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Kirsty Matheson’s Talk & Exhibition for Celtic Connections: Glasgow Music Walking Tours Guest Blog

We can’t wait to get along to Kirsty Matheson’s new exhibition currently running at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall as part of Celtic Connections 2022. We’re delighted to highlight Kirsty’s fascinating work, don’t miss her talking about it on January 30th, details below…

‘I want you to see what I hear’

Kirsty Matheson will be giving a talk about her work and how she transforms what she hears into paint at the Glasgow Concert Hall, City of Music Studio on January 30th at 2.30pm. You can see the Grit paintings exhibited at the Glasgow Concert Hall from January 20th to February 6th. Bring your headphones!

Kirsty Matheson is an abstract painter who lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland. As a classically trained musician, she hears the many layers of emotions contained in a piece of music and transmits the style, movement, rhythm, and dynamism into an abstract piece of art. BBC Radio 3’s Tom Service describes Kirsty as an “artistic polymath” who creates a “jaw-dropping kaleidoscope of images”.

In February 2021, Kirsty set herself the challenge to create 100 paintings about 100 pieces of music in 100 days. The 100 Days of Music as Art Project captivated people on Twitter and Instagram and all one hundred paintings sold by the final day of the project.

Kirsty is currently exhibiting a series of paintings in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall as part of Celtic Connections. The paintings are inspired by GRIT, the last studio album of the late Scottish-Canadian, Martyn Bennett. The album was an homage to the raw energy of travelling folk song and Gaelic singing. Kirsty is a member of the Grit Orchestra which was inaugurated by violinist, composer and conductor Greg Lawson to continue the legacy of Bennett’s music by arranging it for a unique orchestra of jazz, classical and traditional musicians. The orchestra opened Celtic Connections 2015 at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to rapturous applause and critical acclaim.

a person standing posing for the camera

When deciding what music to paint for Celtic Connections this transformative concert was the perfect fit for Kirsty. As a musician she finds that painting music she has performed gives an added kinetic connection and dimension to her work. Instilled in this music are the stories behind the songs and spoken words; the story of Bennett’s life; the story of Scottish culture and its place in the modern world are all woven throughout this album and consequentially these paintings.

Move literally moves across the canvas and ends uprooting in physical space just as the music stops suddenly echoing the farmer’s demand for the travellers to “move” and “shift”. Chanter presents the challenge of making art out of a cell of three notes on the bagpipes.  Blackbird blends the metaphysical and spiritual with the power of pure movement of paint to capture the incredible voice of Lizzie Higgins opening the track with the words “What a voice!”

a fountain of water

Blackbird: 30 x 48 inches, acrylic on canvas

None of these images are comfortable, just like Bennett’s music. Nae Regrets has the child-like graffiti in bright bold colours juxtaposed with the dark reality of tenements for those children forced to “bide” with an abusive granny. Ale House is spikey and layered as there must beg a question to the statement “The Bonnie wee Lassie that never said no” – why not? And then there is the track Why captured in paint as a landscape that shifts between the highlands and battlefields of the Somme or Culloden moor with the word imprinted on the canvas shouting in silence at the waste of all those dead generations of young Scottish men.

a close up of a persons face

Rant: 48×60 inches, acrylic on canvas

The exhibition ends as the concert did, with a single of Bennett’s which was not on GRIT, Paisley Spin. Greg Lawson took it further with the GRIT orchestra, extending the end, a sample from Gerry Rafferty’s ‘To Each and Everyone’, into a very long repeated fade, where it really did feel like everyone there was saying goodbye to Martyn Bennett and thanking him for the gift of his music. Kirsty has kept this painting positive with the threads representing all those people and the goodbye leading through a field of flowers towards the sun.