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New Dual Exhibition in Da Gadderie

by Deborah Leggate -

JJ Ignatius Brennan – Auto Portraits

Rob Colclough – Traces, Elements, Atmosphere

A new exhibition opens in Da Gadderie at Shetland Museum and Archives on Saturday 7th January, until 5th February 2012. The exhibition includes work from two artists, both mainly depicting Shetland, but expressing two very different ways of seeing the islands.

JJ Ignatius Brennan, a professional artist of Irish origin and member of Shetland Artists group Veer North, splits his time between France and Yell. The journey between the two places usually takes in London, hence the subject matter of this exhibition.

He sketches from moving cars, coaches and buses overlaying numerous images in one work. Drawing, whilst being driven, gives an extra sense of movement. Back in the studio these sketches are then enlarged by drawing with a hot glue gun. This enables him to retain the immediate and dynamic qualities of the original sketch.

Whilst the subject matter of all the work is traffic, the three locations result in three different styles of image. In France the RN10 is the main freight route from Paris and Northern Europe to Spain and Portugal and is a 24 hour convoy of trucks which are the principal subject matter of these drawings.

In London the M25 and M11 are main arteries for all types of traffic into and around London and it is the density of this traffic that provides the inspiration for these images. In Shetland the landscape and weather are impressive and cannot be ignored and they therefore take a more prominent role in the work.

There are several of JJ's portraits which have identifiable local car number plates. During the exhibition, JJ will offer a prize to any driver who can present a log book from one of the vehicles featuring in the show to Museum staff.

To Rob Colclough, watercolour is a beautiful medium: “It tends to have a life of its own helping me, if steered in the right direction, to increase the spontaneity of the images I paint.”

Rob paints all his watercolours outside. He believes that painting an image outdoors, while in front of the subject, leads to a more spontaneous result as he paints with abandon and has less time to ponder and fuss. Painting in front of the subject also gives him all the details he needs, details which can be lost painting from sketches. Being outside is extremely important to him both on a spiritual level and also as a means to find inspiration to paint.

When painting an image, such as a boat, the way the colours of the boat play on the water and sky and how they interact with each other become the main focus, rather than the boat itself. The fragile flowers he paints, interacting with the sky and vegetation around them, always look so vulnerable in the wind and changeable weather but clearly find a way to survive and serve their purpose. The drama of the landscape, the interaction of light on the shapes of the solid mass of land, ever changing with the seasons all inspire him.

Rob's oil paintings are often started outdoors and are then completed from sketches and drawings. He tends to paint more oils in winter as the weather dictates what can realistically be achieved outside on some days. Shetland is a place full of contrasts and this is reflected in his oil paintings. Inspiration comes from the wild seas of winter; the tropical colours in the ebb on a bright summer day; the exhilarating sight and sound of birds arriving in spring and the tranquil un-spoilt hills in summer; the melancholy quiet of winter with its wild storms racing over the sea, turning all in its path into a maelstrom of salty water lashing on windows.

Before moving to Shetland in 2006 Rob exhibited in his native Derbyshire and Sheffield. He is a member of Veer North and Yell Art and has exhibited regularly in Shetland over the last 5 years.

For further information on any of Da Gadderie exhibitions, please contact John Hunter at the Shetland Museum and Archives on 01595 741559 or

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