Friday, April 27, 2012

The last post from Scotland...

 The forth rail bridge © 2012 Megan Chapman

Well, here we are. This will be my last post from Edinburgh, Scotland. My last post sitting at the ikea table on the borrowed laptop in Stewart's flat. I arrived here in early January and I will be leaving to return to Arkansas next Thursday, May 3rd. I probably won't know exactly what this trip meant to me or what I learned or how it changed me until I am back home and looking over my photographs and wondering why there isn't a train or a bus to take me to someplace I have never seen. Today I will try to remember the highlights and just make note of some observations and commemorate this journey.

When I wrote my final post from Arkansas before I arrived in Edinburgh, I wrote that I had no expectations, and after being here, I can say that was pretty much true. I came here for the experience. I came here for art, for love, for adventure, for a challenge and to meet people I had only dreamed of meeting in the past. I am happy to say I did all of that. I said I wanted to walk places I had never seen before and make art and I did that too. I said I wanted to watch Stewart create his latest series of works for his exhibition and that happened as well. I got to sit here at the table and watch him come alive as a painter and produce his best works ever. I turned forty here, I met so many new people here. I even got to see one of my best friends from America/England/Holland here. I had a solo exhibition of all new work here. I met the founders of here as well.

I went on thirteen regular trains and four tube trains and countless double decker buses and I walked for hundreds of miles while I was here. I traveled to Glasgow, Samuelston, Dunbar, North Berwick, Gullane and Dalmeny, Scotland. I also traveled to Birmingham, London, and Manchester, England.

I dreamt up new ideas, I was inspired and bothered by the art I saw, I was comforted by the artists, photographers and friends I met. I was rained on and the sun shone on me too and there were some rainbows as well. I was welcomed with open arms by many people. I was fed and watered and taken in by many people as I traveled. I was made to feel comfortable and special and at the same time like one of the regulars too. I found a favorite pub and I will never forget what chips with salt and sauce taste like while looking at the sea.

To everyone I have met on this journey, thank you. You are beautiful, brilliant people and you are my friends and I know we will meet again. To everyone back home and in the states that has followed my facebook status updates, my photographs, my little quips and posts about this place, thank you for following along and for being excited for me, for helping support me by buying my work and donating to my travel fund. I loved sharing my experience with you. I loved taking photographs knowing I could share them with you at the end of the day, it kept me from feeling homesick to know you were all traveling along with me.

There are a lot of exciting things coming up when I return to Arkansas. Exhibitions to be a had, new work to create and show with Stewart. You name it and it's happening. It is an exciting time and I am glad to be living this life as an artist. Thank you for believing in me. There is so much more I could say about Scotland and my experience here, but I think I want to just hold it inside my heart for awhile and let it rattle around and become a part of me before I give it all away. But, I know Scotland will not leave me for long and I know it will filter through me and find its way into my work and then that work will hopefully find its way into your life.

See you next week Arkansas. See you again soon Scotland.

All my love,

Sunday, April 22, 2012

London calling and so much more...

 This is London © 2012 Megan Chapman

Hello Dear Readers,

I am just back from my adventures in England. I am tired and exhausted but happily so. It was a wonderful trip filled with art, wonderful architecture, and super lovely people. Let's begin...

But wait! Before I left for England there were some exciting and beautiful things happening here in Scotland that I don't want to forget. Firstly, Stewart and Kevin gave a very successful art talk at Union Gallery the Saturday before we left. There was a nice turn out and the talk went really well. Stewart comes alive when talking about his work and it is always fun to witness.The talk was done in a conversational style and Stewart seemed to thrive on the experience of leading the talk with probing questions that each artist answered and then bantered back and forth. It was a great idea and I am so glad I was there to witness it. I also talked to some great art patrons that were there, they happened to be fans of my work as well and had lots to talk to me about! Always a pleasant surprise. After the talk, there was tasty Chinese food with Stewart's Mom.

The next day we took the train to Dunbar, Scotland. There were blazing rapeseed fields, cute cottages, sea waves and wind farms off in the distance. It was a lovely day trip enjoying sweet people, good food, a pretty garden and doggies! It was good to get out of the city and walk along the seaside enjoying Stewart's friends Richard and Amanda and their lovely home.

Monday was all about packing and getting ready for our holiday in England. On Tuesday we walked to the train station and our journey began! First we headed to Birmingham...

I was excited and looking forward to the trip. I didn't know what lay ahead of me. With the spirit of adventure, I was ready to sit back and watch the world go past. My first trip to England!

It was a lovely train journey, with rolling green hills, mammoth wind farms, a glimpse of the Irish Sea, strange yellow light and fields of sheep. As we passed villages, through train stations, old buildings and factories scattered across the landscape of Scotland and England outside the train window.

We arrived in Birmingham to a house of kids and energy, coloring at the dinner table, a warm meal and lemon drizzle cake. It was a great start to our English holiday. Early the next morning, we would be heading out to London...

We caught the train from Birmingham and then we caught the tube. I met my friend and fellow artist Deborah Burrow for tea and chat which was a thrill. Then we walked over and inside St. Paul's Cathedral. We said good bye to the lovely Debs and then walked in the rain to the Tate Modern. I enjoyed walking over the Millennium bridge over the Thames and looking around at the city. Once inside the Tate Modern we took in the art. We were saddened to find out that a section containing much of the art from the permanent collection was closed. We also didn't want to pay to see any of the three pay exhibitions. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the surrealist selections, the view from the balcony and just being in this famous gallery. We did the Tate Modern in about forty-five minutes, almost shameful for two artists to breeze through it in such a manner, but to quote my friend Mr. Smith's son Joe, "it's big but there's nothing here worth seeing."

We popped into a smaller gallery and then continued our rainy but lovely walk along the Thames. We saw Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery (there were so many amazing and important works of art viewed with awe, such as this and this.) There was a quick stop at the Portrait Gallery, we then walked through Soho, and took a tube ride to find some Ethiopian food for our dinner (my most favorite cuisine).

It was surreal to be in such a well documented city. To walk past Big Ben and to hear it chime...people asked me if I could live in London afterwards... I am not sure it is my kind of place, it felt a bit like this... but for a visit it was fabulous!

Thursday we spent the day with Dr. Craig as our tour guide around the city of Birmingham. We walked into town sometimes in the rain and sometimes not. There was a visit to Ikon Gallery- where we went up and down in the singing glass elevator! I loved it, I could have gone up and down all day. All elevators should sing! Notice how I am not talking too much about the art there...SINGING ELEVATOR!!!! (enough said) Then there was some more walking and we had Bento for lunch. Yum. Then we visited the Birmingham Gallery and Museum where I saw a lovely Modigliani and many famous Pre-Raphaelites. It was a calm day walking around town, looking at art and buildings. I think I also need to mention the Jaffa Cake donut from Greggs. Later, Stewart cooked dinner for us all and I did some bead work with Dr. Craig's son Rory and we all had a nice chat.

On Friday morning we left Birmingham and took the train to Manchester. Steven Heaton was there to meet us at the train station. It was surreal and lovely to see and meet my dear friend for the very first time. I have known Steven and his work in since December of 2007. He had been my virtual studio mate before I had a studio outside my home. He was constantly involved in my painting process as I was in his. Steven has supported and influenced me in many ways over the years and vise versa and I am grateful. It was he who introduced me to Blip foto and we all know what has come from that introduction...

We walked through the rain to a lovely cafe/shop called Oklahoma! We had lunch and chatted, it was such a very good place for Steven to take us. Homespun and sweet, a comfortable place to unwind after our train journey. Steven's friend, also an artist, Nick joined us and was a burst of fresh and fun energy and even gave me a mixed CD! Nick told us stories that we all want to read. From there we went to the Manchester Museum and Gallery and saw a very lovely Modigliani and many other fine works of art, some mind blowing works of beauty. After the art we went back to Steven's place and chatted around the kitchen table. John Spurgeon came a long with a gift for me of Rat Girl and then later we went to the Black Swan pub down the road where Steven's brother, Rob also met us. There was conversation about art, music, and idle chatter with many Zenith IPA's being consumed. I stayed up until 2am (this has not happened in a long time). It was so great to meet everyone and have some fun.

On Saturday, Steven took us to the OK studios in Standish. It was a lovely place with open studios and we got to meet many of the artists there. Steven is about to become the director of the place.... a perfect fit. We also saw Steven's work and it was beyond all my expectations having only seen his masterpiece online. I even collected a painting that had been promised to me years ago! It was a great visit with art, conversation, encouragement and inspiration. Just what Stewart and I needed. In the future I will dedicate a full blog post to the OK studios and the artists there. Then it was back to the train station where I hugged my friend goodbye and we headed back to Edinburgh...

I enjoyed the train ride back to Edinburgh, thinking of all the art we had seen, all the famous buildings, the lovely people we met, visited, and stayed with and just how wonderful life can be when you take the chance, make a plan, have an adventure and just push forward. Special thanks and love to Craig Munro, Claire, Rory, Euan, Deborah Eileen Burrow, Steven Heaton, Wendy, Nick, John Spurgeon, and Rob Kedward for the places to stay, food to eat, drinks to drink, excellent tour guiding, laughs and even some gifts! Thanks also to the inspiring artists at OK Studios in Standish.

I am grateful to be living this life, to be an artist, to have the friends I have and to be who I am. Special thanks and love to Stewart for taking me on such a grand adventure and being such an excellent travel companion. Having a picnic on a train on a Saturday evening as the countryside rolls by seems just about perfect.

I have twelve more days in Scotland and I wonder, what is going to happen next?

Friday, April 13, 2012

A place called home...

 the waters of leith as we walk to the gallery

Hello Dear Readers...

Let's see what happened this week. This week was about making a plan and a list of all the things I still need to do and see here in Edinburgh before I leave on May 3rd. It was also about travel plans and seeing people that I wanted to see and spend time with before I leave. Busy time as I make the slow preparations to leave and return to the states. This list was overwhelming and we had mixed results with checking things off at first as we were both feeling a bit over whelmed but by the middle of the week we hit our stride and saw and did a lot and enjoyed many people. I am pleased to say I feel I have some real friends here, friends and faces that I will miss seeing, so much potential waiting to be explored, conversations to be expanded on. This gives me hope for the future.

But, for now let's just get to the logistics of the past week. Last Saturday we took my exhibition, From Across the Ocean down. It is always amazing how quickly shows come down and how painstakingly they go up. A few minutes and it was done. I added the remaining framed works to my Etsy shop. So please visit my shop as I have a wide selection of small works that I have created here to mark my travels and experience.

After the show take down we took a bus to visit and have dinner with Stewart's Mom and Sister. It was a nice relaxed evening.

We enjoyed a relaxed Easter at home with creme eggs and hot cross buns and I submitted my art to a local gallery here in Edinburgh. I have submitted my work to a couple of galleries here, time will tell if they are interested but it is always a good practice to keep submitting work to places. It always feels productive and keeps me on my toes.

The next few days were spent dreaming of the next body of work I will create with Stewart. We have a combined painting exhibition of all new works coming up in July at the Art Center of the Ozarks so it is important to be thinking of this. I enjoyed thinking about working with Stewart, after spending so much more time with him, having lived in his world, and after he has painted so much more of his own work. It should be thrilling. We will have a lot of work to do when we return. I also spoke to artist Jennifer Libby Fay about the next individual body of work I would like to create. It is always good to talk about these things and bounce these ideas off each other and seek support from other artists.

We had dinner at a lovely vegetarian restaurant called David Bann. It is an elegant place and the food was outstanding and very artful. It was nice to be out at night and have a good meal and this was one of the things on our list so at the same time we were enjoying ourselves it felt like we were taking care of business too.

On Wednesday we walked ten miles seeing the sights. Walking by the waters of Leith/Stockbridge/Dean Village to The Scottish National gallery/Modern One for lunch in the garden and we also walked on the landform. Then we went to the Edvard Munch exhibition, Edvard Munch, Graphic Works from The Gundersen Collection in Modern two, which was outstanding. I had seen an exhibition of his paintings in the High Museum of Art in Atlanta years ago that was impressive but these lithographs and wood block prints were amazing. The imagery was familiar from his paintings but this stripped down expansion of and exploration in his work through this medium was a new twist.

In partnership with the Munch exhibition the gallery also  had a display of graphic art from 1900-1925 in one of the lower galleries featuring the work of Klimt, Kandinsky, Beckman and others. It was also an impressive show. Then we walked on to St. Mary's Cathedral and then on to The Museum for the mummies (and with a buy one get one free ticket- it was a good time) then there was a trip to Spoon and to Talbot Rice Gallery to the James Cumming exhibition and then to the train station to buy our England tickets and then to legendary Henderson's for dinner. Got drenched on the way home.. but there was sunshine too..

What's that... England? Yes! You read that right. Next Tuesday we are going to Birmingham to see our friend Craig Munro (the other part of iteration/span) and his family and spend the night and then on Wednesday we are spending the day in London to see as much art as we can stuff into our brains with a brief visit with fellow artist and friend Deborah Burrow, then it is back to Birmingham for Wednesday night and Thursday. On Friday it's off to Manchester to see art and meet up with more artists and dear friends Steven Heaton and John Spurgeon and then back to Edinburgh on Saturday evening. So, next week is going to be crazy and exciting. We are lucky we have friends that are putting us up and feeding us and that most of the museums and galleries will be free. All of this by train! Because of this journey, next week's blog might be a bit late, but I hope you will tune in as I share my travels with you.

However, back to this week... There was also an afternoon train ride to the country. The yellow rapeseed fields blazing in bloom as the train passed by. A wonderful cottage and a sweet simple dinner and a warm fire afterwards and the best tea and cake. Thanks to artist Louise Blamire for a lovely and relaxed evening. It was just perfect and that brings us to today and that was a lovely visit with artist and writer Ever Dundas and her partner Cinnamon. I love being able to visit with so many sweet folks before I leave. It feels good to connect with this network of artists and creative people that I have felt as if I have known for a long while via the Internet. It is great to connect as people and be invited into their homes and see the unique way they live. It reminds me of how I live and I know we are all cut somehow from the same cloth. Tonight I am going to my favorite pub, The Barony bar to hopefully meet up with some other blippers and folks that I want to see before I leave... 

So that is what these next few weeks are going to be about. Seeing people, seeing art, and squeezing as much life and inspiration I can out of this remaining time here. 

I believe if you can dream it, you can do it. It takes a while for all the cards to fall just right sometimes. Sometimes I still teeter on unsteady feet and am unsure but in the end I have to take the leap and live this messy life as best as I can. There are so many people that are behind me and with me, and living life their way and getting messy too and it is such a beautiful thing. We are in this together...

Friday, April 6, 2012

Snow, sleet, hail and the brilliance of art.

  A beautiful day in Stockbridge. © 2012 Megan Chapman

Hello Dear Readers...

Oh what a week it has been! There was art, there was snow, sleet, hail and cold weather and most importantly there was Stewart Bremner's opening of Worlds Apart with Kevin Low at Union Gallery. Let's get started!

This past week started with a visit to a dreamy flea market at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall. As you recall I had visited the Drill Hall not that long ago for their art market event. This space is conveniently located right behind Stewart's flat. It was a joy to enter the large light filled space again. The flea market was top notch with much to look at and many lovely old things that I would buy for my home if I lived here. I appreciated that the flea market even if it did make me sad to not buy anything and more for the fact that I don't have anywhere to buy things for. This set off a flurry of ideas and discussions in my head and aloud about where I now belong since being here. Could Edinburgh be my home? Or perhaps somewhere else in the world? It certainly doesn't feel like Fayetteville is my home anymore. Big thoughts and heavy decisions for a later date, but these thoughts are swirling around my head as the days get closer to my return flight home to Arkansas.

But back to this week and what I did and saw, last Saturday was the flea market and Sunday was a visit to an outdoor market in Stockbridge. This is one of my favorite areas of Edinburgh. I like this little community next to the Waters of Leith. The market was very lovely with arts, crafts, and lots of gourmet food. We had curry from a stall for our lunch, sitting on the sidewalk in the sun by the water. It was great food and affordable, the sun was shining brightly and everyone seemed in good spirits. We also walked down the path to St. Bernard's Well and as luck would have it, the well was open! Going to see inside this well was a rare treat, such beautiful and intricate tile work on the floor and ceiling. I took many photographs on this relaxed Spring day.

Once home and inspired by the sunshine and the surroundings I decided it was time to update my artist page on facebook and start putting it to better use. If you have not already liked my facebook art page, please do! I would love to connect with you there.

We also got out to see some art even in the freak snowy sleet weather event which I absolutely loved walking in. We visited the Open Eye gallery again for their latest offerings. We were both taken with the work of Willie Rodger who had an impressive collection of woodcuts and linocuts on display in one of the front rooms. He is prolific, his art covering the walls and in racks against the wall as well. I really liked his style. It was an impressive exhibition.

We also popped into the Scottish Society of Architect Artists' Spring Exhibition that was being held in the lower level Dundas Street gallery. It was a lovely space, a rental gallery managed by the Bourne Fine Art, the gallery upstairs from the space, that I have yet to enter. The show was a mixed bag, there were a few paintings that caught my eye.

After this viewing, we went back to the Edinburgh Printmakers gallery. Their current exhibition, New Print Generation, includes the works of Patrizo Belcampo, Sarah Diver, Lyndsay Gauld, Elizabeth Hardman, Rachel Maclean and Francesca Miller. According to their brochure, "this exhibition showcased the emerging talent of recent graduates selected from across the four Scottish Art College Degree Shows." For me the stars of the exhibition were Sarah Diver and Lyndsay Gauld. I liked their work and could imagine owning some of it. The work of Rachel Maclean was beyond my scope of enjoyment and I will just leave it at that.

Besides all the markets and art this week, we also celebrated Stewart's Mother's birthday. This entailed getting a bus to a different part of town, even momentarily leaving Edinburgh. I enjoyed watching the scenery going by and seeing the snow dusted hills in the distance. We had a lovely lunch out with Stewart's Mom and Gran and then it was back on the bus. I have come a long way with my bus riding skills, actually enjoying walking on the moving bus and remembering to hold on, however I am still too shy to pay my own fare...  

All the events of this week aside, the art and the event that eclipsed all others was the opening of Stewart Bremner and Kevin Low's exhibition Worlds Apart at Union Gallery. The work was finally transported to the gallery earlier in the week and then expertly hung by owner Alison Auldjo. The show confidently opened to a packed house last night with many red dots throughout the evening. The gallery was abuzz as people came to look at Stewart and Kevin's work. It was an odd coupling that worked beautifully. The mysterious worlds created by Kevin and the dynamic and classically abstract work of Stewart's came together to create a strange but somehow obvious balance. Worlds Apart is a strong exhibition that brings works out of the dark that need to be seen. This is the work that people want, this is the work people need to see and the work that sadly seems missing from the Edinburgh art scene. It was a thrill for me to be able to see it all on the gallery walls and to see Stewart and Kevin working the room and completely in their elements. This will be one of the highlights of my visit to Edinburgh and one of the memories that make potentially living in this city seem possible and a lovely option. Good art makes me happy. Knowing good artists and being in good galleries makes me happy. Talking to people about art and meeting people that appreciate art makes me happy. All of that happened last night at Union Gallery and Worlds Apart brought it all together.