In­formed de­ci­sions

Roger Bill­cliffe’s foot­ing within Glas­gow is shown in the range of his gallery’s choices, says Jack Mot­tram

The Herald - Arts - - Arts -

ROGERBILLCLIFFEGALLERY 134 Blythswood Street, Glas­gow 0141 332 4027 www.bill­clif­fe­ Mon-Fri 9.30am-5.30pm, Satur­day 10am-1pm

Though Roger Bill­cliffe opened the doors of his gallery in 1992, tak­ing over the build­ing that for­merly housed the Fine Art S o c i e ty of wh i c h h e w a s di­rec­tor, his as­so­ci­a­tion with the arts in Glas­gow stretches back to the late 1960s, when he first over­saw the art col­lec­tions at Glas­gow Univer­sity. Along the way, Bill­cliffe has pub­lished books ex­am­in­ing the legacy of the Glas­gow Boys and the Scot­tish Colourists, and a brace of highly re­garded works on Charles Ren­nie Mack­in­tosh.

This back­ground sets the tone for Bill­cliffe’s work at his own gallery, which spe­cialises in con­tem­po­rary and 20th­cen­tury paint­ing, with works cho­sen ac­cord­ing to sim­ple cri­te­ria. “I show work which ap­peals to me,” he says, “and I’m much more in­ter­ested in the painted and drawn than I am in the con­cep­tual.”

That is not to say that the Roger Bill­cliffe Gallery is a fuddy-duddy es­tab­lish­ment. Gallery Two is de­voted to bring­ing work by younger artists to wider at­ten­tion, and more chal­leng­ing work is at home here among the land­scapes, por­traits and still-lives.

The pro­gramme of cur­rent and forth­com­ing shows fur­ther re­flect the gallery’s gen­eral ethos. The main gallery is now play­ing host to the Land of the Moun­tain and the Flood, a group ex­hi­bi­tion that gath­ers to­gether work by gallery artists on the theme of the Scot­tish land­scape, from Bill Wright’s still, quiet wa­ter­colour views of Jura to Michael Cor­sar’s cloud stud­ies in oil, via the oddly trop­i­cal imag­in­ings of Jack Knox and Alma Wolf­son’s glow­er­ing skies.

Af­ter this show­case of es­tab­lished

Scot­tish artists, the gallery turns its at­ten­tion to the next gen­er­a­tion, with a show de­voted to new work by emerg­ing artists se­lected by Bill­cliffe as the cream of the crop of re­cent grad­u­ates. Then, to round out the year, the gallery will hold a set of solo ex­hibits from Mhairi McGre­gor, James Fullar­ton and Glen Scouller, be­fore mount­ing its an­nual post­card show, which of­fers a valu­able op­por­tu­nity for col­lec­tors to snap up works by artists whose fullscale can­vases com­mand high prices.

As well as the themed group shows, sup­port for young artists and the main busi­ness of solo shows of new work from the artists it rep­re­sents, Bill­cliffe also deals in craft, de­sign and ap­plied arts. Since 1994, di­rec­tor Lynn Park has built a solid rep­u­ta­tion for the gallery as a cen­tre for the best in ce­ram­ics, jew­ellery, met­al­work, sil­ver and glass, ini­tially by Bri­tish mak­ers, but with an in­creas­ingly in­ter­na­tional re­mit.

In­ter­est­ingly, rather than sim­ply stock­ing a range of work for sale, Bill­cliffe blurs the usual dis­tinc­tion be­tween fine and ap­plied art by mount­ing full shows by de­sign­ers, of­fer­ing vis­i­tors a chance to ap­pre­ci­ate their prac­tice as a whole. Re­cent high­lights in­clude Liz Tyler’s fluid, or­ganic and or­na­men­tal jew­ellery pieces in gold and plat­inum, and Alan Crax­ford’s mix of sim­ple forms, lux­u­ri­ous ma­te­ri­als and hand-en­graved pat­tern­ing.

Michael Cor­sar’s oil, Late in the Day, is at the gallery as part of the Land of the Moun­tain and the Flood

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