Linlithgow’s Line Gallery has opened its seventeenth Christmas exhibition, The Angel that Troubled the Waters, as teasing a title as ever might be imagined for a Christmas show. Perhaps, however, it refers simply to the several portrayals of angels – by Martin Williams, Marjorie Crooks and Hephzibah Kilbride – on display rather than to the Biblical pool at Bethesda where healing was promised to whomever entered the pool after it had been troubled by an angel, or even to Thornton Wilder’s play of the same title.
The Line has collated, as ever, a fascinating collection (on show until Christmas Eve) from a rich source of seemingly disparate, multi-faceted modestly priced pieces.  Local historical interest might focus on Gemma Baitup’s two prints, one an imagined medieval interior of LinlithgowPalaceand the other the same of Bo’ness Castle.  Austin Taylor’s photographs of Shetland also stand out.  Anna Divers’ River Plain Near the Forth, an eye-catching, miniature, mixed-media landscape, almost entirely in greens, will also have a local appeal.
Several strong themes do emerge however.  In particular, birds, animals and wild-life figure prominently.
Dog-lovers will instantly recognise the characters portrayed in Amanda Drummond’s photographs: Waiting (a sleek, lively black Labrador), What’s Over There? III (a pair of alert greyhounds); and Charge I (a terrier in full chase).  These photographs represent excellent value to anyone committed to their canine subject matter.
Lucy Newton’s Raven is black as any raven but his blackness comprises browns, greens, blues, even a streak of yellow, a wise insight into the multiple colours which shine through any bird’s plumage but also a nice counter-blast to the sinister image usually attributed to this magnificent and intelligent bird.  By contrast her Highland Cow seems almost idyllic – or at least bucolic.
Connie Smith’s three acrylic bird pieces carry atmosphere as well as accuracy.  In particular, Crow and Cooling Towers, with its menacing carrion crow, mist-enshrouded on a fence, could be one of the infamous ‘twa corbies’ pondering the medieval knight’s corpse but for the two utterly modern cooling towers behind – yet even they provide no comfort in this bleak vision.
Local artist Leo du Feu (www.leodufeu.co.uk) has two superbly simple pencil-on-card landscapes, Forest Glimpsed from a Train and A Miniature Valley but perhaps the star piece of the show is his acrylic Grey Heron.
The magnificent bird’s gaunt, vigilant stance has been perfectly captured and this small work demands the observer’s attention exactly as does its subject, often missed but always exciting when glimpsed in the wild.  Who knows?  Perhaps Leo du Feu’s heron, scouring the pool for his next repast, is our water-troubling angel.
 
The above article was first published in Lothian life on 25 November 2012: http://www.lothianlife.co.uk/2012/11/the-angel-that-troubled-the-water-exhibition-review/

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