Stenton Gallery - Press Comments

Art reviewing at the current time is restricted to a narrow range of galleries.
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January 2007

The old man and the sea

Visual Art By Catriona Black

'That doesn't stop them flying off the walls at Stenton Gallery, in the village of the same name. The exhibition is re-jigged before my eyes, when a pair of paintings are removed for a customer in Edinburgh. But my favourites remain, including Incident At The Beer Hall, where a grim-looking couple are squashed together in a claustrophobic interior. Their bodies face each other, sex implied by the phallic symbolism of the lighthouse and cocktail glass, but their faces look away, numbly, towards the viewer.
There's an even more dysfunctional couple portrayed in the etching, Rose And Crown, which is presumably from the mid-1980s (none of the works are dated). They're drunk and leery in a bar, their lopsided, alcohol-soaked grimaces quite compelling in a grizzly kind of way. He plays his card, or perhaps it's a domino, on the table. He eyes you, waiting for your move. Bellany, ruined with alcohol, knew he was dicing with death; gamblers, clocks and fish bones make frequent appearances to that effect.
In the end, Bellany won the gamble. He gave up drink, remarried his first wife, Helen, and recovered fully from the dangerous liver transplant. And, judging by the orange harbour scenes of the last few years, he is now living happily ever after.'


Sunday Herald,13 March 2005

'The month of December usually means mixed group shows for many commercial galleries. In the Edinburgh area notable representatives of this section of the art scene are the Stenton Gallery, the Landings Gallery, the Leith Gallery and the Randolph Gallery. All these establishments, and their equivalents throughout the country, have to negotiate a tricky course between constantly seeking out exciting, but unproven, artistic talent, and the ever-pressing economic demands of running successful businesses. This does not happen overnight. It involves slowly building up a loyal collecting clientele, through realising where their tastes lie and then assessing how much to price their wares in order to turn that taste into actual purchases. Ambitious and more adventurous galleries will also wish to expand the number and nature of their customer body. This can be achieved by introducing into their programme more adventurous and challenging art which, if successful, will further raise the critical status of the gallery and the artists they show. In this part of the art world 'spot the future Picasso or Vettriano' is an important aspect of the role played by these galleries. Indeed many of them have been perceptive enough to discover and encourage early on aspiring artists who have gone on to establish long and important careers. This has always been the case: the young unknown David Wilkie made his name and fortune in spectacular fashion by being immediately spotted as exceptional talent by those in the art business. Bourne Fine Art are celebrating his immense fame and influence in their new show 'Wilkie and his Circle'. Then coming up to date that GOM of abstract painting John McLean is still extending the possibility of his art as displayed at the Talbot Rice Gallery (until 13 December). Yet he too has the backing and support of his London commercial gallery, Flowers. Finally, Randolph Gallery is hoping to find a new star amongst their four-person exhibition (3-31 December) and are especially promoting the work of Hilary Twiselton, recent graduate of Dundee Art College and winner of the prestigious Betty Davies award - another star in the making?'

Bill Hare, 'Galleries' magazine, December 2003

'If the outdoor life isn't your scene, then there's a wealth of galleries to visit in the area. Two that shouldn't be missed are the Stenton Gallery and the Arts and Crafts Gallery at Fenton Barns, both in East Lothian.'

East Lothian News, 18 July 2003

'If the outdoor life isn't your scene, then there's a wealth of galleries to visit in the area. Two that shouldn't be missed are the Stenton Gallery and the Arts and Crafts Gallery at Fenton Barns, both in East Lothian.'

East Lothian News, 18 July 2003

'Many thanks for such a warm and informative welcome last month when I brought some of my Monday Art Group members to your gallery. I certainly hope to bring other groups for a dose of inspiration later in the year - combining it with a sketching trip in the village perhaps!'

Sally Collins, Longniddry, 14 April 2003

'Thank you again for allowing us to visit you at Stenton Gallery on Wednesday. You, your husband and the girls were so hospitable. As you know we are also such a wide-ranging group but you catered so kindly for our every need. The gallery and the exhibition provide such a refreshing atmosphere it was a real pleasure to visit.'

Morven Whytock and Judith Fleming, The Friends of the RSA, 10 July 2002

In Scotland you’re never far from a link with art
'In the 1880s the Glasgow Boys made Cockburnspath their home. Roslin, too, attracted artists, being painted by Nasmyth and others. Temple was, from 1939-1973, the home of William Gillies, who painted the lowland hills and the view from his windows. Another son of the Borders was abstractionist William Johnstone, a farmer's boy and one of Scotland's still-neglected 20th-century masters. Today, appropriately, the Stenton Gallery has made a name for itself as a home for abstraction, while other galleries abound at Broughton, Ancrum and Melrose. At Dunsyre Ian Hamilton Finlay's garden 'Little Sparta', a living and constantly growing artwork, is one of the country's most important pieces of public art. And over on the Firth of Forth in the 1960s John Bellany began his long career by painting fishing life at Port Seton, his home town. In more conceptual vein, at Dunbar in the 1970s environmental artist Glen Onwin used the salt marshes as material and inspiration for his work.'

Paint, people and places, Iain Gale, Caledonia, June 2002

'You would no doubt expect to find pieces as engaging as ... Campbell Sandilands’s sublime Japanese-inspired abstractions from East Lothian’s Stenton on view exclusively in Edinburgh or Glasgow, if not in London.'

Iain Gale, Scotland on Sunday, 31 March 2002

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'The Stenton Gallery's artists are ... receptive to both national and international influences.
At Stenton Gallery, in the seemingly quiet secluded East Lothian, the worlds of East and West meet.'
Bill Hare, Galleries, March 2002

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'The best buys in terms of sheer popularity were [Nael] Hanna and Frances Macdonald. Hanna's pictures flew out of the Glasgow Art Show and his shows at the Stenton Gallery in East Lothian.'
Alex Bell, (Best Shows of 2001), The Herald, January 2002

'An East Lothian art gallery has come to Edinburgh to display an excellent cross-section of Scottish contemporary art in a special Festival exhibition.'
VisitScotland website, August 2001

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'What makes the gallery different is its consistency in giving wall space to art which is innovative, inspired and of high quality. Importantly, too, it is as far away from the expected as you could imagine.'
Caledonia, May 2001

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'Stenton Gallery has great appeal. It is very much part and parcel of village life, helping to sustain the fabric of village life into the 21st century and of course capture the artistic beauty of Scotland and her artists.'
East Lothian Life, Spring 2001

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'At the Stenton Gallery, you'll encounter an eclectic collection of new and established Scottish artists. As well as some less obvious stuff, there is bound to be something you'd hang on your walls to remind you of this gentle upland journey.'
Peter Irvine, The Sunday Times, February 18, 2001

'... made to feel so welcome [in] the friendly atmosphere of the gallery. It manages to feel peaceful and stimulating at the same time. Each [exhibitor] was quite individual, and brought different responses - all positive - yet lived together so satisfyingly.'
Friends of Edinburgh City Art Centre, October 2000

'Barbara Christie, Stenton - hands-on dealer in contemporary abstracts'
and 'Stenton Gallery - Not really Edinburgh, but nearby. Some excellent modernists.'
Caledonia, April 2000

'The work on show from the Stenton Gallery in East Lothian ... which does not usually feature in the critical columns but who doggedly champion local painters and sculptors, will find its own market.'
The Scotsman, 12 April 2000

'A series of small rooms in a handsome stone building, ... it is larger and more ambitious than many rural galleries'
and 'You may find yourself imagining how well some of the paintings might sit on your own walls, or taking the plunge to buy. It's that sort of show.'
Scotland on Sunday, 23 January 2000

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'A soft, smoky autumn afternoon, trees on the turn, sporadic golds smouldering between the tarnished greens, the ploughed fields glowing in that soft, pastel brick shade of East Lothian soil. Outside the gallery, ruddy masonry and pantiles basked in a mellow diffuse sunlight.'
Jim Gilchrist in The Scotsman, Oct 21,1999 (on a visit to Stenton Gallery).

'Well worth a detour - East Lothian's Stenton Gallery'
ArtWork, Feb/March 1999