25th January 2008 at 00:00
Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries has started 2008 with two cracking, contrasting exhibitions, continuing until February 9 and guaranteed to stimulate and inspire audiences from P7 upwards.

Walker Evans: photographs 1935-36 is a touring show from the Hayward in London and celebrates the work of the late Walker Evans, known as the father of American documentary photography, who became famous for his stark, black and white pictures of poor American tenant farmers taken during the Great Depression years.

Evans, along with writer James Agee, spent several weeks living with three families, documenting the harshness of their lives for a magazine article. The article was never published but the material Evans and Agee gathered was made into a book which, on republication in 1960, was hailed as an American classic. By that time, the fortunes of the families had mostly changed for the better and they were, according to reports, quite miffed to be exposed to the public glare in their Depression era rags.

The Red Bouquet is an exhibition of art exclusively by women, drawn from Gracefield's fine permanent collection, representing over a century of work, from 1875 to the present day. The oil paintings and watercolours; chalk, pencil and ink drawings and prints are hung in chronological order, starting with Lily McDougall who, in 1891, became the first woman allowed to exhibit with the Society of Scottish Artists and coming full circle to Kate Downie, president of the society.

Most of the featured artists, among them Joan Eardley, have a Dumfries and Galloway connection and their work often includes local references such as sheep and cattle and even the distinctive black and white Sanquhar knitting.

T 01387 262084.

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