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  • Gerard Quenum:  Valley of the Dolls


    Last year I was visiting the National Museum of Scotland on a day out in Edinburgh when I came up against one of Gerard Quenum’s sculptures for the first time.  I find that art produces several different types of positive effect in me if I like it.  Sometimes it’s a technical appreciation, sometimes it’s a sense of connection with what the artist is representing or trying to say.  And sometimes there is something deeper, something where the visual elements of a piece of work combine to create messages, messages which touch our own visual memories which are connected to experience. These are the pieces of work which you can never forget, which can even come to superimpose themselves over your own emotional memories as a kind of synthesis of all the things which that piece connects for you.



    gerard-quenum-s-l-ange L'Ange

    For me straight away the sculpture brought vividly memories of my childhood home Nairobi and the city’s copious rubbish dumps, bits of coloured plastic, broken toys, and mangy dogs, but also of the many traditional tribal dolls which as a backdrop were ever present images when I was growing up in one way or another.

    L’Ange is a towering wooden structure ( a reclaimed upended drum) with one of Quenum’s trademarks, a dolls head, blackened and damaged.  The piece if also unique in that the eyes of the doll are actually made out of a wasp’s nest, which happened by chance in Quenum’s studio whilst he was creating the piece.  (You can read about the conservation efforts in relation to this aspect in an interesting article here:

    I remember staring up at this piece and feeling the sensation of fire burning, charring the wood and the plastic, and knowing that this was a piece of art and an artist that I was not going to forget in a hurry.

    Quenum was born in 1971 in Porto Novo, Benin and is part of a movement of francophone African artists now starting to receive international recognition for their work.   Quenum’s work has risen from a form of street art springing out of Porto Novo and Cotonou where spontaneous exhibitions are organised in the city streets.  This “Boulev’art” (Art on the Boulevard) is beginning to gain international popularity and Quenum now has a considerable list of joint and solo exhibitions on the national scene under his belt.  As well as exhibiting in Benin and other African countries such as Senegal and Togo Quenum has also exhibited in London, France and Brazil.

    It isn’t hard to see why Quenum’s work has enjoyed some success.  Whether you love it or hate it there is no denying that these altered dolls are both striking and memorable.  I suppose on some level it saddens me that the first reaction people seem to have to the pieces is “that’s weird” or “freaky” or some such thing.  Whilst it is obvious that these pieces are meant to have some unsettling effect, it is a shame to see so many people dismiss the work as an attention grabbing gimmick when there is so much behind this work.


    la-vendangeuse(1) La Vendangeuse (The Reaper)



    Quenum’s work is produced almost exclusively using reclaimed and repurposed materials, most notably wood and bits of old dolls.  The dolls, almost always originally white baby dolls, then undergo a transformation process, usually using fire to blacken their skin and to frizz up their hair. These alien baby dolls, given to African children, are being transformed into something which resembles to a greater extent these children.  They are also being transformed into something which many times resembles traditional African dolls or masks, whilst always at the same time retaining something incongruous.  It is this incongruity which makes people uncomfortable but it is also what makes Quenum’s work so hauntingly beautiful.  There is a disturbing lost innocence about these reworked dolls, something which makes them both comforting and potentially terrifying.  I suppose another thing that they brought immediately to my mind were child soldiers, innocent faces, scarred and marked by the histories of war torn countries.  Can innocence exist where situations of extreme exploitation of the human being exist?  La Vendangeuse (The Reaper) above perfectly illustrates this for me.  The doll here is joined by another familiar childhood figure for Europeans, a stuffed Disney Tigger toy, but it is totally out of place.  The elongated hooded figure reminds me of the many nomadic herds people who are so common a view in many African countries, and the children who are so often occupied with looking after their livestock, carrying their blankets around with them to sleep with the animals.  However there is a darker side to this, The Reaper, is also death. The face of innocence in conjunction with the concept of the Grim Reaper calls to mind again for me child soldiers, agents of death hiding behind unexpected guises.


    Quenum’s work is well worth a look at and if you happen to be travelling through Edinburgh go and see the real thing.  At the least its something totally different, at the most it might be a new obsession.




    Fiona MacHugh

  • Artist of the Month

    Meet Artist Katy Jane Dobson

    Our artist of this month, Katy Jane Dobson, is a UK based artist who works predominantly in oil, often water-colour, producing amazing vivid and detailed paintings. Inspired by so many things Katy brushes up stunning subjects of nature, wildlife scenes and animals using her inspiration of the artist Odilon Redon, with his ethereal qualities and further by his use of vivid colour. She depicts each of her subject matters with spontaneous and kinetic overtones, which gives her subjects such vibrancy and excitement. Originally from Yorkshire where she grew up Katy fed herself with her love of art through drawing and painting in a self taught approach. Katy now lives in Lincoln where she had furthered her education for her love of art,  attending the University of Lincoln.

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    Katy's paintings have such beautiful harmony to them. Katy's use of vivid colours and strokes allow her work to create a gorgeous blend of drama to her work. Just look at some of the paintings below, which depict these factors.

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                                            katy jane dobson.jpg 6

       Watch a video to listen more about her work here

    Watch Katy here in action painting.

    Happy Painting


  • Artist & Illustrator Kim Anderson

    Kim Anderson Artist & Illustrator

    We are working at home today and I came into the office after dropping our kids off to school, unsure what to do. I logged onto facebook and went through the news feed and, found something very unique and breathtaking that i just had to share. I will admit this, I have fallen in love! with this artist & illustrator.


    Spontaneous Designs With A Wide rage of Art Materials

    Kim Anderson creates spontaneous designs using paint, pen, ink (Dr.Ph Martin Radiant Inks) and paper collage work to create her Family Trees and collages - where she uses various patterned and textured papers. Her artwork is designed and used for greeting cards, publishers and wrapping paper, and also for wall art in the UK, Europe and the USA.

    Kim is recognised for her excellent use of paint, pen, ink and paper collage work contributing to many of her beautiful ranges including, Crème & Noir, Papillon and Mimi.

    Kim Anderson 4

    Kims success commercially has naturally followed on from her inspirational artwork and led to several collaborations with high profile companies as well as running her successful online Etsy shop. The artist lives and works from home in Kent and has her own beautiful studio where she creates her beautiful designs.

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    Kim Anderson 2

    Kim Anderson is in high demand for her family trees and is always being commissioned for these (above is just one example of many).

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    Not only does the artist & illustrator create stunning trees but she paints hearts as well which prove to be a hit with newlyweds. How gorgeous a gift that would be to receive as a wedding gift, framed too!

    Kim Anderson 3

    Examples of Kim Andersons greeting cards as shown above. These cards are just beautiful and you would certainly know cards if you walked stumbled upon them, as Kim has her very own signature and it is noticable straight away.

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    Kim has had some of her designs created into cross stitch patterns as well as her greeting cards and collage work. Now that I have seen this I would love to purchase one of her cross stitch designs and create, could see this being made into a cushion with very pretty floral fabric on the other side.

    Kim Anderson 1

    Above just shows an example of Kims' collage work, I can just see this in a box frame hung on a wall.

    kim anderson 6

    I simply love this teacup with little butterflies fluttering out the teacup and lots of pretty tiny flowers adorning the teacup also. This is called "Flower Burst". Absolutely delightful and the colours are gorgeous. This would be perfect for on the walls of a bakery or cafe.

    Below is just showing you an example of Kim Anderson's collage work where she uses an array of pretty patterned papers creating her illustrations. I think these owls are just really twoo twoo cute!

    kim anderson 9

    Her inspiration is found from all around her in daily life but is also inspired by magazines and well known artists Elizabeth Blackadder, Picasso and the Bloomsbury Group. You can see more of her designs and creations on either her facebook pageor her website. Amazing artist & illustrator.

  • Art by Mel Graham

    Melanie Graham

    I discovered this talented artist a little while back and found myself falling in love with her intense and vibrant paintings. Mel uses oils and acrylics to produce her paintings of free-forming dramatic seascapes and landscapes, through to emotional skies and vibrant abstracts, focusing on the raw and sheer beauty of space and nature. She produces her paintings in her attic where she paints her emotions and nothing else, she creates the emotions she feels there and then and what gives her joy is when people can connect with her paintings.

    I simply LOVE her work and love her use of rich colour as well as her individual style and use of paint.

    You can find Melanie's work on her Facebook page

    Below are just a couple of her wonderful vibrant paintings.

    mel graham

    mel graham 2

    mel graham 3

  • Artist's I Love

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

    It is lovely to be able to come into work (in our home office) and actually find a little time to browse online at other new artist's and see what they are exhibiting currently. Nothing brings us more pleasure than to see other artist's paintings and being able to share with other artist's. It is great that we can find inspiration from others and to be able to get out and visit their exhibitions if we can.

    As I enjoy my mug of hot coffee I have found this website with a variety of artist's where you can read a bit about what they do and where they grew up, along with examples of their work.

    Modern British Art is a gallery based in Bournemouth, Dorset, where they specialise in contemporary British Art. One of the talented artists' I stumbled upon is Alison Dickson. Alison grew up in Enniskillen, Nothern Ireland, and lives in Edinburgh with her husband and daughter. She paints beautiful textured paintings using layers of paint and then scratches into them using skewers, knives and anything to hand to create her textured dynamic paintings of harbours, boats and her stuill life paintings also. You can visit her website on the link to read more about her and see her work.

    One of her paintings which I have just completely "fallen in love with" is below. This painting is called "Seabreeze" which is an acrylic on canvas painting. I really LOVE her good use of colour, lovely and fresh and breezy and, has a lovely calming feel to it. I feel almost inclined to walk down onto the beach as I look at this and, feel rather compelled to sit and read a good Rosamunde Pilcher book on this scene - I think The Shell Seekers would be a good choice as fits the bill with this tranquil painting. I would be very happy reading a Rosamunde Pilcher novel on this beach. Haha....x There is something very therapeutic in this painting and I think it is the freshness of the hues of colours used.

    Alison Dickson

    Seaside Paintings

    Alison also paints really unusual and delightful boats and harbours which I also adore. The one shown below is called "harbour by Moonlight" acrylics on canvas. I like the quirkiness of this and the beautiful; blues and greens she has used in the painting. The use of white and cream lighten the whole painting up and adds that beautiful freshness to the painting like all her other paintings.

    Alison Dickson-2

    Alison Dickson is currently exhibiting her paintings at Culross Pottery & Gallery, Culross, Fife and also at Porto & Fi on the Mound,
    Edinburgh. Why not take a drive out and visit and look at Alisons' beautiful therapeutic talented paintings amongst many other artist's work. You can enjoy their delicious  locally roasted coffee, home made cakes and snacks in the Biscuit Cafe on your visit there. Everyone enjoys being able to enjoy a nice mug of something with a slice of cake after a nosey about of the current art world.

  • My Own Work

    Pastel Landscape

    I started producing an acrylic painting some time ago and never really got to finish it. Recently, I have been finding myself in the thinking zone of "wanting to go and paint" and never seem to have the time and, due to my poor health at present art therapy seems to be calling me and what is more relaxing than painting?......

    As painting is a "healer"  this fantastic form of therapy is gradually allowing me to find little opportunities to paint, even if it is only for an hour or less. Below is the painting I am working on just now and is still a work in  progress.

    I simply Love my pastel colours and like the odd strike of rich colours, especially the shimmering pearlescent Rembrandt acrylic paints . Depending on where the light hits the canvas you will see the vivid pearlescent colour at that point.  I do enjoy using richer colours but, pastel colours have always been a favourite with me; they are soothing and calming and relax me, maybe that is why I enjoy painting with these colours as its my way of calming down. This painting has been composed from my imagination and I managed to create the blue sky and a pinky coral foreground, but very plain, and I was stuck from then on -hence why I have not returned to the canvas. Thankfully, last Friday being as work was slightly quieter than normal I started to work on the foreground and initially thought flowers is what the canvas needs. So I began painting basic flower forms and spent time working on each flower. I was not very sure if they were going to work out right at the time but, I was quite happy until yesterday I went back to my I then found myself working over the flowers and bringing texture into the foreground.

    Painting Flowers with a Palette Knife

    I began to form lily flowers using a palette knife. I eventually built up their form and got the stamens in and the specks of colours on the petals. Once I composed these lilys' I found myself looking at my painting for 10 minutes to see what needed doing next. I found it really quite relaxing viewing my painting and just getting a feel for the scene itself and, seeing if any other shapes were jumping out at me, as if the painting was talking to me and telling me what to form next. I could not see anything at first so I began painting basic shapes of sheep on either side of the painting. Once they were done I then saw a path forming so I made this very realistic to the viewer. This took time to do as found it tricky to create around the lily's themselves - should have been the path that was painted first but, it is not how it worked out. I am usually found to make things difficult on myself though. I looked at me painting again and felt it was just missing a little something and , so I painted birds in the sky in the most basic shape. and created depth in the painting through the birds gliding in the sky. Once I was done I realised my painting was complete and that I was very happy with the  finished painting. (see below)





    I have certainly enjoyed producing this and, all from my imagination as well. Now I ask myself "do I want to part from it?" because i do and I do not want to but, many of my friends have said they really like it .

  • Painting in Progress

    "Painting In Progress"

    I started this new painting a couple of weeks ago while at home. I brought the canvas over to work so that I could work on it on my creative day. I have created this from imagination and have been really enjoying painting this. Again I have been using the Amsterdam acrylic paints but this time have managed to avoid using the beautiful Rembrandt Pearlescent acrylic paints (an obsession I have with these paints). I have to admit though my painting has not gone to how I planned it to look but, I am happy with it and have enjoyed creating the foreground of the foxgloves - an impression of them anyway. A palette knife was used for the foxgloves and i splattered on the white highlights from it too., but in a delicate way. I am not sure though wheteher to add in some more of these or not but I think what with my poppies it might be ok. If I go on I may overpaint them, which can be easily done.

    I then somehow found myself beginning to paint a small portion of the sea in the horizon, making it look as if thne tide is coming in; this I am delighted with as I enjoyed painting this with a Rembrandt oil/acrylic brush and just being able to feel the smoothness of the paint and seeing the blue and while blend nicely was very therapeutic. It took time to paint but, feel I have captured the sea well here.  I think it is great that you do not have to restrict yourself to using the one material to paint on with and being able to use different tools to capture different textures. The one part I am not totally happy with is my boat. This I am going to fix as it sticks out like a sore thumb and just does not work with the rest of the painting. I am thinking of possibly going over the horizontal blue line with a more prominent and dark blue and, move the base of the boat up. I welcome your ideas and advice on this if you have any? And do you think I should add more foxgloves in or not?

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    Above from Left; Studio, Close up of foxgloves, Close up of the foreground, painting on easel

    Below; my Amsterdam acrylic paints and my set up in studio


  • Landscape

    Landscape in Acrylic

    Recently I have started this new painting. This is a work in progress where  I am trying to be more expressive - but proving difficult as I am a painter of detail but, hopefully as time goes on working on it I will find my hand loosening up that bit more.

    new painting landscape

    I love painting landscapes, seascapes and flowers and, thought it would be lovely to experiment a little by being slightly different with my approach however, it is not as easy as I thought it would be to be different in my style of painting. But sometimes it is fun experimenting and trying something new.  I started by painting the sand of a beach but, I am not completely happy with it then, moved on to painting the sky using the Amsterdam acrylic colours; turquoise blue  no.522 and sky blue light no.551 with titanium white no.105 and a little Naples yellow deep no.223 - some of which is mixed in with a little gel medium glossy to add a little bit of texture. I dripped the acrylic paint on from the top of the canvas then went over it with a palette knife creating textures and lovely smooth and sharp shapes. On the beach itself I seem to have created an interesting horizontal line so will try and work with that within the painting itself - just not entirely sure what to do with it. I would like to create expressive flowers in the foreground to add depth to my painting and texture too.

    new painting landscape 2

    Feeling very inspired by the artist Amanda Hoskin. An example of her work is shown below, just indicates how much of an expressive feeling she has created in her foreground of flowers. which is what I would like to achieve but, not entirely sure that I will. Keep watching for the finished painting to be uploaded.


  • Ladybanks Artist on the Platform

    Fife Artist - Kirsty Lorenz

    Recently, we had a family afternoon trip out visiting artists open studios work We were unable to pop in to all 86 venues but, on returning home and going through the open Studios North Fife brochure I found myself researching on some of the artists to find that one of the artists venues, we were very near to while walking around the beautiful village of Ladybank. Kirsty Lorenz is an artist who is extremel well known for her stunning flower paintings and she has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad. Kirsty Lorenz is based in Ladybank where she renovated the old Victorian Railway Station and made it her studio and runs art classes and workshops from there too. Fresh and delightful that the studio is - to look at that is - seems to be just the perfect setting to have peace to paint away happily.


    kirsty lorenz website

    Kirsty paints the most amazing oil paintings of foxgloves, dahlias to daisy chains and has an ongoing project (Daisy Chains). Her project is ongoing and each and every painting is magnificent in the of her use of colour and depth and, also how she captures each flower in such magnificent detail. All of Kirstys' masterpieces are made into greeting cards and tea towels also, so there is the odd gift too which have her designs on them.

    After reading all about the artist and browsing through all her beautiful paintings on her website I became somewhat annoyed that we missed that chance to view her work in her studio but, at least I know the artists' studio is only a 10 minute drive away for any further exhibitions that she may hold in the near future.

    kirsty lorenz 6 studio

    The Daisy Chain

    Kirstys' long lasting project of the Daisy Chain began from when she had her baby daughter and had seen her making a daisy chain out in their back garden, just like the artist did herself in her childhood, and Kirsty thought to herself how lovely the daisy would a beautiful painting and from there she has produced the most stunning and unique daisy chain paintings - something I have never seen before - and you can see how much hard work has gone in to each and every painting as Kirsty has captured the true essence of the daisy through her use of colour, depth and detail.  You can See just beautiful her paintings are as seen below. Very unique and most inspirational. I keep looking at these wonderful paintings and just keep wanting to go and pick up my brushes and watercolours and get painting myself and having a play around with colour and flowers myself. Love how she has her own space and, what with us planning on taking business back to where we started in Pittenweem and, no longer work from home makes me even more excited for that move to happen as I know we can do something similar but not on such a huge scale as Kirsty. Longing to get painting and allow the feelings deep within me be poured out onto blank canvasses and talk to art lovers.

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    kirsty lorenz

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    I hope this artists' work inspires you & draws you to pick up your brushes and paints.

    Happy Painting


    God Bless

  • Bank Holiday

    An Art Afternoon Out

    I hope that everyone had a wonderful blessed Bank Holiday weekend just passed and, got out to enjoy the sunny weather whoever had it. We were out all weekend and had a busy bank holiday weekend. We have not had it warm like it has been down South of 24 degrees but, yesterday it was a treat as it was 18 degrees and lovely to be able to soak up the sun whilst enjoying time the kids.

    On Monday we took ourselves out for the afternoon to the North Fife Open Studios and ventured into the world of art and crafts, which is what my husband and I have a huge passion for - just hardly get the opportunity to get out and view other artists creations.  The joy of the Open Studios is that the artists, designers and craftsmen open up their homes, or other peoples homes, and exhibit their own work for all to view and purchase. there are 90 people now exhibiting during the Open Studios and it runs over the first weekend in May from the Friday til Monday. To read about the Open Studios North Fife you can get all the information you need on the following link

    My husband and I felt very much at "home" walking around the artists homes looking at all their wonderful paintings, woodwork, metalwork, textile work and paintings. I think our kids were surprised at how much they enjoyed themselves too but, when free food is involved they are hardly not going to complain.  The feeling of walking in to an artists home and viewing their work was just homely, comforting, a world of happiness being in our bubble of art and the fact that as husband and wife we got to truly enjoy something we both love and have the same passion for "ART". Drinking cups of tea and eating mini muffins while chatting with the artists was a great delight. getting to know the artist is just as much a joy than it is viewing their work and, just being able to talk "Art" was beautiful with other like minded people.

    We met the lovely John Bonington who specifies in sculpture but, also paints in watercolours and is a photographer too. Lovely friendly man he is and his paintings are amazing. Such great attention to detail in his brushwork and his scenes are just beautiful too. We came away with two free printed cards of his due to giving him some Cobra Oil Samples. You can read about John Bonington and view his beautiful paintings and sculptures on the following link;

    Hand Crafted

    We then met the really lovely Aileen Clarke who does needle-felting creating an array of textile pieces and frames, adds on top of sketchbooks, made into jewellery and gift boxes and has her textile work printed onto mugs and notebooks and greeting cards. I got to really enjoy a chat with her as she was very much on my wavelength with crafts. Her stunning textile creations can be viewed on the following Some of her work is shown below. I simply love how she has incorporated her needle-felting into her jewellery.

    aileen clarke

    Then lastly we visited a traditional blacksmith Jim Shears whom designs beautiful metalwork which is all designed and handcrafted by himself. he creates products for your home and garden from gates, railings, fire guards, planters, candelabra, bedsteads and more. We had a metal sign made for hanging outside our shop in Pittenweem where we had our shop name hanging from it. Beautiful unique work.

    As we were at this venue we stumbled upon another designer. This time a furniture maker who creates his furniture out of wood and metal where he creates stunning clocks, mirrors, turned ware, furniture and sculptural forms with glass-work within some of his designs. Leo Norris designs and handcrafts his own work from scratch and any little bits of wood he has left he makes sure he uses it and creates somehow to give as a gift. We bought some gorgeous garden wood labels to write on what vegetables we have growing in our vegetable patch.  You can find Leo Norris work on the following link and read all about him as well as viewing his amazing work.

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