Sunday, October 02, 2022

Faster than fairies

Last week we took the train over the bridge to Kirkcaldy (pronounced Kir-coddy) to see the Jack Vettriano exhibition at the art gallery there. I don't know if Vettriano is famous abroad, or even in England, but he's quite famous in Scotland, being from Kirkcaldy. He's self-taught, and the art establishment tends to look down on him (one gathers) - maybe because of that but also because it doesn't consider his paintings as having artistic merit. Also, the subjects are a little bit sinister sometimes, and very much suggest a rather shady story behind the pictures. He always paints from photos, never from life, and sells his paintings for lots of money. Anyway, it was very interesting. 

He taught himself to paint by copying postcards and also prints from auction catalogues. Above is the real Monet; below is his version. 

Sometimes he changed them a bit. 

After a while he developed his own style and sold two paintings at the Summer Exhibition, after which he applied to Edinburgh Art College and was rejected because his "portfolio does not meet the standard". So he just went on painting. 

This is a very famous one of his - "The Singing Butler" - though it's not clear to me that the butler actually is singing. A lot of his paintings are of people in formal clothes - though sometimes he paints women who're more scantily clothed.

This one is "A Date with Fate". 

This one is "Live Art Show". 

I wouldn't actually want any of his paintings on my walls - they make me feel uneasy - but they seem good to me. Though what would I know? 

There was a little film about him, in which he says that for him, narrative is essential in painting. You can definitely see that in his work.

And then we had a little walk around Kirkcaldy, past this old milestone, saying that Dysart is 2 and three-eights miles from there. Very precise! My great-great-grandparents lived in Dysart, and their son, my great-grandfather, was apprenticed to a house-painter in Kirkcaldy. We have Great-Grandpa's indentures from 1869. Sadly, he died at 40, but not before fathering 8 children, 7 of whom survived him. I can't imagine how his widow managed. 

Then we walked down George Street, where Mr L lived for a while as a boy. 

And yesterday we were back across the bridge, this time by car, to visit Son and family. 

Which was lovely. The children are adorable; I wish we saw more of them but... it is what it is - as people tend to say these days. 


And so the days rush relentlessly on. 


  1. I like his paintings although, like you, I prefer something more calming on my walls. Pretty watercolors are more my style of decorating. I'm glad you got to spend time with your son's children! Now that Niko is close, I don't know how I stood being so far away from him. I missed out on a lot. (but I can't focus on that!)

  2. I have seen his The Singing Butler online, that would be great to see it in person plus his other paintings. That bridge you drove over is rather like an attractive modern sculpture.

  3. Your trip to the art gallery sounds wonderful -- I love Jack Vettriano. I don't feel creeped out by him at all, and we even have a copy of one of his paintings in our house -- it's just a man and woman in formal attire in each other's arms -- dancing, I think. I would have loved walking around Kircaldy too -- my something-great (3rd maybe?) grandparents lived there. Do you think our relatives knew each other? Maybe our meeting was meant to be!

  4. I did wonder what Jack's narrative was in the painting of the milestone - until I scrolled down a bit.

  5. It is interesting to see the artists' journey towards their own style. And, it makes all the difference. Hugs, Raquel