William Crosbie: Centenary Exhibition / Lisa Hammond: Fire / Fourteen Glasgow Artists

Publication: The Times.   
January 2015

The painter, Bill Crosbie, who died in 1999 was an artist of prolific and diverse talent. In 1937, with a scholarship from Glasgow School of Art and the enlightened support of its principal, William Hutchison, Crosbie worked in the studio Fernand Léger, in Paris. This experience exerted a profound influence on Crosbie. His work began to adopt elements of Cubism and Surrealism ¾ influences which persisted throughout his life. Guitarist, from 1990, could well have been painted fifty years before, as could Anger, from 1991.

Crosbie was an artist of multiple talents with a bewildering range, which included landscape, still-life, illustration, wood carving and portraiture This lack of consistency has left him open to the criticism that he lacked a true identity. However, versatility and the ability to adapt to markets and tastes can also been seen as the strengths of a survivor who did not have the safety-net of an art school teaching post.

Crosbie also worked on a number of important public commissions, including a painted mural at the entrance to the Britain Can Make It exhibition at the V & A, London in 1946. Crosbie shared the talents of the muralist with Alasdair Gray whose work is shown here alongside that of thirteen other artists who studied at GSA, including Geoff Uglow, Pat Douthwaite, Joan Eardley and J. D. Fergusson.  (It was Léger who had introduced Fergusson and his wife Margaret Morris to Crosbie in Paris).

Since graduating in 2000, Uglow has gone on to make a spectacular success as a painter of vigorous, thick, textured oil paintings which retain as their core essence, the observation of light, sea and landscape. Lapis XV, from 2013, is rich and alive. A form, embedded in the paint, swirls and shimmers in quick, blue pigment.

Douthwaite’s imagery is almost always haunted, tortured and singular. Her angular, jerky lines appear to have been drawn with a trembling hand. Her pastel portraits of mysterious cat women, with luminous green eyes become seared into memory. Here, she manages to attribute such aspects to a drawing of an old Bentley, so that is appears not as a car but a menacing, living animal.

The gallery has a proud tradition of exhibiting applied art in the form of ceramics, jewellery and glass. Here the work of English potter Lisa Hammond makes a welcome return. Priced to sell, these sumptuous functional vessels ¾ mugs, bowls, plates, vases, jugs and other table-ware ¾ bear the unmistakable influence of the Japanese ceramic tradition. Hammond uses shino glazes to colour and texture many of her pots.  Shino (the name is applied both to the glaze and the genre of the pottery) originated in Japan in the 16th century where it was made in conjunction with anagama (wood-fired) kilns. The defining characteristic of shino is the red or white glaze and the marking caused by fragments of burning wood.

A valuable, long-standing institution in Scottish art world, the gallery has, once again, brought together a collection of diverse, colourful and beautif