Instrinsically Optimistic, Comprehensively Exhilarating

I am never quite sure what to expect when I visit one of my favourite art galleries, The Open Eye in Edinburgh. Let me explain. The featured work currently  is that of the artist Ruth Nicol. I had thought the works would probably have a ‘delicate touch’. Not at all. Her paintings are all inspired by poets and very well-known artists like Sandy Moffat and Alan Riach. Many of them are big, bold exhilarating landscapes.

Ruth has faced and overcome challenges in her life so far. A princpal one was suffering from dyslexia. This did not prevent her from becoming a business systems analyst in one of Edinburgh’s big finanacial institutions.

Then came the big’ wake-up call’. Ruth said,  ‘this had been coming for a long time, brewing inside me, so I went as a mature student to Edinburgh School of Art from 2006 to 2010 when I graduated and became a full-time artist.’

One person who was a a positive influence for good in Ruth’s artistic development was the artist Sandy Moffat. He too, was at the Exhibition Private View and he, too, had been a student at Edinburgh College of Art. He drily added ‘that was when it was a proper College of Art. I feel flattered by being an inspiration to Ruth.’

Ruth was brought up in the east end of Glasgow and went to school there. ‘I loved it and my parents were both enthralled by Sandy Moffat.’

Now Ruth lives in Leith and has her own studio at Meadowbank complex.

Biggar, Hugh MacDairmid, 2014, Ruth Nicol, 1.5x1.5m Acrylic on CanvasMany of her 52 paintings on show are inspired by famous poets. For example her own favourite is a very large (2mx 4m) acrylic, ‘Stromness’ inspired by George Mackay Brown (pictured above left,  and a similar work ‘Biggar’ (1.5m x 1.5m) (left) also acrylic on canvas, depicts Brownsbank Cottage in Biggar where poet Hugh McDiarmid ended his days.

Her brother, David O’Neill, helps. David works behind the scenes in both television and the theatre and invented and installed a platform and pulley system in the studio so Ruth can reach to the top of her bigger works.

Not all the paintings are huge and there is a good range of smaller, attractive pieces all at very affordable prices. When I asked Ruth
how she felt about selling her paintings she gave me a highly original answer. “My pictures are my babies. I need to let them go and have some more.’ I do hope she does just that.

The Open Eye Gallery
34 Abercromby Place

0131 557 1020

The Exhibition runs from 13th October to 29th October 2014

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Christine Richard OBE FRSA Christine has over 25 years' experience in public life in Scotland in the fields of politics, education, public relations and charity work. For 12 years she served on the City of Edinburgh District Council and was her Group's leader for 4 years. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1992 she was made an OBE. Christine is a member of the Board of The Friends of the Royal Scottish Academy. She has just completed six years on the Board of The Edinburgh International Festival. Christine's business experience has covered the fields of theatre, economic development, science, coal mining, education and training. She has held a number of non-executive directorships in these disciplines. She is a trained and experienced personal relationships counsellor and a business and personal mentor. In 2005 Christine established Christine Richard Associates who undertake Event Management and Public Relations as well as company and individual profiling. She coordinated the 'Yes to Edinburgh' campaign on congestion charging in Edinburgh. ten years ago Christine co-founded West Lothian Women in Business, which is a network for women who are self-employed and also for women managers. Christine has now stepped down from the Chair of this thriving organisation. For 5 years Christine was a magistrate in the District Court. She was also a member of the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on the appointment of Justices of the Peace. She has been an adviser to Government in various areas of policy, including health, local government and education. Christine is a trained and experienced radio and television broadcaster and writer as well as an entertaining and accomplished speaker. She has a wealth of topics on which she is invited to speak. These range from witty after lunch and after dinner speaking to the more serious topics of the economy, health, education, enterprise, the Powers of the Mind and Life/work balance. She writes reviews and articles for lifestyle magazine, Lothian Life. She took part as a contestant in an ITV gourmet TV show, Chef V Britain, challenging TV chef Gino D'Acampo to cook her signature dish, Posh Cottage Pie. Currently Christine is a member of the Goodison Group in Scotland and Scotland's Futures. Also she is involved in the group Changing the Chemistry of Scottish Boards. Her first novel, Whitewalls, a modern Scottish family saga has been published by New Generation Publishing and is available on all internet books siets and from libraries. She is writing a sequel Autumn at Whitewalls. Her leisure interests include her family, literature, music, theatre, food, wine and horse racing. She is a member of a racing syndicate, which has two horses in training.

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