Borders inspiration draws crowds to first solo exhibition

An English artist connected with his Borders public last week when he launched a first solo exhibition in Scotland with a strong Kelso flavour.

Chris Morgan has attracted a strong following in England after being commissioned by Liverpool FC to paint portraits of Anfield legend and now Rangers FC manager Steven Gerrard. He unveiled 20 new paintings for his ‘Child’s Play’ show at the Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery in Kelso, which featured contemporary takes on typical sibling rivalries and inter-generational relationships.

However, they included a series of paintings inspired by a previous trip to the Borders, notably a young lad in a Kelso rugby strip tying his bootlaces, a child fishing with his grandfather and a horse-rider in full flight.

The rugby painting, entitled ‘Try, Try and Try again’, proved a popular draw with over 100 people visiting the gallery throughout the day, and it was one of the first to be sold. Edenside Primary School pupils Jayden Wilson and Murray Jackson were not the buyers but they admitted it had further inspired their love of art.

Murray said: “I like doing art at school and we heard about the Kelso rugby painting and we were really interested in seeing it. It was amazing to meet the artist and he was really nice. He told us to keep practising and that one day we could have our own exhibition, which would be amazing.”

Jayden added: “I came with Murray for the same reasons really - because I quite like art and we wanted to see the Kelso rugby player painting. But all of his paintings are just so amazing; they’re so detailed and I don’t know how he manages to get all that in. But I really like drawing and painting, and I’d like to learn more.”

The exhibition entitled ‘Child’s Play’ marked a shift from what Morgan’s collectors have come to admire in his contemporary still life work.

Still just 32, Morgan’s inspiration increasingly comes from everyday life, and with a house rocking to the sounds of four boys – it is unsurprising that their antics dominate a large part of his consciousness.

“It’s been great to see so many people coming through the gallery and telling me that my paintings resonate with them,” added Morgan, “whether it was the rugby, other sports or other scenes altogether.”

The Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery in Kelso is open from Tuesday-Saturday, 11am - 5pm. Visit www.thhgallery.com for more information.