Friday, October 23, 2015

Gallery Social: 'Arthur Melville: Adventures in Colour'

23 October 2015

On Friday morning I was at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh for the dementia-friendly Gallery Social event, part of the Luminate Festival. This was a relaxed and informal guided tour of the 'Arthur Melville: Adventures in Colour' exhibition for anyone affected by dementia, their friends, relatives and supporters. 16 of us gathered in the Clore Education Centre for tea and cake, followed by a chance to try some of the watercolour techniques that the Scottish artist Arthur Melville (1855 – 1904) pioneered. It was fascinating to see the effects that you can create by wetting the paper with a sponge and then adding drops of watercolour paint which spread beautifully through the water. I was quite pleased with my painting but, while the rest of us were producing pretty, abstract shapes, one member of our group had finished a stunning copy of the Arthur Melville painting being used on the poster for the exhibition. Practical participation is a regular feature of the National Galleries Scotland 'Gallery Social' events, and the understanding of technique and medium that you get, even from a short practical session, makes you appreciate the paintings in the exhibition from a much more informed perspective. Our tour of the Arthur Melville exhibition offered fascinating insights into the artist's life, technical skills and subject matter. You always get so much more from looking a painting when an expert points out key features or context to you. The Gallery Social is aimed at carers as much as at those suffering from dementia and our guides never talked down to their audience, providing an enthusiastic, informed, amusing and intellectual commentary on Arthur Melville and his works. I learned a great deal about watercolours and this fascinating artist.

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