Sea-ing is Believing

New work by Arbroath-based painter, Jackie Gardiner, unveiled at Becky Walker’s new Green Gallery 2 space in Dollar, Clackmananshire

The Jazz Piano by Jackie Gardiner

YOU can smell the salt air in a Jackie Gardiner painting.

She lives by the sea in the fishing port of Arbroath on Scotland’s craggy north east coat and almost by osmosis, absorbs the power of the crashing waves which are a constant in this part of the world.

Like Joan Eardley, who drew endless inspiration from the day-to-day life of the cliff-top village of Catterline some 30 miles up the coast, Gardiner stirs her very fibre into her paintings.

Whether it’s a moonlit night with an inky blue sky presiding over a tumultuous sea or a set of crimson coloured-boats sitting on a shoreline, Gardiner brings a loose, almost jazz-like riff to the party when she sets out to convey her world.

Unsurprisingly, music plays a major role in her life and in a day’s work. She’s a huge fan of Nordic jazz, with Edinburgh-based guitarist, Haftor Medbøe, described as someone who can ‘sculpt aquatic soundscapes’, being a particular favourite. She also turns to the music of Esbjörn Svensson for inspiration. Both musicians ‘never fail to deliver’, she says.

The top student in a cohort which graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in nearby Dundee in 1980, Gardiner says her approach to making art has always been freeform.

“The first time I got my hands really dirty, I was about four years old. I created a lovely mural on my mum’s wall with home made raspberry jam! Not content with that, I decided it would be improved by chucking a pan of fireplace ashes all over it!”

After graduating, Gardiner studied for a further year in conjunction with Dundee University before working in design and advertising for five years but for over 30 years, she has devoted herself to making art and works from her studio near Arbroath.

She travels extensively with her partner, Allan Paris, whom she describes as ‘a beautiful painter and the person who has influenced me most.’

In the last three decades, the couple have visited many European cities; visiting galleries and driving in the work of masters up close.

Gardiner explains: “We’ve seen Basquiat in Paris, Picasso in Malaga and Barcelona, Botticelli in Florence, Bruegel and Schiele in Vienna this year: the list is long.

“We have seen the work of all the big hitters, but many smaller and more intimate exhibitions have left their mark too. Particularly printmaking works in Kraków and Gdańsk.

“We’ve now visited the Venice Biennale four times and we are slowly getting to know this unique water-city. Seeing one of my own paintings at a private exhibition there was a spine-tingling moment.

“It was fantastic after all these years of hard — and occasionally lonely — graft to be invited to exhibit among an international group of artists.

“It’s always exciting to see new works which fire up the imagination. My most recent books to get lost in feature the works of Russian-born abstract painter Nicolas de Staël and and the American artist Richard Diebenkorn.”

The journey never ends for Jackie Gardiner. Dive into one of her paintings and feel the force.

Shore Leave by Jackie Gardiner

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