Edinburgh’s Ingleby Gallery is celebrating 20 years since it first opened its doors to the public by moving from Florence and Richard Ingleby’s Calton Terrace town house to take up residence in the old Glasite Meeting House at 33 Barony Street.
In this newly refurbished premises, painted assorted shades of battleship grey, the Inglebys are marking the occasion with a solo presentation of Callum Innes’ large-scale ‘Exposed Paintings’ in the main gallery space.
Scattered throughout adjoining offices and in the tastefully sparse dining room upstairs, prints and small objects by many of the artists the gallery has worked with in the last 20 years are displayed above the heads of the gallery staff, who busily receive calls and measure up framed works for potential buyers.
Richard Ingleby explains that as well as being “an opportunity to see works by all our artists,” the opening of this group show titled ‘Twenty’ is “very much an open house so people can explore the building”.
The move comes nearly two years since the Inglebys closed their impressive two-storey gallery on Calton Street, which they’d occupied since 2008. At the time of its closure they reasoned that “ownership of such a large gallery space in central Edinburgh is not the most appropriate use of the gallery’s resources”.
The gallery’s new home was built in 1834 and, although never consecreted, was used as a place of worship by the Glasites, a small religious sect who had broken with the Church of Scotland. Modesty and simplicity were favoured by the Glasites in their design for the building, which appears unassuming and square from the street.
Set into the ceiling of the main hall, a stained glass octagonal cupola filters a bright patch of sunlight into the room, hitting the back wall precisely at midday. In their renovation of this grade A listed building – carried out by Helen Lucas Architects working alongside the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust – the Inglebys have kept as many features as possible, noting that “the great thing about this building is that it feels quintessentially of this place”.
Some original features had to make way for contemporary art; the narrow wooden pews have been removed leaving a bright and open space filled with the smell of freshly laid parquet floor. Named colloquially as the ‘Kale Kirk’ since kale was a main ingredient of the soup served during their all-day sermons, the Glasites held their last service here in 1989. Their souls, however, may be looking down with disapproval at the Bloody Marys served at the opening.
Innes’ canvases ‘exploring the possibilities offered by the colour blue’ are a restrained and stately addition to the space with their rigorously applied, then equally rigorously washed out blue pigment.
Though Innes has worked with Ingleby for 20 years, the gallery also represents a small number of artists at an earlier stage of their careers, supporting them to make new work with production costs recouped in sales. Jonny Lyons at 29 is their youngest artist, while others such as Kevin Harman and Katie Paterson fall within a decade of him.
According to Florence Ingleby, opening their first galley space back in 1998 helped to address the lack of commercial galleries in Scotland. For her, running a private gallery provides freedom that may not be available in publicly-funded organisations: “We show who we like and there is a feeling of being extremely accountable to your artists. Collectors are the means by which we support artists, that’s the ecology within which we work.”
Richard adds: “Any gallery is only as good as the artists they work with. The reason why we do these things is to make good shows with great artists.”
‘Callum Innes: Byzantine Blue, Delft Blue, Paris Blue’ and ‘Twenty’ continue at Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh until 14 July 2018. www.inglebygallery.com
1. Callum Innes, Oriental Blue, 2018, oil on linen, 235 x 230cm, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh. Photo: Tom Nolan; Courtesy: Callum Innes and Ingleby Gallery
2. Callum Innes, from left to right: Oriental Blue, 2018, oil on linen, 235 x 230cm; Paris Blue, 2018, oil on linen, 235 x 230cm, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh. Photo: Tom Nolan; Courtesy: Callum Innes and Ingleby Gallery
3. Callum Innes, from left to right, Delft Blue, 2018, oil on linen, 235 x 230cm; Oriental Blue, 2018, oil on linen, 235 x 230cm, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh. Photo: Tom Nolan; Courtesy: Callum Innes and Ingleby Gallery
4. Callum Innes, from left to right, Delft Blue, 2018, oil on linen, 235 x 230cm Oriental Blue, 2018, oil on linen, 235 x 230cm, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh. Photo: Tom Nolan; Courtesy: Callum Innes and Ingleby Gallery
5. Installation view of ‘Twenty’, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh. Courtesy: Ingleby Gallery
Jessica Ramm is a Glasgow-based artist and one of eight a-n members selected for the a-n Writer Development Programme 2017-18. For more information on the writer programme, and to read more of the latest cohort’s work, visit the 2017-18 programme’s blog on a-n.co.uk or use the a-n writer development programme 2017-18 tag