Below is an archive of some of our past art exhibitions.
Birds, Botany and John Clare - Carry Akroyd (8 June - 31 July 2022)
Established wildlife artist Carry Akroyd has long admired the poetry of John Clare (1793 – 1864). The core of this exhibition in the gallery is a suite of 16 hand-drawn lithographs that incorporate extracts from his poems, while the full text of the poems will be displayed alongside the prints. Although so much of the rural landscape familiar to Clare has changed, his observations and concerns still speak to us two hundred years on. Carry Akroyd lives in Northamptonshire and draws inspiration from the farmed landscape around her where wildlife survives mostly on the edges. Her work, as a painter and printmaker, is characterised by a bold palette and a strong sense of composition. (Image: Swifts by Carry Akryod)
Nature, Prints and Poetry - Society of Wood Engravers (8 June - 31 July 2022)
This small exhibition, organised with the support of the Society of Wood Engravers, presents wood engravings by 13 artists, alongside the poems that inspired them. Wood engraving was traditionally used to illustrate books, with Thomas Bewick developing the use of this technique in the late 18th century. Today, it continues to be used by artists who value the fine detail and wide tonal range it offers. Rooted in the illustration of books and natural history subjects, wood engravings are a fitting companion for poetry. Both share a similar intensity: like a poem’s few stanzas, a wood engraving encapsulates a whole world despite its often diminutive size. (Image: Wren by Kay A Brown)
Joint exhibition - Kittie Jones and Wynona Legg (27 April - 5 June 2022)
Kittie Jones and Wynona Legg, both members of the Society of Wildlife Artists, share an expressive approach to their work. Drawing primarily from life in the field, they aim to capture the movements of animals and the constant changes that characterise the natural world. Their joint exhibition also highlights their respective responses to the constraints of the past two years: while Kittie found wilderness in the city, Wynona used online webcams to observe animals across the globe. (Image: Eider Group by Kittie Jones)
Under the Skin - James and Ed Harrison (3 March - 24 April 2022)
'Under the Skin' presents the work of two artists and brothers, James and Ed Harrison. They create interactive screenprints to support the conservation of endangered animals. Each print focuses on a vulnerable species and is developed in association with a charity involved in its conservation. The aim is to raise funds, as well as awareness, and 20% of the proceeds from the sale of the prints go to the charity partner. The prints are hand-made screenprints with layers of colour that result in bold and joyous designs. However, the seriousness of their message is delivered with a punch: when a UV light is shone on the print, the skeleton of the animal is revealed. Visitors to Waterston House will be handed UV torches with which to enjoy and ponder a series of around 20 of these interactive prints. This exhibition will take place in the corridor, concurrently with the exhibition 'Facing West' by Jane Smith presented in the Gallery. (Image: Great Hammerhead Shark by James & Ed Harrison)
Facing West - Jane Smith (3 March - 24 April 2022)
A new collection of screenprints by Jane Smith inspired by the West coast of Scotland will be on display in the gallery, concurrently with the 'Under the Skin' exhibition in the corridor. The landscape of the West coast is heavily indented by sea lochs and even on the mountain-tops one is never far from the coast. The pervasive presence of the sea has an impact on both the landscape and wildlife and even garden goldfinches must negotiate the sea breeze. Jane’s work aims to capture the way birds, and animals in general, belong in their environment from a biological as well as aesthetic point of view. (Image: Hebridean Summer by Jane Smith)
To the Waters and the Wild - British Tapestry Group (13 January - 27 February 2022)
This exhibition of tapestry presents work by the Scottish members of the British Tapestry Group (BTG) inspired by the natural world. BTG aims to promote woven tapestry as a contemporary artform. It provides a platform for weavers to connect, develop their work and exhibit. Weaving tapestry requires a significant investment in time, energy and skill. The resulting work is arresting, all the more so as this medium is relatively rarely shown. The exhibition also reveals the variety of approaches, both figurative and abstract, that the medium of tapestry encompasses.
The title of the exhibition, a verse from a WB Yeats poem, evokes the escape to be found in the natural world. If this was sometimes curtailed over the past couple of years, we have all learned to value it even more. Like many of us, the artists rediscovered their immediate environment, the local wood, the beach, the bird songs, and found inspiration there, or they looked inwards for memories of encounters with the wild further afield. The result is a small survey of tapestry today and a woven tribute to Nature. (Image: Winter Morning, Loch Brora by Joan Baxter)
The exhibition is accompanied by sculptures by Chris Hindley. A new exhibitor at Waterston House, Chris takes his inspiration from his own observations of wildlife as well as early decoys and folk art from North America.
Close to Home - Darren Woodhead (11 November 2021 - 9 January 2022)
Darren Woodhead’s new solo show “Close to Home” is an ode to the natural world and a reflection on the anchor it has been for the artist over the past months. As Darren explains: “Although the world has changed, my need to observe, document and record through watercolour has not. Even more so now, it is my escape, my sense of serenity and belonging. Many of the paintings have stemmed from observing birds in the garden or from “one man on his bike” trips in the field. Here, I could immerse myself in the changing seasons and the parallel natural world, and feel the ultimate connection to my subject, close to home.” (Image: Great Spotted Woodpecker by Darren Woodhead)
Wild Moments - Lorna Hamilton, Melanie Mascarenhas and Adele Pound (30 September - 7 November 2021)
The artists in this exhibition, Lorna Hamilton, Melanie Mascarenhas and Adele Pound, won a bursary on the Sea Bird Drawing Course. This bursary, awarded by the Society of Wildlife Artists annually, offers wildlife artists an opportunity to further develop their work. The Sea Bird Drawing Course was created by John Busby and takes place in various locations around East Lothian each summer. Adele, Lorna and Melanie share the ambition to capture a whole world in their work. They are quite experimental and use unusual ways of portraying wildlife such as graphic stories. (Image: Sanderliiiing by Adele Pound)
Painted Wings - Helga Chart, Claire Harkess and Derek Robertson (5 August - 26 September 2021)
"Painted Wings" brings together the work of Helga Chart, Claire Harkess and Derek Robertson, three established Scottish artists recognised in particular for their mastery of watercolour media. All three are elected members of RSW (The Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour). While their work is rooted in the observation of nature, it invariably captures other things: a moment in time, a sense of place, a deeper concern for the world and our place in it. (Image: Wee Gannets by Claire Harkess)
Song Lines by Val O'Regan (29 July - 1 August 2021)
In 2020 the SOC collaborated with the National Library of Scotland to digitise the Club’s sound archive as part of a large Lottery-funded project, Unlocking Our Sound Heritage. An important aspect of the project was the appointment of artist in residence Val O’Regan. Val was based at Benmore Botanic Garden where she organised workshops for children and adults to create artworks inspired by the recordings of birds in the archive, as well as developing her own work in response. A selection of the artworks created by Val during the residency are displayed at Waterston House. Documenting the experience of listening to the sounds through drawing, photography and found objects, Val used collage and the cyanotype technique to bring all these strands together. Images were cut, layered, fragmented to better represent these disparate inputs. Val’s work captures wonderfully these multiple sources of inspiration: the sounds, the birds, her environment at the time, and manages the seemingly impossible task of rendering this experience visually.
Wonder Wander - Andrea Geile (3 June - 26 September 2021)
This is the first extensive display of outdoor sculptures in our garden. For this exhibition award-winning sculptor Andrea Geile created a new body of work inspired by the coastal landscape and wildlife. These large sculptures, made using Corten steel and casting techniques in Andrea's Edinburgh studio, will grace our garden throughout the summer. (Image: Flit and Away by Andrea Geile)
Insectarium - Society of Scottish Artists (3 June - 25 July 2021)
This exhibition presents artworks created by members of the Society of Scottish Artists in response to the conflicting feelings that Insects inspire in us. Beautiful or repulsive, dangerous or inspiring, Insects are above all essential to life on earth, and certainly our own. "Insectarium" offers a collection of artworks that reflect our complex feelings towards these crucial creatures in a wide range of media: sculptures, paintings, prints and small installations.
The exhibition is organised jointly with the Society of Scottish Artists, a not-for-profit organisation run by artists for artists, whose primary function is to support its membership to organise, present and promote exhibitions and events, as well as offering a platform for discussion and sharing. (Image: Small Phoenix by Noelle Odling)
Joint Exhibition by John Threlfall, Esther Tyson and Simon Griffiths (29 April - 30 May 2021)
This exhibition brings together pastel drawings by John Threlfall and oil paintings by Esther Tyson with ceramics sculptures by Simon Griffiths. These artists take their inspiration from the close observation of animals in the wild.
For this exhibition, John Threlfall and Esther Tyson focus on wildlife in the North East of Scotland and the Cairngorms respectively while Simon Griffiths takes his inspiration from the countryside around him in County Durham. (Image: Wigeon by John Threlfall)
Joint Exhibition by Robert Greenhalf, Matt Underwood & Anthony Theakston (15 October 2020 - 10 January 2021)
This joint exhibition presents paintings and prints by Robert Greenhalf and Matt Underwood alongside sculptures by Anthony Theakston. (Image: Thistle and Linnets by Matt Underwood)
Coastal Birds by Emily Ingrey-Counter, Helen Kennedy and Liz Myhill (1 August - 27 September 2020)
This group exhibition brings together work by Emily Ingrey-Counter, Helen Kennedy and Liz Myhill. These three artists have worked along-side each other for some time. They won the same SWLA bursary in 2018 to attend the renowned Sea Bird Drawing Course, an important personal development course for wildlife artists created by John Busby. They have since met regularly to go on working trips drawing birds and wildlife. The work in this exhibition is the result of such trips to the Isle of May, St Abbs Head and the RSPB Mersehead Reserve, as well as work developed independently closer to home. (Image: Guillemot Rock by Liz Myhill)
Kindred Spirits by Carol Barrett, Graham Catlow, Frances Richardson, Carol Read and Richard Ballantyne (22 February - 22 March 2020)
This group exhibition, focusing on African wildlife, brings together work by Carol Barrett, Graham Catlow and Frances Richardson alongside sculptures by Carol Read and Richard Ballantyne. The title of the exhibition, ‘Kindred Spirits’, refers to the strong bond that the artists feel for the animals they depict. All three painters are also connected with Edinburgh Zoo, either as former artists in residence or former member of staff.
The work in the exhibition encompasses watercolours, pastels, lithographs, ceramics and aims to convey the awe felt by the artists for majestic animals facing great environmental pressures. (Image: Endangered Mask by Carol Barrett)