As a resident of Newport, successful local artist and gallery owner Helen Glassford rarely has to look far for some of the best sunsets in Scotland.
But she has also taken advantage of trips to other more secluded parts of the country to inspire her new exhibition which runs at the Tatha Gallery in Newport from Saturday June 22 until August 24.
Immerse, a solo exhibition of over 45 oil paintings, has taken over a year to put together and will showcase new work from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design graduate Helen.
In preparation for the show, she made several research trips in January this year to the north of Scotland exploring the Assynt peninsula to walk, explore and immerse herself in painting the landscape.
“Being in the landscape is essential for me” explained Helen.
“I don’t wish to just observe but to experience the weather that nature decides to throw at us. Hail, snow, freezing winds and brilliant sunshine. I love it all.
“My work is about the landscapes and weather-scapes so I spend many hours soaking in the weather, the light and terrain, whether I am walking in the misty hills or on the local windblown beaches.
“Perhaps rather romantically I see Scotland as the place where ideas and imagination and nature collide.”
Preparations for the exhibition took Helen to Alchiltibuie via multiple stopping points and vistas.
With it being January, there were very few people around and she found the quiet and the solitude needed for the natural world to sink in.
“Achnahaird was wild and well worth the drenching I got whilst walking to the beach,” she laughed.
“Trips further north revealed deserted roads and windswept beaches.
“The colours were magnificent – snow white shades; slate greys, peat bog browns and blacks with occasional glimpses of the hopeful translucent sea blues and greens.
“The light changed every few minutes. Just perfect for my work.”
Helen said Immerse reflected these varying experiences with some of the paintings calm and light with a hint of euphoric melancholy.
Others are energy-filled suggesting the argumentative power of the elements.
Paint is dripped, poured and removed time and time again until the right balance of colour, texture and composition is reached, she said.
Helen grew up in the Lake District before moving to Scotland to study fine art painting at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee.
“My mum’s incredible knowledge for anything to do with art and art history soaked through and before I knew I was at art college in Carlisle where I studied my foundation course,” she said.
“I then moved up to Dundee to start my painting degree. I knew very early on that I wanted to paint.
“There’s something about the endless possibilities of what paint can do, incredibly frustrating at times but very rewarding.”
Her move in 1995 to the east coast of Scotland to study at Duncan of Jordanstone was an easy choice as the lure of the light and the easy escape routes to the hills and beaches was too strong to ignore.
Now living and working in Newport-on-Tay, she is inspired daily by the changing light on the River Tay and often features in her work.
“In Newport, at Tatha Gallery, our original vision was to create a “St Ives of the North”, where creativity is combined with location and cultural history,” she added.
“It is the perfect place to enjoy the outstanding views of the River Tay, the unique quality of light and all that the surrounding area has to offer.
“Being on the south bank means we are blessed with some of the best sunsets in Scotland”.
*Immerse – Helen Glassford, Tatha Gallery, Newport on Tay, June 22 to August 24