2019 Silvana McLean RSW ‘A Life in Art’

The Whitehouse Gallery pays tribute to Silvana McLean RSW, one of Dumfries & Galloway’s leading lights in the art world, who sadly passed away in 2018.

This solo exhibition will include a large collection of Silvana’s prints and original paintings, and will run from 2nd – 23rd February. The Preview is on Saturday 2nd February, doors will open from 11am. Please come and enjoy complementary refreshments and local chocolates. All are welcome.

Four local makers who Silvana greatly respected have been invited to take part in this exhibition, each taking inspiration from Silvana and her work.  These include Amanda Simmons (glass), Lizzie Farey (willow sculpture), Ruth Elizabeth Jones (ceramics) and Hannah McAndrew (ceramics).

Silvana McLean RSW

Silvana’s journey into art began with an early passion to draw and paint at school, which eventually lead to her attending Glasgow School of Art.  Art had to take second place whilst Silvana’s family were young, but she always had some kind of outlet for her creativity; painting objects from craftwork, furniture, cards and walls to children’s faces. As the kids grew up, and space became available for a studio, painting and printmaking came more into focus.

The core of Silvana’s particular practice was to incorporate emotion, response, and feeling into the work, so that although the physical reality was in some way portrayed, the painting or print or book would also convey something intangible, in the way poetry expresses those things that cannot be exactly described by words, Silvana aspired to paint the way a poet writes. This results in her work occasionally being viewed as semi-abstract, but that abstraction is always in context with the source material. The viewing individual does not usually have access to source/background information, so this semi-abstract method invites the viewer to either make up their own story, or to intuit Silvana’s intentions, either of which is also a creative process. So work can in that way have a creative life of its own, as well as having a personal reality for the artist. This lack of absolute fixation is the stuff of her art – fluidity of expression and intention, providing stimulation to the audience, asking them to react in unpredictable ways.

Although this exhibition will feature more recent work, there will be some interesting insights into her journey, including a much treasured painting called ‘The Lighthouse’, which was part of Silvana’s school work, submitted with other work in application to Art School.  This will be on loan from Silvana’s family for this exhibition.

Much of the collection will be from her Icelandic work, completed in 2017. The latest collection of works were based on a five week winter residency on the north coast of Iceland, where three feet of snow was on the ground at sea level.

Many visits North were made over a period of years, but this was intended to be the last Icelandic field trip; Silvana felt that it was time to move on. The next focus was never decided. Illness overtook events, and within a very short time work became impossible.

Early in 2017,  Silvana was elected as an RSW (The Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour), a prestigious honour for an artist.

Silvana showed love in her work, for the media used, and for the subjects. For her, life was all about love. Anything else was an unwelcome distraction.

For more information, please contact Lynne on 01557 330223  or info@whitehousegallery.co.uk

The Whitehouse Gallery

47 St Mary’s Street


Dumfries & Galloway


Opening Times: Monday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm

photocredit: Euan Adamson

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