Some brand new Margaretann Bennett paintings arrived hot off the press into the gallery yesterday. The first one has already been snapped up but there are still four available, so if you would like to own a piece from this award winning Scottish artist you had better move fast!
A graduate of Glasgow School of Art in 1991, Margaretann has gone on to show all over the UK, including the RSA annual exhibitions and is a regular exhibitor with scotlardart.com.
Margaretann was also recently featured on the front cover of the Scotland on Sunday's Home supplement.
There’s a ‘curiouser and curiouser’ quality to Margaretann Bennett’s top floor apartment on the south side of Glasgow, as the artist is an avid collector of precious curiosities which often make an appearance in her paintings
“Alice is a timeless character that people can relate to through the generations,” explains Margaretann. “I think of her as an independent girl from a modern day sub-culture who thinks outside the box and is not afraid to speak her mind.”
As a child growing up in Bothwell, Margaretann’s adventures took place in her drawings where she constantly created her own fantasy world. Her parents had met at the Glasgow School of Art, where their talented daughter went on to study in the late 1980s.
Margaretann has won many awards, including the Armour Award and the Inverarity One to One Travel Award, both from the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts. Her paintings are held in the public collections of St Andrews Hospital, Fife and Princess Margaret Rose Hospital, Edinburgh.
For the past 10 years, Margaretann has worked from her home studio in the two-bedroom flat she shares with her partner Richard Davies, who is also an artist.
Margaretann describes the flat as an eleventh hour buy, as she had been living in a town house divided into small flats which was almost like and artists’ collective.
“I decided to buy my own place when the opportunity of a small mortgage came along,” she recalls. “I only had sketchy details of this flat to go on, not even a picture, but it sounded like it would fit the bill. I viewed it on Wednesday and had to submit an offer two days later, so I had a couple of sleepless nights as there were a few people after it.
“When I moved in, there was only one bedroom, a living room and huge kitchen with a recess and large cupboard in middle. As I needed an extra space to for my studio, we knocked down the walls in the kitchen and turned it into a bedroom, and created a much smaller but well-appointed kitchen which freed up the original bedroom to become a studio.
“It took months as we also replaced the windows and put down oak flooring, as well as scraping away layers of woodchip paper from the 12ft high ceilings which involved a balancing act with a platform on a trestle table. By the end of the project, we trusted no one but ourselves to finish the work.”
While Margaretann admits that it took years to recover from the upheaval, she concedes that it was the worth the effort. The living room or Victorian parlour as Margaretann likes to call it, is a room where she can relax after a long day in her studio.
There’s room for a dining area, sofa and flat-screen TV, and a shabby chic French cabinet. As the room faces south-west, it’s warm in summer and benefits from the greenhouse effect in the winter. Come the evening, Margaretann likes to close the blinds to create the cosy psychological feeling of shutting the world out.
“One of the first things we did was to replace the little pine fireplace with plastic coal effect fire, with a white limestone surround and proper cast iron fireplace,” points out Margaretann. “We also customised the contemporary chandelier by adding clear and black crystal droplets which are actually Christmas decorations.
“We’ve painted the majority of rooms throughout the flat in Antique White, which provides a neutral backdrop for paintings and sculptures, but there’s not a lot of art work in here as it’s nice to come into a calm room after you’ve been working on something visual every day.”
One of Margaretann’s favourite pieces is a soft fabric sculpture by artist Paola McClure, which she describes as sitting in the corner like a winged goddess. Margaretann came across it while exhibiting at a gallery in Dundee. “When Paola walked in with it, I immediately thought, ‘I’ve got to have that’,” recalls Margaretann.
Another surreal touch is the spout of an old-fashioned teapot, a beachcombing find, which gives the impression that there is a teapot embedded in the wall. Displayed on the mantelpiece is Margaretann’s collection of bird skulls and wings which reflects her interest in ornithology.
“I love to sit on the big comfy chair next to the fire and look at books or marvel and be inspired by the many wonderful objects I have collected,” says the artist.
“Occasionally people come up to view work, and if we have friends round, this is where we will hang out.
“The hallway is an extension of the parlour as it houses my spooks cabinet which is full of apothecary bottles, feathers, an evil plush cat and teddy scares, to name but a few. They are a constant source of inspiration and I love re-arranging them. I think I would have made a good window dresser.”
Margaretann describes the kitchen as the one adult room in the house where everything is to hand. It is a compact space (8' x 10') with glossy black cabinetry from IKEA, oak work surfaces and polished granite floor tiles in white.
The studio, where Margaretann spends most of her days, has remained virtually untouched for the past 10 years, not that you would notice, as the majority of available space is covered with inspirational pieces or work in progress.
“It's a scraggy undecorated room with EAT PAINT grafittied on the semi-wood chip wall, but I know I couldn’t work in an artist studio set-up as I need solitude when I work, but I would like to make it more like a habitable room.”
As well as tangible objects and collectibles, Margaretann draws inspiration from her dreams. While the bedroom doubles as an office space and houses the computer, she insists on keeping part of it as a dedicated bedroom with ‘girly’ objects such as posh perfume bottles.
Most of the artist’s dreaming is done in the comfort of the cast iron bed. “Broadly speaking I'd say my inspiration comes from dreams and characters from friendships past, lost or still to come,” explains Margaretann. “In dreams, anything is possible.
“I often dream that I'm flying using my arms in a swimming motion to propel myself forward above the traffic and the buildings. In my dreams of Alice, she is more likely to be partying down in a crypt than down a rabbit hole.”
See more of Margaret’s works online at www.scotlandart.com
2 St Stephen Place Stockbridge Edinburgh EH3 5AJ Tel: 0131 225 6257.
The Windeater by Keri Hulme
A collection of short stories from the Booker Prize winning author of The Bone People. I often take this book with me when I'm travelling as there's always something in there to match my mood. These are beautifully written short stories dealing with themes of loneliness and isolation, some haunting tales, with each reading like the seed of a novel.
Brothers Quay - The Short Films
These surreal films are fascinating visual feasts, thought provoking and a wonderful source of inspiration with their dark, dream like quality.
Harris in the Outer Hebrides
For complete solitude, the wind in my hair and the sound of waves pounding on a desolated Atlantic beach. With many an old deserted croft visited, and feathers beach-combed, this place remains an ongoing influence in my work.
This London artist creates hauntingly beautiful sculptures from taxidermy animals in unexpected settings.
At the moment I'm enjoying listening to PJ Harvey's new album Let England Shake.
I've always followed her music and find comfort and inspiration in its themes of alienation and loneliness.
Way to relax
Sofa, blanket, feet up, cup of tea, chocolate, teddy bear and remote control!