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Whitchurch's Modern Artists Gallery breaks out of lockdown with Scottish show

Surprise for those who know Stuart Buchanan's work

Trish Lee

trish lee


01635 886663

Whitchurch's Modern Artists Gallery breaks out of lockdown with Scottish show

Stuart Buchanan Watchie Garden – oil on potato sack – 52x56cm

I HAVE missed visiting my favourite local gallery in Whitchurch-on-Thames and chatting to its inspiring director Peggy Brodie during the last few months enforced isolation, says arts editor Trish Lee.

Online galleries can give a good taster, but nothing can beat being up close and personal with the real thing – to catch the light, smell the paint...

Now it’s all change in these parts and the great news is that Modern Artists Gallery has ‘come out’ of lockdown and visitors can now view the contemporary Scottish painter Stuart Buchanan biennial exhibition which should have opened in May. The show will run until September 5. The gallery is open by appointment only “until we gain more confidence with the c word,” says director Peggy Brodie.

Those familiar with Buchanan’s idiosyncratic work will immediately see that he has completely changed direction with these 16 landscapes in oil, all of Catterline, an old fishing village perched high above a horseshoe bay and overlooking the North Sea in Aberdeenshire. With its rugged rather than picturesque beauty, the attraction for artists is obvious. Stuart’s studio is in the ‘Watchie’.

He says: “Renowned artists have been coming here since the 1950s. In that time the Watchie, a 200-year-old customs and excise watch house, has been used as a studio, hosting almost 70 years of continuous creative practice. It is off-road and off-grid, contemplative and quiet, unless it’s stormy, as it sits out on a headland just north of the village.

Stuart Buchanan Catterline January – oil on board –
61 x81 cm

“Prior to settling here, I’d been coming to Catterline to visit and stay with relatives since I was a teenager and perhaps I had always wanted to come and live here. Many years later and I have been painting in the Watchie now for 12 years, after relocating from Glasgow to undertake a two-year artist residency in Aberdeen in 2006.

“There was a shift in my painting practice about a year-and-a-half ago when the need for a more direct, expressive and painterly approach to my work was resolved by dragging the easel and the palette out of the studio and painting literally what was on my doorstep. This need had been growing in me for a long time, but I resisted for numerous reasons, not least because I had a successful and identifiable body of work that was widely exhibited, and other notable artists had made paintings of Catterline their subject.

Stuart Buchanan 'Catterline Mid-May' - oil on Board - 62 x 92 cm

“But I am in Catterline and Catterline is where and what I want to paint.

“The results have been a much more rewarding process for me.
“I feel a renewed energy and urgency and the paintings have become more about the moment, the seasons and most of all, about the paint.”

Modern Artists Gallery, High St, Whitchurch-on-Thames

(0118) 984 5893

07774 464646

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