Towards St Andrews
a collection of new works by Robert MacMillan
available online and in the gallery from 21 November 2020
“This new body of work centres upon my love and appreciation of St Andrews and the areas that surround it.
Having shown with Roderick and Louise for some twenty years and, over my many visits to the gallery in St Andrews, have become more conscious of the architecture, the beaches, the atmosphere and quality of light that encompasses this small, vibrant town.
Prior to starting on this body of work, I photographed and sketched in and around St Andrews. I also immersed myself in the area through walking and taking notes.
Over the years I have become increasingly dependent on the use of memory, filtering out what is not needed and holding on to the vital elements; be that a church, the ancient ruins, flags from a golf course, sections of a beach or hidden coves.
In the early days of lockdown in Spring this year, we spent time as a family outside much more than usual and many hours were spent exploring parks, forests and beaches where I was captivated by the sky; the rapidly changing cloud forms and the ever-changing light. And so, I began with a series of small paintings entitled ‘Notes from the Sky’, trying to capture the essence of what I’d seen and been inspired by.
Another piece that was made early on in this body of work was ‘Passing Storm, East Sands I’, undoubtedly in reference to Covid and in the hope that this would indeed be a passing storm. A second, larger version, of this was made and in both the easily recognisable structures of the Cathedral ruins can be seen as viewed from the East sands.
There is also the great influence of Turner running through so much of my work. His use of oil paint, his understanding of light and colour has undoubtedly had a huge impact on my approach to painting.
‘Golden Haze’ is greatly inspired by frequent visits to the Eden estuary. Again, with that Turner influence very much in mind, I glazed, scraped and reworked this image in the hope of capturing the effect of sunlight at its most dazzling and to portray its ability to turn the strongest of forms into diffused shadows of yellow and gold.
The final and last painting I finished reminded me not only of the power and benefits of nature but also, for me personally, how painting became a relief and form of escapism from this ongoing pandemic. Again, inspired by the Eden estuary I reworked areas constantly in search of a rhythm and harmony and therefore it felt appropriate to name it ‘Solace (from the Estuary)’.” – Robert MacMillan, November 2020