Postcards from the Line is the unique exhibition now running (until 4 November) at the Line Gallery in Linlithgow’s High Street.  The concept is simple: the pieces exhibited include nothing bigger than A6, nothing framed and no glass, may be in any medium or on any theme and nothing costs more than £100. Within that wonderful set of broad definitions for small works of art, 218 pieces have been brought together.
On entering the gallery the first piece is a photograph by Ian McPherson of a St Kilda Wren.  It is entirely apposite that an exhibition of small pieces of art should start with our smallest bird, beautifully captured, challenging the larger world and pointing defiantly to a set of twelve black and white wood engravings, one for each month of the year. January Blades by Linda Farquharson shows two ice-skaters.  Linda Farquharson also produced the July card, July bathers, two children on the sand.  Phillipa Swan’sNovember Fireworks has a typically wise owl in the foreground, oblivious as it were of the raucous fireworks exploding in the sky behind him.
Among the well-represented artists is Linlithgow based Leo de Feu whose wild-life pieces capture far more than the appearance of the creatures depicted.  His pencil and water colour Shelduck Studies appear as rapidly completed sketches but they have grasped the peculiarities of the beautiful duck, each colour exactly toned.  His acrylic on card Coot is also masterly: the bird is black and white, the water is black and white, the background is black and white but the red of the coot’s eyes, bring this miniature explosion totally to life.  His Common Gull, also acrylic on card, portrays a lazy gull in repose, head turned backwards and tucked into wings, grey and white against a nondescript background – except for a container ship, chock-a-block with containers in gaudy colours, sailing behind.

The wild-theme is also central to the work of Edinburgh-based Lucy Newton, whose PochardWhite Hare and Red Squirrel all show superbly detailed creatures, nervously alive, caught in a brief moment by the artist’s eye and immortalised. Paul Boyle’s series of photographs, all entitled eitherHull supports or Hull seascapes show the wooden hulls of small boats, supported in the sand on which they lie by a wooden post or against a seascape.  The wood itself is almost the core subject of each photograph, its grains, colours and shapes, but these photographs are also about colour: washed-out blues and sandy yellows, pale, almost greyish browns with the occasional darker hue, colours of sand and wood and water, hypnotic colours.
Quite different photographs are provided by Claire Cochrane.  Her various evocative night scenes all portray powerfully lit houses against night or evening skies, scenes however entirely devoid of human figures.  Where have the people gone?  Why are the yards deserted?  What is happening in these illuminated homes? This entirely eclectic collection could entertain minute description of every piece.  A selection needs suffice but it is impossible to leave this exhibition without mention of Roddy Simpson’s sepia tinted photograph of the late Edwin Morgan, a portrait which captures the puckish humour and human warmth of one of Scotland’s finest poets of the last sixty years.
This treasure chest of small-scale, contemporary Scottish art should not be missed.
 
The above article was first published in Lothian Life on 4 October 2012: http://www.lothianlife.co.uk/2012/10/postcards-from-the-line/

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