Find­ing beauty in a lost world

The Herald Magazine - - Arts VISUAL -

paint­ing”. Else­where in the ex­hi­bi­tion, there is an ex­am­ple of a rare 18th-cen­tury pin­prick paint­ing of a lady, in which her hands, face, feet and bas­ket are painted but her dress is made up of thou­sands of pin pricks, ar­ranged to sug­gest folds of fab­ric. The old rust­ing skates, which looked like they would have been suit­able for a child, are also on dis­play.

Drawn from the Past is not one of those ex­hi­bi­tions you might stum­ble across as it’s tucked away in the se­cond floor gal­leries space of Cal­len­dar House while the usual “Park Gallery” space on the ground floor is trans­formed into a Vic­to­rian Christ­mas won­der­land aimed at young peo­ple and fam­i­lies.

But when you get there, it’s like fall­ing, Alice in Won­der­land-like, into a par­al­lel uni­verse of Asquith-Lamb’s mak­ing.

Gil­lian Smith first came across the East Loth­ian-based artist’s del­i­cate and beau­ti­ful pa­per cuts around 10 years ago when she took part in a Win­ter Warmth ex­hi­bi­tion at the Park Gallery. Smith says: “I wanted to en­gage an artist who would be able to im­merse them­selves in the Cal­len­dar House ar­chives and re­spond in an in­ter­est­ing and thought-pro­vok­ing way. I re­mem­bered Tessa’s work and in­stinc­tively knew she was the right per­son for the job.

“At the open­ing of the ex­hi­bi­tion a few weeks ago, which was a joy­ous oc­ca­sion al­to­gether, one of Tessa’s friends came up to me and said it was as if her brain was on show in two rooms. She felt that it was the ex­hi­bi­tion Tessa had been itch­ing to do for years and that the in­vi­ta­tion to trawl the ar­chives had trig­gered a real out­pour­ing of her imag­i­na­tion.”

Asquith-Smith grad­u­ated from Ed­in­burgh Col­lege of Art in 1998. Since then, she has con­tin­ued to cre­ate her etch­ings and pa­per-cuts – of­ten in­clud­ing her trade­mark fox, Rey­nard – along­side work­ing as a free­lance art ed­u­ca­tor. Her work is in many pri­vate col­lec­tions and re­cently she was com­mis­sioned by the V&A Dundee with de­signer Martin Bail­lie to cre­ate a gi­ant pa­per-cut pop-up book.

As a child, her fa­ther used to al­low her to stay up late if she was draw­ing, and some of the etch­ings have a feel of a young girl doo­dling dream­ily in her bed­room.

The ex­hi­bi­tion’s show­stop­per was in­spired by a 19th-cen­tury pa­per cut cre­ated by a Camelon man called

H Knox in 1870. Asquith-Lamb found this in­tri­cate painted pa­per Valen­tine to­ken in the mu­seum stores and it prompted her to cre­ate her own ver­sions, fea­tur­ing items from the house along­side a new poem mir­ror­ing

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