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I’ve been to see ‘Shifting Vistas’

This small exhibition covers 250 years of artistic representations of Scottish landscapes… although in a slightly odd curatorial decision, some paintings are of landscapes in other parts of the world.

This is a small exhibition, but there were a few pictures which were new to me, and which I particularly enjoyed. I didn’t take any of the pictures in this post, as photography was forbidden.


This is one of Joan Eardley’s seascapes. I think it is the one I saw in the gallery, showing Catterline near Stonehaven, but I may be mistaken. My memory isn’t photographic, and there’s no published catalogue to compare against.

I like the dynamism and emotion that this painting captures: it’s recognisably a seascape, but it strikes me that there’s much more in it to explore. I particularly like the contrast between the chaotic sea and coastline compared to the calmness of the sky. It drew me in.


This is William MacTaggart’s 1974 work, Autumn Leaves. Regular readers will know that my colour vision isn’t great, but I love the warmth of the oranges and reds of this painting. I was drawn to the inspired combination of the autumn scene with sunset, given that autumn feels a bit like the sunset of the year. There’s something peaceful and reflective about this painting.

I also like the prominence of the blue and purple elements which wouldn’t necessarily be expected, and the recognisable building in the back of the picture. It was another picture that I found absorbing.


This is The Valley of the Shadow, Loch Coruisk by Robert Burns. Represented as it is above, this painting doesn’t really move me. In the gallery, it seemed considerably more abstract, the forms of the mountains and the loch being much less clearly discernible. It turns out that it’s actually disappointingly literal.

This is, I think, attributable to something that irritated me throughout this exhibition: the lighting. The gallery seems to have positioned spotlights on each painting—so far, so normal—but they seem to be undiffused. This means that the glare and reflections on canvases makes some works really quite difficult to see: I had to duck and weave to get an impression. I’m not sure if the space has been recently refitted or something, but it’s really not working as well as it could.


Shifting Vistas: 250 Years of Scottish Landscape continues at the City Art Centre until June next year.

This post was filed under: Art, Post-a-day 2023, , , , .

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