European canals the inspiration for Jolomo’s new exhibition

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A best-selling Argyll artist has unveiled a new exhibition in Lochgilphead, which includes his first paintings of Holland.

Tayvallich-based John Lowrie Morrison, known as Jolomo and famous for his West of Scotland landscapes in high-key colour, has included paintings of Holland and Venice in the exhibition, Canalscapes, at the Archway Gallery.

While John has been involved in online exhibitions thoughout lockdown, this is his first gallery show since the pandemic began and a few differences were noticed by attendees who missed the formal opening and were still trying to get used to wearing a mask.

Viewers of the striking images commented on the vivid colours, accurate likeness to places and even the ability to ‘dream of being elsewhere’ while appreciating the artwork.

A percentage of the artist’s profits will be donated to The Dove Centre at Oban Hospice.

The Dove Centre on Stevenson Street, Oban, offers emotional, spiritual and practical help to people living with cancer and other life-changing illnesses. Throughout lockdown it has continued to provide vital support and services to around 50 people a week.

David Entwistle, chairman of Oban Hospice Limited, said: ‘I am delighted John has decided to support us. All of our funding comes from donations so this really is incredible.’

John explained the inspiration behind the exhibition: ‘I did a lot of drawing of Holland on trips made over the years but I’d never painted it. The landscapes there made a huge impression on me. The sunrises and sunsets are amazing because the land is so flat.

‘I love canals, so I decided to make that the theme and bring in paintings based on drawings I had done in Holland and Venice and around the Crinan Canal.’

John and his wife Maureen first visited Venice a few years ago for a special wedding anniversary and he has been painting the city since.

He said: ‘Everyone said ‘Oh so you’ll be painting in Venice then?’ and I said ‘No, everybody and their Granny paints Venice and I’ll not be painting it’. Got off the Orient Express, walking down the platform to the Grand Canal and then just looked across the water, thought ‘oh my goodness!’ and got the sketchbook out. Hundreds of drawings, 2,500 photographs – I just couldn’t believe it. I still love it and I still want to paint it.

‘These paintings are paintings of memories. I have a photographic memory and can always recall a sunset or particular kind of light. Often I am painting things I remember from years and years back, like the lily pond by the Crinan Canal which is gone now, but I still miss it.

‘Holland blew me away when I first saw it and Venice did too. I’ve been in Argyll for 50 years and it blew me away too when I first came here in the 1960s. This is what this exhibition is about – my feelings for all three places.’

Canalscapes: Holland, Scotland, Venezia is at the Archway Gallery, Lochgilphead, until August 29.