This highly talented artist, Matthew Draper, is currently exhibiting his works ‘Amongst the Clouds’ at the Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh. The title of the show describes both with accuracy and mystery the evocative nature of his pictures.
Until now I had not come across Matthew’s work but viewing the exhibition, which continues until 26 November, I was immediately enchanted. In this review I have concentrated on the Lothian aspects of the paintings of East Lothian and ‘Auld Reekie’. His other images of the Highlands also follow the dreaminess of his style. Matthew has a great admiration for the consummate 18th Century artist Alexander Naysmith and a section in this exhibition is titled ‘Homage to Alexander Naysmith’.
The medium used in every picture is pastel on paper which produces a surprisingly ‘in depth’ result. Draper explains: “The paper is not only my end object, it’s my palette.” He works much of time outdoors which means there is little separation between atmosphere and finished work.
I was curious about the paramount importance of the paper itself. He explains: ‘The paper used, which took years to develop consists of heavy layers of printmakers paper that I work and work with pastels from Germany and France, or hand-rolled in Britain, producing heavy images in earthy browns and greens.
When painting in the early mornings, he says of Edinburgh: “It’s wild, I’ve not lived anywhere where the weather and light is so dramatic. It’s a beautiful city. I’ve always made work about the places I’ve I’ve lived. It’s an inspiring place to bean artist, especially if you make work about landscape … In the mornings I reach for the magical hour when the light changes … you go to see it, then it disappears.”
My own particular favourites are ‘Crystal Clear, a Morning at Seacliff, Nocturne with Polluted Light and ‘Winter Haar’ (all pictured, thought the reprint does not do them justice!) andthe entire collection really is beautiful.
Matthew trained at Falmouth College of Art which, no surprisingly led him to create many paintings around Land’s End. However, since the late 1990s he has worked and displayed in Scotland, and Edinburgh is now his base. His work is in a number of Scottish Collections: Bank of Scotland Edinburgh, Edinburgh City Arts Centre, Art in Healthcare, Turcan Connell, Morton Fraser, among others.
Awards over the past 16 years include The Alexander Graham Munro Travel Award, awards from the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour (2000), the Charles Pears Award, Royal Society of Marine Artists, Mail Galleries, London.
The Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6HZ,
Telephone 0131 558 1200