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 Â 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, Â ‘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, wasÂ 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.
Many 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, Â 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