art they needed, even making two trips in their getaway car.

It wasn’t until the next morning that the guards were found and the robbery was realised. All these years later it still remains a ‘whodunnit’ mystery and none of the work has been returned. Empty frames still hang in the gallery as a homage, and as a promise that one day they’ll get them back. The museum put out a $5,000, 000 reward for any information, which still stands now – so get hunting!

The Concert Vermeer, Isabella Stewart Gardner

The most valuable painting ever stolen!

7 – National Museum Stockholm

This was a robbery in which the perpetrators knew exactly what they were doing, with details meticulously planned out. On December 22, 2000 one Rembrandt and two Renoir paintings, with an estimated value of £30 million were taken from the museum in Stockholm. Three armed men broke in and, suspiciously, at the same time that the alarm was sounded two car bombs went off at opposite ends of the town, creating the ideal diversion. As the police scattered they grabbed the artwork whilst placing spikes on the roads leading to the museum, so that they wouldn’t be disturbed too soon, then they fled using a moored speed-boat – James bond style. The chaos that had been created meant that they had time to carry out the crime and escape with their spoils. The thieves demanded a ransom, but only two weeks later, eight men were arrested and convicted, but it took a little longer for the art to return with all the pieces being recovered by 2005.

National Museum, Stockholm

The James Bond of art robberies

8 – Stephane Breitwieser

Stephane Breitweiser didn’t need all the show when it came to his thieving, just a loud girlfriend and love of art. In total he stole 239 pieces of artwork and other exhibits. But, Stephane is a little different from the machine-gun-wielding gangs and stole, not for financial gain, but so that he could build his own huge personal collection, he says he stole for his love of art. Between 1995 and 2001 he managed to amass over 200 pieces of work, stealing each with a pretty simple approach. His then girlfriend Anne-Catherine Kleinklaus kept a look-out or caused a distraction, whilst he carefully took the artwork off the wall. He kept it all in his bedroom in his mother’s house, making sure it was dimly lit so as not to damage the work, and apparently his mother didn’t suspect any funny business!

He was first caught in 1997 as he was stopped at his getaway car with a stolen piece, with another nicked artwork also hiding in the back. Because it was his first offence in Switzerland he was sentenced to an eight-month suspended sentence and banned from returning to the country for three years. However he continued to travel there under his mother’s name, carrying on stealing to build up his collection.

In November, 2001 he was finally nailed. He was in Lucerne, Switzerland when he stole a bugle dating back to 1584, but after being spotted he managed to escape. It was only two days later when he returned to the same museum and was recognised by a journalist walking his dog, Erich Eisner alerted the guards and Breitweiser was finally arrested. As a thank you the Swiss authorities even rewarded Eisner’s dog with a lifetime supply of food.

When Breitwieser’s mother heard about the arrest she went on a rampage, destroying the work in the huge, stolen collection. She shredded paintings and threw exhibits into the nearby canal, out of what she said was anger over her son’s dishonesty, but police speculated it was an attempt to hide the evidence. In the end 110 pieces were recovered, with 60 unaccounted for and others destroyed – and all three of them spent time in the cells.

Stéphane Breitwieser

This guy stole 239 artworks

9 – Museu da Chácara do Céu

The city of Rio de Janeiro was buzzing with bright costumes, sparkling dancers and crowds in their hundreds – the ideal setting for an art robbery. On February 24, 2006 Man of a Sickly Complexion Listening to the Sound of the Sea by Salvador Dalí, The Dance by Pablo Picasso, Luxembourg Gardens by Henri Matisse and Marine by Monet, all disappeared from the Museu da Chácara do Céu. The gunmen stole an estimated total of £30 million worth of artwork, by threatening the staff and visitors, ushering them into the security office, where they disconnected the cameras and destroyed any tapes that might have already caught them out. Before they made off with their spoils they even made sure to rob the museum visitors, which they had no doubt already terrified! A security guard on his way in to start a shift tried to wrestle the Picasso out of their hands, but he was promptly hit over the head with a weapon and the thieves stole away. The party atmosphere – filled with fancy dress and masks – meant that in the confusion and chaos the perpetrators could easily hide amongst the revellers, taking advantage of the carnival parade. To this day the paintings still haven’t been recovered.

Rio de Janiero carnival

Were you in Rio on February 24th 2006?

10 – São Paulo Museum of Art

Two of the reportedly most valuable paintings in the entire museum were stolen on December 20, 2007. The São Paulo Museum of Art housed the Portrait of Suzanne Bloch by Picasso and O lavrador de café by Cândido Portinari, with a combined estimated value of £28 million. The whole operation took only three minutes once the gang of masked men entered using a hydraulic jack to force open the door and grab what they were after, timing it exactly when the guards changed shift. The security of the museum came under fire, as there were no movement sensors and the cameras had no infra-red capability, it also turned out that the paintings weren’t even insured. During the investigation the museum remained closed, but they didn’t take long to recover the stolen pieces and they were found on January 8, 2008 all in perfect condition. Since then the security has, obviously, been improved.

Sao Paulo Museum of Art

Where’s the door?

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The Art of Working with an Artist

Artist Eleanor Carlingford has a collection on Art Pistol filled with expressive works that are rich in mood, combined with a focus on identity. Some of her pieces include work on the Celts, marrying in an element of history and tradition, and all are particular to Eleanor herself – so what happens when you introduce another artist into the mix?

Eleanor opened up her artistic world to us and told the story of her research trip to Italy – a trip that she shared with artist Jill Carter. She explains that she met Jill in an “odd way” and the two connected after Jill e-mailed Eleanor saying “I like your drawings, I think artistically we have a lot in common”. Eleanor and Jill spoke of how they both worked and ended up embarking on a shared artistic experience – not something that all creatives would happily do.

Eleanor Carlingford and Jill Carter

Eleanor Carlingford (left) & Jill Carter (right)

“We met up for tea and cake and realised we had a great deal to exchange about our work. Some artists don’t talk about their work processes, we did. Jill subsequently won a travel bursary to Italy for an Art Trip and just about that time, I had an offer of a house in which to stay in Italy, so, obviously I invited myself on Jill’s trip!” And the rest, as they say, is history.

Wee wee casa with me working

Eleanor working by the house

The two artists had made a clear connection through their work and shared the ideal of a “story” in their art. Eleanor explained that they both, “make and draw in order to find out and dream into a story”. A whimsical approach established the Sybils soon became the focus of the trip.

“We heard that the Sybils had been inspired women who lived in the mountains of The Marque region on Italy where we were going to stay. They had been soothsayers, storytellers and had predicted the birth of Christ amongst other things. So this was a starting place for our work”.

As well as both having the same vision when it came to stories and the Sybils, Eleanor also talked about how the pair worked together, using a table in the garden of their Italian home and making sure it was covered from head to toe “protecting it from every conceivable happening our artistic proceedings might involve.” They found similarities in this way, also discovering that the two of them were “both very messy”.

However, where there are similarities there are also differences. Jill described their first foray into joint projects as they made dolls inspired by the Sybils,

“Jill made a doll too – hers much softer and more womanly, mine a bit wild and loud. Jill’s was formed on a fabulous brush bought in a local market. Jill painstakingly stitched into her doll. I wildly cobbled mine together with wood and thread and names I saw on old Italian frescoes stitched into a skirt around the pitchfork legs”.

inside the studio with maquette and drawing

Doll bottom right in front of artwork in the studio

Although there had been similarities, artistic differences were not hard to spot from early on, tying in nicely with the themes of identity and story-telling. Each artist has their own story to tell, and their art is how they do this, giving each piece an individual flair and style that no-one else can possess. Eleanor explains it saying: “already our works were resembling ourselves and our own stories. This is the way in which art research evolves”. Subjects can be the same, but soon the individual stamp and personal story of the artist will start to emerge and evolve with the project – Eleanor’s work was “wild” while Jill’s was “softer” and the styles can come to reflect the individual.

Despite, artistic differences we can always learn from watching others,

“I taught Jill Japanese woodblock printing, making printed images of our dolls and other artefacts. Jill taught me about how she works – a flippin’ kleptomaniac when it comes to collection – she was like a magpie, plucking up mementoes and trinkets throughout our experiences. Surprisingly, my collections need to be more sparse otherwise I get visual overload”.

Jill’s collecting habit could prove to be a good skill to have as Eleanor explained what’s in an artist’s toobox: “Artists need stuff. People are inclined to believe that we have huge imaginations. This is actually not the case, there is very little in our heads. What we as artists are adept at doing is making, collecting, drawing and recording, and above all, making connections to bring together threads of a theme.” The process that Jill describes, the “collecting” and the “recording”, are part of what gives art an individual stamp, an identity akin to that of the artist’s, “All this ‘stuff’ is processed though ourselves (autobiography) and spat out the other end in the form of work.”

Everything that the two artists needed was waiting to be found as they scoured the Italian countryside, joining the dots for the story of the Sybils and each coming up with something unique – however this doesn’t mean that it was a trip that came without difficulties.

“All this time we were living together and I was doing the driving… we had to shop, cook and eat together. Am I painting a picture here…? All this was hard going. I discovered we had very different tastes when it came to many things, including eating. The culmination came when – having consulted, I gleefully bought 500 grams of fresh anchovies. By the next day they had disappeared from the fridge, and I hadn’t even had a chance to open the box”.

The anchovies incident happened, not once, but twice, much to Eleanor’s dismay and she “could only conclude that Jill did not actually like anchovies”.

This begs the question, did personal preferences take back-seat to the artistic developments – as everything on the art side was working perfectly – “We were hesitant with each other when it came to challenge on the personal front. This was mainly, I believe, because the creative side was going so well, and we were both dedicated to that aspect”.

You can be as dedicated as you like, but things never run smoothly and on the hunt for the Sybils Eleanor and Jill found that many churches in the region were locked, eating up a lot of their time searching for the key-holder and even having to return another day on some occasions. Even when they did get in it wasn’t plain sailing.

“This was a bit stressful as we wanted to sketch and mess around in a semi-creative way, and it is difficult when a custodian is mutely standing guard.”

The pair scoured the churches of the region coming up with everything – even “St Lucy with her eyes in the palm of her hand – close, but no cigar” – on the chase for the wise woman of Italy. However, again, once they successfully located their inspiration – and been mightily impressed by what they found, – things were a little more difficult than expected.

“When, finally we discovered paintings of the Sybils themselves on the ceiling of a church we were beside ourselves with excitement. Not only was it proof that they had existed, but they were fabulous women who had impressed the Catholic Church hierarchy sufficiently to have images of themselves painted on the ceiling of Santa Maria Maggiore in Spello – more elevated than saints and deceased bishops. Furthermore, the women were beautiful, sexy, young, attractive and well dressed. I lay on the floor of the chapel to draw them, but the brusque Italian attendant was having none of that!”

The trip came to its conclusion with a joint exhibition in Trasimeno, in a studio of a deceased artist that they had hired for the week. Just as had happened from the beginning, each artists work was unique and individual to their personalities, telling their own story on a matching muse.

“We curated our work in silence, immersed in the subject matter and our individual interpretation of it.” Although each outcome was “individual” it had started as a joint project and collaboration could be seen in some aspects of the final exhibition: “We had a sound installation where Jill had recorded me singing one of my own songs in a deserted basilica – a rare opportunity”.

And so the research trip came to an end and the artists that shared the creative space had learnt that sometimes, personal preferences may have to take a back seat where art is involved – not everyone can eat 500 grams of fresh anchovies – but Eleanor did describe what she had got out of the Italian adventure.

“And so I incorporate the story of the Sybils into my own life experience and as a result I cut and paste images from our trip with elements of my studio work. Plenty of work has yet to emerge based on my 3 week Italian sojourn.”

Eleanor also currently has some work in our Cresswell Lane gallery, following the theme of “personal identity. How we develop a sense of who we are and how we function in the world”.

“The images in the gallery at the moment are images of a nautical world seen through the eyes of a young figure. It is as if a young person had been placed in a boat, with the nautical journey a metaphor for the journey through life. The child is overwhelmed in this world with his/her surroundings, intrigued, excited and bewildered by turns – making progress forward through tides, undercurrents and moment of being becalmed. In life, do we have an inner pilot – or are we guided by external lights and beacons? The similarity with all our life stories is extensible.”

Pop down to the gallery or have a look on the website for a selection of Eleanor’s work.


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Sam’s Islands

We all dream of winning the lottery and buying our own paradise island, don’t we? But Sam Caldwell, a graduate artist, as gone one step further and has created his own set, the Cairnsbruck Islands. Although they’re not perhaps the most idyllic, they still give you the sense of travelling to somewhere that’s just a bit different, with their own set of rules and inherent culture.

The collection, built up of small pieces, shows the almost dull everyday life on the fictional, northerly islands in gloomy watercolour paints. And Sam chatted to Art Pistol all about the inspiration behind the imaginary islands and what’s next for him in the art world.

AP: What’s the inspiration behind your work?

SC: My most recent body of work is inspired by a fictional group of islands which I have been trying to populate and record the history of. I call them the Cairnsbruck Islands.

How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it before?

I often tell people that I make small watercolour paintings of grumpy looking people in pubs. I’m not sure that entirely covers it, but it seems to give people a sense of what I do!

Sam Caldwell Artist Studio


Home studio

What is it about island life that interests you?

Some of the times when I have felt my most inspired have definitely been on boats heading towards islands. I don’t really know what it is exactly, but that experience of leaving the mainland and travelling somewhere which often seems to be another world really excites me. I think that islands have a lot going for them conceptually as well. They’re often these extreme microcosms of geography, weather and society, which seem to breed eccentricity. As someone who has only ever visited these places as a tourist I’m perhaps guilty of romanticising island life. This is part of the reason I chose to invent my own islands, rather than trying to document real places.

Sam Caldwell ECA Artist Studio


Painting in progress

Does each piece have a story in mind?

Each piece is intended to sit alongside one another and tell the larger story of life on the Cairnsbruck Islands. Sometimes I make comics or pieces with a prescribed narrative, but more often than not it’s an atmosphere which I am trying to create. I like the idea of the viewer conjuring up their own stories.

How do you pick your subjects? Are you looking for a particular mood or emotion?

The characters that inhabit my work are often inspired by photographs; I’m particularly inspired by Social Realist photographers like Tom Wood and John Bulmer. Sometimes they are based on people I pass in the street or see in cafes and other times they are completely invented. There is definitely a recurring mood throughout my pictures, but I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily an intentional thing; they just seem to end up that way!

Talk us through the process of creating a piece.

I will usually start with a couple of images I have found in an old National Geographic or in a book online somewhere. I’ll faintly sketch out some kind of composition and then start building up layers of watercolour. I add most of the details and shading in with graphite and then use a spray varnish to flatten the picture and get rid of the graphite shine.

What are your plans now that you’ve graduated?

I am moving down to London next month with my girlfriend and a couple of friends. Hopefully I will find some places to exhibit and sell my work!

Do you have any fears and what are you looking forward to in stepping out on your own away from University?

I am excited about setting up a home studio and trying to get into doing some more illustrative work. My biggest worry at the moment is how the move down South will affect the kind of images I make. Everything I have made over the past four years has been inspired by Scottish landscapes and a sense of Northern-ness, so it’ll be interesting to see how my new location affects things.

So far what has been your toughest challenge and biggest achievement in connection to your work?

The toughest challenge so far has been installing my degree show. I built a kind of ramshackle hut, which was filled with my paintings and drawings. I can also say that it was probably my biggest achievement too!

What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I am working on some new painting for an exhibition in Suffolk next month. I’m also getting together some pieces for a show at the RSA in January with the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour.

Sam’s work showing island life in the imaginary Cairnsbruck Islands in hanging in the Cresswell Lane gallery – and it will soon be available online as well.

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Supporting the recently graduated and emerging artist

They’ve worn their fingers to the bone putting together the art work of their life – so far anyway – and their parents, siblings, Aunties and Granddads have grinned with justified smiles of pride, but what comes next in the world of the art graduate? It can be a daunting time in an artist’s life as they shut the door on their much loved University studio and now embark on their ‘grown-up’ life, trying to find their way into the temperamental and confusing art world.

For most, being an artist isn’t all about earning, however it can feel like it when your law-graduate-friend is high-flying it and you’re still on value gin, counting pennies for paintbrushes. Yet, it’s now more important than ever for artists to hang on in there and not give up on their artistic careers. One of the best ways is to keep busy; get back to enjoying creating, network and always feel involved in the art industry.

This time in an artist’s career is not for fading into the background and is a chance for them to furiously raise their profile, building up a network – of fans, buyers and galleries – and launching themselves into the industry in the best possible way. Graduate artists need to stand-out and promote themselves and their talent, getting their work out there and seen. Easier said than done right? In a way yes, but this is why new artists need support and a platform that can help them make their mark. For many it takes a lot of confidence to put their work out there and support can help ten-fold.

On one hand a buyer can see graduate work as a valuable investment. It is unique, original and is new talent on the art scene and in turn could be a profitable purchase. Art collectors have been known to keep an eye on graduate shows, with the possibility that they might spy the ‘next-big-thing’. Saatchi has been known to spend thousands snapping up graduate art exhibitions. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune to make a profit. The Telegraph reports on two such instances when Josie McCoy sold work in her graduate degree show back in 1999 for a mere £250 and it is now worth “ten times that amount”. Another example was Daisy Clarke, graduating in 2008 she parted with her pieces for £350 and only two years later they were up to £900 (this was back in 2010). But, remember it’s not all about the money and you should adore the art as well – of course, prices can decrease as much as they increase.

Art school has provided graduates with a whole host of abilities that they wouldn’t have previously had; they are given the opportunity to learn new skills, through the readily-available equipment and teaching, new ideas and inspirations are nurtured in a creative environment as they are encouraged to look at their work in new ways. Art students are always developing and evolving as they are challenged and pushed, alongside having a clear focus and direction. Their work in the degree show, as well as subsequent exhibitions, is their best work up to this point and is the pinnacle of their artistic efforts so far. You should be sure to look into the quality of the artist; their style should show character and be unique, displaying a committed and passionate individual.

Predictably moving away from the comfort of University graduates can find themselves left feeling a bit overwhelmed. The Degree Show is over and everything that they once had supplied – materials, guidance and even time – is taken away. However, although there is a lot of uncertainty the artistic community is one that wants to help out, promoting emerging talent and working to get it recognised.

That’s where Art Pistol recently stepped in. 15° is a show filled with – accordingly – 15 new graduates from the top four Art Schools from around Scotland. All the artists are talented and unique with interesting and intriguing pieces being put on display. This is also the first time that Art Pistol has shown jewellers and the two graduates chosen create some truly stunning pieces.

The standard on display is high and most who wander in to the little gallery, don’t question or notice a difference from the more established artists to the graduates. It is only when they have been told about the premise of the show that they know. It usually invites intrigued “oooohs” and “ahhhhs” and adds something extra to the art on the wall. They can feel like they are involved in something new and exciting, which they are.

Hannah Grace Ryan, one of our first jewellers, spoke to us about losing the support of the University studio, explaining that she’ll miss everyone working together, but in stepping out on her own she hopes that “the great unknown will inspire me to stay motivated and productive”. She also notes how these kinds of exhibitions can provide vital insight, with their feedback, and can help to lead them on where they want to go next. For Hannah this entails designing and making “a more wearable range of rings, brooches and neckpieces based on my degree show work. I hope that this more accessible range will inspire clients to look at my exhibition pieces and will enable me to make bigger and bolder work in the future”. Graduate exhibitions can act as stepping stones while emerging artists find their feet and what happens now can shape the future.

Graduate artist Romy Galloway sums it up saying: “Set-ups like Art Pistol, that are giving Scottish graduates a platform are a great thing to have, by making the art world accessible they are the type of people that make Scottish, and in particular Glasgow, art community so great”. Why thankyou.

Some more than others need a bit of extra support this year, as graduates from Glasgow School of Art faced a devastating incident. In May just weeks before the Degree Show a fire tore through the iconic Mackintosh building, final year students were left with damaged work and entire pieces destroyed. This would be a shattering shock in itself, but it also meant that students faced the double blow of losing out on their launch into the art world and the chance to be ‘discovered’ – so to speak – in their final year Show. However, as artists do, they’ve found inspiration in the destruction and now their art has a unique, if not distressing story behind it and some bear the marks of a personal tragedy – meaning that buyers can have a little bit of history and become part of the story as it takes a positive turn.

Priscilia Kheng, a Glasgow School of Art graduate now has work with us – including damaged pieces – and she remains positive as life moves own stating she’s now gained an “artistic maturity” and is looking forward to stepping into the big wide world. From here she can only grow and expand and she hopes to further her artistic network by trying out new things, including residencies and exhibitions.

After the victory of graduation what’s next for these artists and for many there’s definitely an anxiety in stepping-out on their own. But, the rewards for those that take the plunge can be extraordinary, humbling and guaranteed to put a smile back on their faces. It must be a triumphant feeling when a complete stranger buys your work of art, appreciating what you’ve created and commending your efforts. It’s important, as well as a little bit lovely, for the artists to know that there are other people – who aren’t students, professors, tutors or their mum – who are enjoying and admiring their art. They need this support and confidence boost in the early days, so that they can go on and paint every day.

This all means that brand new and emerging artists can carry on doing something that they love. They are all putting themselves out there in the hope that they’ll be appreciated and one of their first buyers can become part of a special relationship – an early supporter and someone who championed them to keep going. So we can all revel in that warm, fuzzy feeling that you’ve helped a Bambi-eyed graduate on their road to success, helping them to continue to their artistic career.

We can’t predict the future – the Magic 8 ball broke – but come down to Cresswell Lane and see what you make of the graduates work. Also keep an eye out on the blog for the full interviews with a selection of the ex-students, all about their inspiration and aspirations.