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Thurso artist incorporates Caithness Courier in a new painting at his one-man show


By David G Scott

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A Thurso artist has a solo show of paintings at an exhibition in the North Coast Visitor Centre (NCVC) and incorporates a copy of the Caithness Courier in one striking triptych.

The show of work by Willie Wallace opened on November 2 and is the first exhibition displayed at the new gallery since reopening.

Willie was brought up on the Western Isles and graduated with BA (Hons) in Fine Art, Drawing and Painting from Gray’s School of Art in 1990. He was tutored under William Connon, Sandy Fraser and Joyce W Cairns and during his art college years was influenced by the works of Willie Gillies, William Littlejohn, the Scottish Colourists and Cubism.

William Wallace's painting Aspects of Caithness triptych, oil on board. He incorporates a copy of the Caithness Courier in the central panel.
William Wallace's painting Aspects of Caithness triptych, oil on board. He incorporates a copy of the Caithness Courier in the central panel.

He has been teaching art since 1991 and in the last few years, decided to work part-time to enable him to spend longer periods creating his own work.

"I was delighted to be asked if I would like to be the first artist to have an exhibition in the newly refurbished North Coast Visitor Centre," said Willie. "I have tried to incorporate a number of different approaches that I use in my work. I like working in a variety of media including using found objects, plaster, card, resins and inks, but my first love is painting in oils."

Ronnie O Sullivan OBE The Next Chapter.
Ronnie O Sullivan OBE The Next Chapter.

Willie recently painted a number of large figurative oil paintings: The Next Chapter shows the many different sides of professional snooker player Ronnie O Sullivan; Halloween in the Japanese Garden combines traditional Japanese costumes, with their elegant flowing lines often full of symbolism, in contrast to Western costumes used at Halloween; and Life’s Journeys contains a number of personal items, along with images of flight and travel, of men returning from the First World War. His own family are depicted in the centre of the latter, but in Edwardian clothes.

Willie adds: "Each of these paintings uses both narrative and symbolism. This is also true in my historical commemorative painting of the 1919 Iolaire disaster (8ft x 4ft), currently on loan and displayed in Lews Castle, Stornoway. This then resulted in a number of other war-themed works that are featured in this exhibition.

The Going Down of the Sun by William Wallace is an oil painting on board and priced at £275.
The Going Down of the Sun by William Wallace is an oil painting on board and priced at £275.

"My still life paintings often have different viewpoints, with some objects placed in a way that they can be seen as both in front and behind the object next to them, thus enabling the viewer to choose how they want to interpret the picture. The Japanese art of origami paper birds feature a lot in my still life work, often transforming into more realistic birds.

"Landscapes tend to be painted more directly from life, outdoors. I have also included some more abstract work which uses purely shape, texture and colour, these three visual elements are repeated heavily in all my work."

Moon Shadow is a mixed media relief on board priced at £235.
Moon Shadow is a mixed media relief on board priced at £235.

Willie says that he has recently been evolving his creative output with more ideas and a variety of themes rather than restricting himself to one type of art.

High Life Highland (which runs NCVC) exhibitions officer Cathy Shankland said: “The exhibition is well worth a visit and is a great place to spend some time with your Christmas visitors or to take time out from the Christmas shopping – and don’t forget to drop in at the NCVC shop and café while you are there.”

The show ends on January 8, 2022 and is free. The gallery is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12 to 4pm. Fridays and Saturdays from 11 to 4pm.

NCVC is situated on High St in Thurso and was formerly Caithness Horizons.

Related article:

PICTURES: New North Coast Visitor Centre in Thurso gears up for opening day


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