Times Educational Supplement Review of 15.06.73 of the Exhibition at the Douglas & Foulis Gallery, Edinburgh


There is a certain competent moderation about the 44 decorative watercolours displayed until June 23rd in the Douglas and Foulis Gallery, Castle Street, Edinburgh, by Robert Scott Irvine, who retired recently as head art master at George Watson's College.

None is unduly large, or tiny, the technique is restrained, and the pleasing colours are gentle and subtle rather than startling. The subjects are almost all landscapes, many local and recognizable as in the attractive “Newington House” in its twilight blues, greens, greys and violet, or “Church and Manse, Temple”, which might serve as illustraitor for a sober fairytale. Here are no splashy impromptu sketches, but for the most part disciplined, precisely outlined patterns. well composed. In “Harvestfield, Loch Lomonside” the sunlight casts the stooks' lilac shadows on to the shaven fields, echoed in the further hills; in “Tunnel Backwater” the mood is darker and more secretive, and the ornamental quality of the shapes is emphasised, as’ also in “Glencourse Woods”. Notable for its very paleness is the “Sketch on the Almond“, misty yet precise and by no means insipid.

A few of the paintings are of distant sports. In “Mosque in the Rif” the white building, and the dusty white road, stand clearly outlined against a greenish sky and tan background, the sharp prongs of an agave in front. “Twin Monkey-Puzzles”, although not definitely placed, seems to me to stem from the same district; snow lies on the ground, but the up-curling fronds of the tufted araucarias appear to pretend to be palms.

Somewhat out with these categories are the symphony in greens, “Palm House” (in a botanical garden), and a relic of the war years in which a big red cross plays a prominent part, “Atlantic 44”.

Sheila Richardson