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Since the New Year we have been meeting virtually and enjoying sharing some art stories. Here are some of the contributions from our last meeting, where we were discussing animals in art.


One of my favourite contemporary artists is “local” artist, Peter Goodfellow. Originally from the north east of England, he studied art in London, and started his professional career as a freelance illustrator, making an international name for himself in the field of book jacket, advertising and packaging design. One of his best known images is the crossed fingers of the National Lottery. In the mid nineties, he and his wife moved to Scotland and he concentrated on painting, mainly landscapes, but he is an accomplished artist in many styles. They run the Lost Gallery, several miles up Glen Nochty in Strathdon, where he exhibits his own work alongside an impressive collection of contemporary painting, photography and sculpture by Scottish artists.

We are fortunate to own two of his paintings; a beautiful snowy panorama of the Cairngorm plateau, and this Nuthatch, which we bought from Gallery Heinzel just before the latest Lockdown.


A few years ago I visited the Tandanya Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Adelaide, South Australia to see art by different Aboriginal communities. I particularly liked “Journey of the Coastal Koori” depicting the route of the Worimi people from the sea to an inland area where they traded ochre. Aboriginal art uses paints made from ground-up seeds, plants and insects, in red, white, brown, yellow, blue and green. They often depict a journey, real or imagined, featuring a map with animals, landscapes, waterholes and the route. Traditionally painting was done directly onto the ground or on rocks and not protected in any way. Thus the transient quality of Aboriginal art expresses its deeper spiritual meaning, reflecting existence – it is not bounded by time or space, or by what is real or dreamed.

Margaret Smith

While on a trip to Jurong Bird Park, Singapore, I photographed the Black Francolin. This is the Male of the species and is native to India, usually found in long grass and along canal banks. I painted the bird in Alkyd Oils and glued the feathers, which I found laying around the area, on the wings. The park had over 3,000 exotic birds.

Animals Featured in Berardos Pottery: This Portuguese vase, found in an English antique shop and probably dating from the 1970’s, is hand painted with a XVIIth century folk art design featuring whimsical animals set among flowers, foliage and castles. People in Portugal have worked clay since prehistory and Berardos is a well-known pottery which opened in 1884. These features of animals, exotic birds, busy, intricate foliage and patterned borders found on a wide range of decorative pieces and in a variety of glazes make this style of pottery very distinctive.


Although Janet was not able to take part in the Zoom session she has sent me a beautiful painting she did of her last cat Tabitha (Tabby) . I love the detail of colour and texture of her coat and such a sweet expression too. Janet said she was a lovely cat, she died in July last year. Janet’s latest cat is called 2B!


I don’t think I can say I have a favourite artist on any theme. It is very much an emotional response at the time and can be entirely different from one week to the next although there are some which remain firm favourites.

Here is an image which is not a painting but a double exposure photograph of a animal by an artist I have just come across. I love the story and location within just the animal itself. Is there an idea here for the artists of EDAG – highland hills within a stag perhaps…… forest within wildcat….? ANDREAS LIE is a Norwegian visual artist who merges verdant landscapes and photographs of animals to creates subtle double exposure portraits. Snowy mountain peaks and thick forests become the shaggy fur of wolves and foxes, and even the northern lights appear through the silhouette of a polar bear. Lie is undoubtedly influenced by his surroundings in Bergen, Norway, a coastal city surrounded by seven mountains.

Margaret Wallace

The Barn Owl picture was made as part of a two day workshop on Batik. This was the 2nd item I made. The tutor had brought along a picture of a Barn Owl and I decided to try to copy that, not realising the challenge this involved. The material was stretched on a frame and the image sketched. Molten wax was painted on where the white areas were to be. Because there were such large areas of white/pale on the bird different pale blues and pinks had to be used. I found it difficult to “paint” the pale parts first, and if you missed an area, it was too late! The pale blue dye was washed over the whole picture, then wax was painted on using metal pens, before pale pink was applied. In this way, applying wax and progressively darker dyes alternatively, the picture was “painted”. As well as not adding wax in the correct order there were also times that the colour was wrong because some wax dripped onto the canvas inadvertently! There are many faults with it, but I’m very glad I did it.

Neil Simone

Neil Simone was born in London, but was captivated by the Yorkshire Dales and has lived and painted there for many years. He is entirely self taught and produces work of great imagination. Although originally inspired by the scenery of the Yorkshire Dales, his paintings encompass a huge range of subjects, using many different techniques. His style is distinctive and unusual, and has brought him international acclaim

Fragile Balance


 Southwold Gallery, Suffolk

This painting in water colour and acrylic depicts the windswept marshes at Walberswick, near to the sea side town of Southwold. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, the marshes were drained and used as farmland, they were flooded during the 2nd world war to act as invasion defences and in the 40’s and 50’s they once again reverted to marshes, creating a range of habitats which remain to this day. The area has now become the Suffolk Coast National Nature Reserve and it lies within the Minsmere – Walberswick Heaths and Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest.

On honeymoon, in Southwold, we wandered in to a large shed –like building crammed with paintings and ceramics rather haphazardly displayed where space could be found. The Grey Winds painting fascinated us both and as we gazed up at it, for it was hanging several feet up, Franic, the artist came over to us. He was pleased with our choice and was quite dismissive of the boats and harbour scenes that he needed to paint to satisfy the tourist market and to earn his living. We settled on our painting at a cost of £20, leaving us with just £20 more to last us the holiday and pay our petrol home and it was only Monday.

We had a fascinating tour of his workshop and then out of the blue Franic said he believed we were musicians, (which actually was the case) and we must come to his home for supper and a musical evening.

We learned that Franic had escaped Poland when the Germans and Russians invaded in1939, and had eventually reached Britain where he served with the R.A.F.  During an E.N.S.A. concert he fell madly in love with the soloist, the notable Wagnerian singer, Maud Heaton, pursued her, and eventually they were married.  After demob, in order to launch his painting/ceramics career, he decided to hire the top floor of a local department store, fill it with art and ceramics and wait to see if he could realize his dream. His huge effort paid off, sales were good and the Southwold Gallery was born.

Maud and Franic’s home, much of it designed and built by Franic himself reflected their great artistic talents with hand painted ceramic tiles adorning the bathroom and kitchen and centre stage in the sitting room a magnificent grand piano draped with a lace shawl and displaying photos of bygone operatic days.

We were in our element and so thankful for the warmth and kind hospitality as well as the music that we shared on several occasions that week with such a remarkable couple. Occasionally, their artistic temperaments would flare in light hearted argument when she would accuse him of being deaf and he would accuse her of being blind. Much laughter ensued.

Our’ Grey Winds’ has given us and our family enormous pleasure over the years and though the name of Franic Zajdowski can’t be found in any internet search, his work remains very significant to us.


As we approach the end of January, we are all looking forward to longer days, more energy-giving daylight, and hoping for a return to that much longed for social side of our lives. The wait is beginning to seem endless. A symbol of that awakening, so much more significant this year, is peeking through the cold soil in hedgerows and gardens. Let the beautiful, delicate perfection of the snowdrop inspire us with new enthusiasm for our art

Snowdrops by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1880).

I’ve brought some snowdrops; only just a few,

But quite enough to prove the world awake,

Cheerful and hopeful in the frosty dew

And for the pale sun’s sake.

from ”The Months” by Christina Rossetti


Who would have imagined when art sessions resumed last January that we would be spending all our creative time at home. Painting doesn’t instantly spring to mind when you think of sociable activities, but it is amazing how much support, encouragement and inspiration we derive from our group sessions. We have all missed that, and while some have found it easier to settle into projects, it has been difficult for many. We are all looking forward to being able to meet again as soon as it is safe and we are very much hoping to welcome some new members.

In the words and picture of one member:-


We have plenty of inspiration in our little corner of the world for painting seascapes; just imagine if we lived in Timbuktu or Phoenix, Arizona for instance. It’s a special kind of landscape and one that has always drawn artists to try to capture the light and mood. Aberdeen Art Gallery has some amazing seascapes and it is fascinating to compare them; I have recently spent a blissful hour splashing around in the water there. From Joan Eardley’s wild storm in ”High Tide – a Winter Afternoon” to” The White Calm, Ailsa Craig from Port an Righ” by William McTaggart, the sea is an ever changing, never ceasing challenge. Now is an ideal time to visit, if you are able, as it is quiet, and feels very safe.

The White Calm – William McTaggart

Now all I have to do is pick up my paintbrushes …………

No News Isn’t Always Good News

It’s a good while since we were able to meet for our art sessions and we had all been hoping that they might be resuming before the end of the year. Well, there has been no news from our venue, and of course, we all now know that there will be no easing of restrictions for the foreseeable future. We enjoyed several weeks of outdoor companionship in the summer down by the river, when we caught up on news, put the world to rights and sometimes even talked art! Now even that isn’t possible, we are having to dig deep to keep our creativity going. At the moment we are still able to visit galleries, and are hoping to post some reviews in the coming weeks. Between those and all the inspiration we have had over the summer from our ”neater than usual” gardens and the beautiful Aberdeenshire countryside, we are bound to be coming up with some lovely work!

Travels After Lockdown

On a recent visit to Bergen I visited 3 of the main art galleries that had just reopened for the summer – Kode 2, 3 and 4. The exhibition in Kode 2 was on Picasso called Utstilling: Pablo Picasso. Suite 347.  It contained 347 drawings and lithographs, nearly all nudes, painted in his later life aged 75+.  I felt it was rather a manic repetition on the same theme (!), but there were a few exceptions. I particularly liked these two for their very fine artwork

In the other galleries Kode 3 and 4 are permanent exhibitions of 18th, 19th and 20th century art, featuring some well known Norwegian artists, including Edvard Munch and Nicolai Astrup. It was good to discover the pioneering female artist Harriet Bakker (Chez Moi, 1887), Ludvig Karsten (portrait of a lady, 1915) and Hans Gude (Kystbile)

Portrait of a Lady
Chez Moi

Next to a building site there was some interesting street art.  This painting of the elephant and rhinoceros being led towards a precariously fragile bridge made me think of impending extinctions due to human behaviour, but in fact it was a deep, psychoanalytical piece that I won’t even attempt to describe!  It just shows how imagination can create a meaning that is not always the intention of the artist, but it seemed to me to be equally relevant.