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Artistic talents add their own perspective to everyday views; A new eclectic display featuring the work of a number of artists is about to go on show at one Welsh gallery. Jenny White enjoys a preview.

Byline: Jenny White

WITH a string of awards and accolades that belie her age, Scottish painter Mhairi McGregor is well placed to make an impact when her latest work goes on show.

The 36-year-old's crisp, expressive style seemingly reduces familiar scenes (typically still-lifes or coastal views) to just a few brushstrokes. Her tendency towards abstraction is matched by great compositional flair, most clearly demonstrated in her latest beach paintings.

Despite their apparent simplicity these works are deeply evocative and informative, with an overwhelm sense of place. This is testament to McGregor's way of working.

"The main direction of my work is to sketch from life and develop those initial paintings into more abstract works," she explains.

"I never want to lose sight completely of what it was that inspired me to paint a particular scene. I love colour, especially layers of colour on top of one another, which gives both a depth of paint and sometimes a glimpse of what was there before."

Exhibiting alongsideMcGregor at Cardiff's Albany Gallery later this month is fellows cottish painter Caroline Bailey, whose paintings are distinguished by a deliciously vibrant use of colour.

Her subject matter is similar to McGregor's but the resulting still-lifes and harbour views are different in mood and appearance.

"I am inspired by the relationship between sea and land and the boats, harbours and beaches that are found where they meet," she says.

She approaches still-life painting in a similar spirit, stating, "still-life allows me to explore the colour, texture and division of space that are the fundamentals of my work."

Pursuing very different subject matter, but with an equally vivid palette, is Monmouthshire-based Claire Griffiths, whose latest body of work is a series of pastel drawings of dancers. Filled withmovement and glamour, the linear style of these works reflects Griffiths's background in drawing and printmaking.

She gained a degree in printmaking from the University of Wales, Cardiff, and now works in everything from etchings and aquatint to oil paints.

Pastels are also the preferred medium of Aled Prichard Jones, a well-established landscape artist whose ongoing love affair with the landscape of Wales has recently brought him back home after two years living in the north-east of England.

Explaining his loveof pastels he says, "They are so quick to use and, with so many brilliant colours, they are ideal for trying to catch the fleeting effect of light and the ever-changing mood and atmosphere of the rugged Eryri Mountain landscapes."

His paintings include familiar views of the Snowdonia peaks and coastline, wooded valleys and mountain lakes, as well as remote mountain summits. Born in Bangor, he grew up in Snowdonia before training as an architect at Bath University. He went on to live for many years in Pembrokeshire before retiring in 2000 in order to concentrate on painting. It seemed natural to turn to North Wales for his subjectmatter. As he puts it, these are the landscapes he has "walkedandlovedsince childhood".

While Pritchard-Jones cannot resist the scenery of North Wales, the fifth artist in the exhibition, American Matthew Lopas, is fascinated by his more immediate surroundings. For more than a decade his subject matter has been his living environment.

"These places have attained a mythic quality for me," he says. "I originally painted interiors that were memories of the house I grew up in. In representing those large, fire-lit rooms, I recreated my original world."

His present work is a series of paintings of his current home. His aim is to share his life, his "experience of being human", in a straight forward way, and his painting style reflects this intent.

Opposites - such as inside and outside, light and shadow - are repeated in paintings that are tranquil, but whose absence of human figures lends them an unnerving eeriness.

The exhibition runs at the Albany Gallery, Cardiff, from February 15 to March 8


IN STEP Claire Griffiths's dancers reflect her work which is filled with movement and glamour; CREATIVE Above, Mhairi McGregor's Tulips and, below, a work by Caroline Bailey; VIEW Aled Prichard Jones's Afon Ogwen, Tryfan
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 4, 2008
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