NEWS: Set and costume designer opens first solo show in Glasgow

John Macfarlane, the internationally renowned theatre set, costume designer and painter, will open his first exhibition in Scotland at Compass Gallery on Thursday 5 October 2017, where he was first shown as a graduate in 1970.


Macfarlane will be showing set and costume drawing and paintings from productions past and present, such as his Olivier Award-winning sets for Hansel and Gretel, the New York Metropolitan Opera’s Tosca, the Royal Ballet’s Frankenstein and many more.

Macfarlane graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1970 and was selected for Compass Gallery’s New Generation show, which showcases the best new talent in the Scottish art scene, that same year. He soon moved to London to begin his career as the resident designer at the Young Vic Theatre, London, and is now returning to Compass Gallery after 50 years to showcase his work.

Jill Gerber, director of Compass Gallery, said: “As well as being one of the world’s leading production and costume designers, John is also an accomplished painter and printmaker. His fine art works are scarce and held in national and international private and public collections, so it’s a real coup to have so much of his work on show here at Compass.

“The paintings and drawings on show give us a glimpse into how he designs his most opulent, dramatic sets and costumes, from inception to centre stage.

Macfarlane has drawn and painted several works specifically for the Compass exhibition, including his sinister ‘tree people’ from Hansel and Gretel and the decadent costumes from the Chicago Lyric Opera’s Elektra. Visitors may also recognise a scene from the wings of a Glasgow theatre, which John painted during a production break.

John said: “This is my first exhibition in Scotland, and to hold it in the gallery where I was first shown is a very special moment. It feels very much like a homecoming.

The exhibition contains pieces from some of my favourite productions, like Frankenstein, Rake’s Progress and Swan Lake, but also sketches from the New York Metropolitan Opera’s Tosca, which opens next year. This will be the first time anyone outside the opera company has seen those designs.”

John Macfarlane: At the edge of the wings opens in Compass Gallery on Thursday 5 October. Compass Gallery is a charity that exists to support and promote living artists, and is run by Jill Gerber.

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