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“I returned home to paint…”

As part of Mareel’s Official Opening Weekend, Shetland Arts is proud to present an exhibition of new work by Callum Moncrieff in the Upstairs Café Bar in Mareel this Sunday.

Callum was born in Shetland in 1954, but spent 20 years practising as an artist and teaching in various art colleges in the north of England. Giving up a job as senior lecturer, he returned to Shetland 4 years ago to paint. This exhibition is a result of that.

After leaving school, Callum was variously employed within the islands until leaving in 1984 to pursue a career in Art. He settled with his young family in the North West of England. Initially, Callum studied Technical Illustration, but soon realised he wanted to study Fine Art. After a period of illustrating car manuals, he gained a place at Liverpool Polytechnic (now John Moore’s University) to study for a B.A. (Hons.) in Fine Art Sculpture. In 1990 he gained a M.A. in Fine Art Sculpture from Manchester Polytechnic (now Manchester Metropolitan University)

After completing his M.A., Callum rented studio space in an old boatyard on the River Weaver in Cheshire and, between 1989 and 2008, taught on various Fine Art courses, from foundation to graduate level, in Liverpool and Chester as well as taking part in a variety of artist residencies and art projects. In 2008 he gave up his position as a senior lecturer and left England to return to his native Shetland to concentrate on his own Art practice.

Callum still lives in Shetland, and is developing a body of work that he hopes in some ways reflects thoughtfully, his experiences outwith Shetland in the context of his native land. He has works in collections in America, Canada, China, France, Italy and Britain, and said of his paintings in Mareel:

"The works for the show in Mareel have been shaped around the idea of, ‘a sense of place’. This place is my home the Shetland Isles. Since my return to Shetland my creative practice has centred upon the making of a body of painterly work that deals with my personal interpretation of these islands and their particular properties. From its oozing ragged edge, to its sheep-worn interior, where scrubby, ancient cut moorland offers dark brown pools edged with acrid yellows and greens, Shetland can become a compelling and irresistible subject for the artist.”

Callum’s paintings in Mareel are about capturing these properties and the marks they leave. Sometimes the work begins by the burying of a large swathe of canvas in a deep peaty bog. Left for weeks the canvas is removed and washed in a burn or loch, some deposit remains in the form of a stain. A beginning.

Clair Aldington, Shetland Arts’ Visual Arts Development Officer, commented: “By training a sculptor, the paintings in Mareel represent a journey Callum has been on since returning home to Shetland. Having seen Callum’s work progress and develop in his studio over the last few years, and his struggles with working on such a large scale in a confined space, it is a delight to now see them displayed in Mareel.”

Callum has recently been awarded a Visual Artist Award from Shetland Arts, which is a bursary scheme for developing new work run in partnership with Creative Scotland and Shetland Islands Council Economic Development Unit.

Callum Moncrieff’s exhibition will remain in Mareel until October 2013.  Everyone is warmly invited to come and meet the artist on Sunday 18 November from 11am – 12.30pm and help celebrate the opening of his exhibition and the Official Opening Weekend at Mareel.

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