All works available for sale.
Ron Sandford at 82 is a much loved figure among his Shetland neighbours in Yell, art students from the Royal College to Hong Kong, and collectors of fine drawings world-wide. His exhibition of newly-completed drawings and prints opens at Vaila Fine Art on Saturday 1st December at 6 pm.
Ron draws every day. In fact, the phrase: ďNot a day without a lineĒ might have been coined for him. The subjects range from still life to landscape to portrait, the medium is mixed: pencil, pen, ink, watercolour wash, on paper, frequently glued onto a board for the ease of handling in the studio. By his own admission: ďI donít get around muchĒ, there is now a part of Yell which is truly enviably well represented in fine art. There are views of his kitchen table, from his windows, of his garden, over the seats of the bus he takes, from the bar chair during a jazz festival, of vegetation, fish and people. The drawings are worked on, on and off, for a long time. Even when they include colour washes, they are still described as drawings. The exhibition includes work began in China and France decades ago. There is also a whole batch of artist proof prints, some created with a lesser known method of combining etching and linocut, sometimes referred to as linogravure or lino-intaglio. The prints are not editioned, they are all individual artist proofs.
The quality of Ronís drawing is not unlike his signature whistling; initially a familiar tune, but played by a freshly-formed group of jazz musicians, rehearsing on a day off - it takes your mind away from immediate reality, but also making you appreciate commonplace objects in an entirely new way. Ronís flax plant looks like an embodiment of defiance, aloe vera appears predatory, a polytunnel seems like a wimp struggling in a gale. The Last of the Rose is a tribute to a fine, obsolete flitting boat. Mousa Broch has never been depicted with such an atmospheric aura of history, mystery and artistry. Every image carries a story, but you donít really need interpretive words, just a proper, slow look at the drawings. Ronís cross-hatching baffles even professional artists.
When Ron Sandford was an art student at Glasgow School of Art, the decorative or ornamental elements were discouraged, deemed to be the domain of mere Sunday watercolourists, those keen amateurs of pre-selfie generations, who lick brushes and squint a lot at obvious beauty spots. Since his retirement in the early 2000s, the shackles of previous institutional career have been abandoned. Now we see the artist doing his own work, unfettered by old constraints. Every piece of old rope and wild flower takes its rightful place in the foreground of every frame, making us see the selected microcosm more richly.
The work on show has been selected with local collectors in mind - most drawings and prints are on domestic scale, and framed without demanding extra space for mounts, but still satisfying the conservation criteria. FrameIt has done a perfect job, despite the considerable challenges of submitted material.
The exhibition continues until the Up Helly Aa. All the work is for sale. Gallery is open on days with T: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays 11 am - 5 pm weather-permitting, and other times by appointment.