The Hunterian Friends recently contributed to the acquisition of three paintings by artist Jane Gardiner. A practising GP and graduate of the University of Glasgow School of Medicine, Gardiner temporarily put her award-winning portraiture to one side in order to capture The Hunterian interiors. Friends Assistant Eleanor Capaldi spoke to her to find out more.
What drew you to painting The Hunterian?
Growing up in Ayrshire with Glasgow relatives meant that the Hunterian was a place I visited as a child - I think every child in a 30 mile radius must have done a school trip there! So it was somewhere I already had some fond memories of when I started Uni. Medical School can be fairly intense, and the galleries (including the sculpture garden and the zoology museum) were somewhere I could escape to. After Uni I more or less stayed in the west end, and the Hunterian is now a ten minute walk from my flat. When it became obvious that my 100 paintings in 100 days project was all going to be based on museums, and that I needed new resource material, The Hunterian was the first on my list - and the first art gallery I painted.
Having studied medicine, have you been tempted to capture the medical collections here?
I have taken reference photographs in The Anatomy Museum, particularly the little winding stairs in the corner. It has been interesting to compare the approach to anatomy between medicine, and art, as they are completely different.
Why did you choose the particular objects in your Hunterian paintings?
The whole series was experimental, done initially as a way for me to think more about colour/composition/mark making etc. I found the colour of the walls in the Hunterian Art Gallery lovely, and in comparison with gold picture frames and the pink chairs, lent themselves to this approach. I was also interested in really looking at the structure of the gallery - the walls, the chairs, the floors, all the bits that exist so people can see the paintings, and that people (including me, previously) normally ignore but add such an individual flavour to different spaces.
Which qualities do you try to capture in your portraiture?
When people model for me, they are given a choice of props, some bought and some made - and some people bring their own. There is a real element of dress up, which is tremendous fun, and lets people relax, and show aspects of themselves that maybe they are shy about. To me, the surface is important in that it shows what's going on inside, and this is what I try to paint.
Which artists or artworks have inspired you?
So many have inspired me it is hard to choose! Some of the paintings in the Hunterian, for example, are old friends - the Chardins are awesome, and I find his life very inspiring. I've always loved the colourists’ beach paintings, although I'm not a landscapist, and there is a lot to love about Whistler. His group of work in the Hunterian is really useful to a practicing artist.
First published: 29 March 2017