10 may 2012 | roland fraser

The Arts Diary: Finding inspiration on the farm (and in abstract expressionism)

By TIM CORNWELL Published on Thursday 10 May 2012

The titles of Roland Fraser’s artworks reflect the sources of the wood remnants he uses to make them.

So among the 16 pieces on show at the Open Eye from next week – in his first solo show in a mainstream Edinburgh gallery – are works called Trailer, Shearing Pen, Barrow, Straw Barn III and Ratrun 3.

Fraser’s pieces are flat wood constructions that meld the rubbed and worn textures, paints and grains of salvaged timber. He will draw on roof beams or wall boards from old barns, as well as reclaimed fence posts or doors that have been well-used by animals or people, sometimes for centuries.

Ratrun 3 features in the invitation for the exhibition, which opens on Monday. The piece includes parts of an old door, from the farm on the outskirts of Edinburgh where he works, along with three ratholes burrowed through it. Like the other works, it has tracings of pale paint colours, working time-worn woods into new objects. It’s also got a sense of humour.

“The farm has been a source of material, but also a source of inspiration,” he says. “I like these functionalist colours that you get in farms, the grays and the pinky reds, and the whole dourness you get. They come from something real, you are taking fragments of something that’s had a life doing something, it’s impregnated with the time, and people*rsquo;s hands and, in the case of the rodent holes, with animal activity as well.”

Fraser is a former St Andrews University art history graduate who went on to specialise first in furniture, and then furniture making, but has recently forcused on his “semi-sculptural” artworks. They‘re partly inspired by medieval wall fragments, but American abstract expressionism is “all in the melting point as well”.