From: 11th August
To: 26th August
Preview: 11th August 6pm – 8pm

An exhibition curated by Emma Drye of new work by:

Yolanda Mckean

Emma Drye

Michael Coombes


Work which concerns itself with what happens alongside, in the gaps between. A reflection on intimate urban and domestic space, corners of tenement gardens, edges of public parks, glimpses of quickly traversed streets.

Whilst these spaces can be considered as incidental and ‘between’ they can also provide a metaphor and opportunity to consider art practice itself as it is experienced by a diverse community. Art fits into people’s lives in a myriad of ways – often vulnerable but somehow resilient, like a weed in the cracks.

‘I find Yolanda’s work arresting. The use of paint is muscular and yet also dreamlike.  The palette could just as easily be from seventy years ago, giving the work a sense of operating differently to the normal rules of time and place. There is always an intimacy, and often a psychological darkness even in quite unassuming domestic moments. The framing is Hitchcockian at times – a sense that something important is just out of frame – waiting.

 I met Michael when I taught him as an undergraduate at the Open College of the Arts (OCA). I am proud to be a tutor for OCA which is a distance learning college and a registered charity. The college has a larger than average number of mature students who often feed fascinating and enriching prior careers into their studies. Mike trained in commercial design and lettering as an apprentice and worked all his life in the print industry from a time when everything had to be hand drawn. He had the most consummate draughtsmanship and visual understanding. His use of space and spatial relationships in his drawings was breathtaking. His drawings have stuck in my mind with their quiet dignity ever since and once I knew I wanted to exhibit with Yolanda – Mike’s work just seemed like a natural counterpoint.

 My own work is always partly about being an artist – how it feels, what I do all day and my relationship to my social environment. Being an artist involves a lot of what looks like not much – preserving the mental space to experience and make connections. My practice has been complicated and energised by doing a PhD but this threatens that flexibility and liminality. The work in this show is the output from my determined effort to protect that open endedness and non instrumentality’.

This exhibition has been conceived as a locus for support and discussion around sustaining an art practice on your own terms, as well as being a fantastic opportunity to bring the psychologically compelling and hugely skillful work of Yolanda and Mike into the same room.  The EAF pop up programme provides an important opportunity for artists and would be artists from within Edinburgh to share ideas as a community and to gain succour and inspiration from opening up a dialogue with peers from farther afield.

This exhibition is enabled in part by a fund set up to celebrate the achievements of Lord Michael Young (founder of OCA) on the 30th anniversary of the educational charity that enabled Mike and many like him. Young’s vision was to offer high quality arts courses by distance learning education, accessible without prior qualifications, as a means of transforming people’s lives, giving them the opportunity and skills to express their creative talents.


Yolanda McKean. b. 1993 Lives and works in Edinburgh

Born 1993 on the south Kent coast, studied painting at Edinburgh College of Art and graduated in 2015. Following my degree show I was selected for the RSA ‘New Contemporaries’ in 2016 and the Compass gallery’s ‘New Generation’ exhibition. Previously I have exhibited as part of group shows in Edinburgh and a small solo exhibition at the Hermitage of Braid, exploring work I made in the park during my time as a student. The paintings are mostly of familiar spaces or objects, exploring ideas of domestic heaven and hell or the sensual experience of the natural world. Working from life, often outside, I react to the space and place around me directly. I look forward to exhibiting back in Kent for the first time next year and in Tenerife for my first major show.

Michael Coombes b. 1937 Lives and works in Bristol

Michael studied commercial design from 1952 at the West of England College of Art. In 1954 he began an apprenticeship in reproduction drawing and lettering. He was employed by a local Bristol company but hand drawing quickly gave way to photographic techniques in the print industry and he completed his apprenticeship in photogravure planning. Call up papers for National Service in 1960 meant two years in Germany before resuming work as a photovisual planner. The role still involved much painstaking work to prepare the separate colour plates in the mechanical processes that gave way in their turn, towards the end of his career, to digital ones. His early lettering tutors used to say to him ‘get the space right and the letter will form itself’ and this notion of getting the space right continues to be a theme in his drawings of his immediate environment and family. He studied Drawing at the Open College of Arts from 2013 – 2017.

Emma Drye b. 1969 Lives and works in Edinburgh

Emma has exhibited across the UK, most recently in Leeds and Edinburgh. She was the recipient of a Paul Hamlyn funded residency at the Glasgow Museum’s service in 2013. She graduated with a degree in painting from Brighton University in 1992 and more recently with distinction from the MFA at Edinburgh College of Art in 2014.  She is currently undertaking a PhD at Chelsea School of Art in London. She is a tutor and course author in fine art and a fellow of the Higher Education Academy. “I enjoy brightly coloured things left behind in dingy places, people being inadvertently funny, cosy crime drama and witnessing the everyday creativity of people at work”

This show has been conceived as an opportunity for artists and others to reflect on how they fit art into their lives. To that end, there are associated events and activities:

Meanwhile – a round table discussion on sustaining an art practice 17/08/2018 6-8pm
A round table discussion with artists to share strategies of resilience, agency, pleasure and acceptance in developing a sustainable art practice. We have several lovely people already confirmed to attend and look forward to meeting more on the night. Free and bookable via eventbrite

Incidental Surgery
4-5pm Tues and Thurs x 2 (4 spaces available)
In the gallery space, in the hour after the gallery closes to the public.
Free of charge
Bookable hour long surgeries with me as an artist mentor to discuss the work of the participant and support them to develop a sustainable practice to fit into their life circumstances.


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