Passing Places, an exhibition of work by west coast artists Andy Spink and Gill Houlsby, is currently showing at the Steadings Gallery, Balmacara, until 20th November.
Andy is an accomplished fine artist and mountain guide who rarely undertakes an adventure without a sketchbook. Gill is an art therapist who also works in the outdoors. They are particularly interested in how modern approaches to travel and tourism influence how places are perceived and the impact of this.
The theme Passing Places was born from the perception that ‘no one waves anymore’. Over the last decade or longer, Gill has become increasingly aware of a decline in the proportion of folk who wave when passing each other on single track roads.
She became fascinated by the range of acknowledgements drivers would show: a twitch of an index finger lifted from the steering wheel; a cool, unhurried display of someone’s palm lingering as they continued on their way, an energetic wave expressing more enthusiasm than seemed fitting, the subtle but unmistakable twitchy gesture of a nervous driver, or of course, the complete lack of any acknowledgement altogether.
The frustration of being ignored by some passing drivers led Gill to imagine what it would be like if passing place signs were printed with the text ‘wave and smile’.
Gill then began to wonder about the influence that small interactions like these have on how people experience a place and how people feel in a community.
Andy said he recognised how the Covid pandemic has forced a different way of responding to and being in the environment. The usual locations of work and leisure have gone and in turn new vantage points have been found. Andy’s work is deliberately painted from locations that he would have ordinarily passed by, offering a fresh perspective on the familiar.