Tales from the North: Contemporary Painting from the Glasgow School.

31 May 2024 – 15 Jun 2024

Regular hours

10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 16:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

Free admission

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67 York Street Gallery

England, United Kingdom


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An exhibition featuring recent works by two of the UK’s most dynamic painters, Elaine Woo MacGregor and Alastair Gordon.

We cordially invite you to attend our Finissage on Saturday 15 June 2024, from 1-5 pm, at Gallery 67, York Street.


Cynthia Corbett Gallery proudly presents an exhibition of recent works by two of the UK’s most exciting painters, Alastair Gordon and Elaine Woo MacGregor. The exhibition will take place in the year of the Gallery’s 20th anniversary, two decades on from one of the Gallery’s first exhibitions ‘Young, Female, and Scottish’ which also featured work by Woo MacGregor.

This exhibition will feature recent and new works by both artists, exploring the intersection of painting and narrative, both personal and deeply immersed in the context of art history. Both Gordon and Woo MacGregor hail from Scotland, and trained at the prestigious Glasgow School of Art.

The exhibition includes a series of Alastair Gordon’s extraordinary, meticulous illusionistic paintings that explore the possibilities of ‘quodlibet’, a form of trompe l’oeil that proliferated in 17th Century Northern Europe. Quodlibet (a Latin word meaning ‘whatever you please’), usually includes a board with objects and implements that speak to the artist’s own surroundings and life.

Gordon’s works hold precision and expression in an exquisite tension. Similarly, the academic and historical possibilities of the Quodlibet genre dance with the expansiveness of the Scottish landscape and its deep Celtic history. Gordon’s works are as much about painting as depicting the landscape itself; a commitment to observational painting, made in sight of the subject.

Gordon’s painting begins in the studio, where he paints the illusion of masking tape, wood and paper. From here, the prepared canvas is taken out to the landscape where Gordon paints from observation. Some of the works for this show were painted in Gordon’s native Scotland on the Isles of Lewis and Harris. Others were painted more locally to his London studio: Wimbledon and Tooting Common, heralding a new season of paintings about the common grounds of London; pockets of tamed wilderness in the city.

Elaine Woo MacGregor’s work is similarly engaged with the processes of making, and the narrative and imaginative possibilities of painting. Combining mark making and imagery, she weaves together atmospheric and theatrical stories. Brushstrokes and areas of colour have a free-flowing placement interjected with deliberate acts of drawing and mark making. The flow and repercussion of movements with the brush in the stages before plays a pivotal role over the outcome of the work. Expressive layers of paint are revealed with a feeling of excavation, and hidden subversion of expectations.

The subjects of her paintings are drawn from popular and high culture; the life of Audrey Hepburn, Matisse drawing his muse, Peggy Guggenheim in her prime. Black and white stills are reinjected with colour, drenching the past in new colours. The work also embodies a cultural fusion of east and west, painted from her perspective as a Scottish artist brought up by traditional Chinese parents who moved to the U.K in the late 70s from Hong Kong.

Together, Alastair Gordon and Elaine Woo MacGregor’s work offers an exciting view of contemporary painting today. Painting that is very much about the process of painting, mark making, colour and technique; viewed through the lens of art history, and the poetics of identity and where we come from.

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