Coburg House Exhibition

I have just taken down my recent solo show of paintings. It hasn’t made me rich but I have been more fortunate than I might have expected. Artists, these days, often say that they are painting only for themselves. This can be a statement of integrity, suggesting that they are not selling out to easy commercial options. Yet there is nothing like finding that other people appreciate the works that you have tried to make worthy of repeated viewings, and are willing to pay reasonable sums for the privilege. Coburg House Art Studios and Gallery, where I held my exhibition, is a particularly artist-friendly place, administered sympathetically by John Gibson, an engineer who has gradually developed the building floor by floor. His current project concerns the recently vacated top storey where extra studios are under construction and a roof garden envisaged. Around seventy artists and crafts people work here. The façade of the complex has something of the look of a small art deco cinema but is, in fact, a former industrial building. The non-profit making gallery opens off the street and is on two levels. It is formed from a loading bay where lorries would have backed in with their platforms abutting on the upper part for easy transference of goods. The space is simply styled with exposed girder frame and brickwork to dado level in the first section. It makes an elegant exhibition space without a hint of tweeness. I found it well suited to my work, consisting of canvases of various sizes. My largest piece (125 x 130cm) was comfortably hung with some companions in the lower section, which could, if need be, accommodate much larger work. The bulk of my show was of paintings with one dimension approximately a metre and these fitted well into the upper gallery, while an aisle on the same level running back above one side of the lower part, was ideal for small pieces. When I had my first solo show of paintings and sculpture in Edinburgh, an art critic wrote that ‘Robert Crozier grips your lapels and stands on your toes the moment you open the door of the New 57 Gallery.’ It was a very crowded show. Today, a young artist could display a significant collection of his or her works with much more breathing space at Coburg House.
But back in 1970 you did get reviewed. Now, outside the large public venues you have little hope. Critics in the main news sheets only write about sensation and celebrity, even when they disapprove of them. However, if not exactly on the way out, newspapers are becoming much less important. I believe artists should set up their own cyberspace site and review each others’ work. Perhaps, the artist community at Coburg House Studios could join with others and undertake that project for Edinburgh.