Maureen Binnie has been globetrotting since she graduated from Glasgow

School of Art in 1980: training and teaching in Paris, Orkney, New

Hampshire, the USA, Belgium, Syracuse, and now Florence. Last year's

move to Italy and its amazing climate has inevitably affected her

palette. The pictures now at Glasgow's Fine Art Society were all done in

Italy and reflect this high-key reaction to life and light.

She paints her garden in hot Gauguin-esque hues, purple jostles

against lemon yellow, raw orange, and spring green. Tree trunks are

striped in multi-colours; a red Tuscan flowerpot erupts with foliage

while umbrella trees provide mauve patterns under deep shade. Barbara

Rae was her teacher at Glasgow and in some looser works like Terraced

Fields, this is evident. Occasional studies veer to the abstract:

Chestnut Forest, June in Cordoso, Vine Study. I much prefer these

powerful evocations to the rather right, garish pastels of roofs and

bushes seen from on high.

Usually, except for big oils, Binnie works outside. This freshness is

crucial. Her best work is smaller scale, with oils resolved into gemlike

compositions such as Garden Study. I also enjoyed a lovely black and

white Pinecones where she uses her rubber to delineate structure. And if

it's any consolation it snows in Florence too -- as she records in Three


The Player National Portrait Gallery awards have been important to

several young Scots including Rosemary Beaton and, in 1987, Alison Watt,

who went on to paint the Queen Mother. In a different way the Player

Award exhibition, and incidentally Italy, equally affected Robbie

Duff-Scott's career. While studying English at York Duff-Scott took a

short course on art history. ''It opened my eyes. I hadn't realised one

could use painting as a vehicle of expression just as much as

literature. I was good at drawing and I knew I couldn't write, so I

taught myself to paint via manuals on restoration and forgery.'' His

second oil painting a self-portrait, was included in London's Players

show where it attracted the attention of the writer Lisa St Aubin de

Terain, now his wife. Through her he went to live in Italy where the

abundance of old master pictures continued his art education.

His exhibition at Artbank Gallery, Glasgow, includes examples of early

works where Duff-Scott is out to prove his technical mastery. Lace

sleeves, silk drapes, china, glass, and fruit are captured in

super-realist detail, their surface texture highlighted to the exclusion

of all else. Happily recent works are technically less tight,

temperamentally less melodramatic, allowing the subject to breathe.

Compositions are ambitious yet rigorous. It takes courage to leave space

within a picture, be it a bare wall, or an ambiguity of emotion.

As his confidence grows Duff-Scott relies less on technique alone, so

that oils like Spilt Wine have a meditative, haunting quality. I also

enjoyed his bold watercolour of Grandmother, and the more punchy

sketches for The Dyers.

In 1972 Lawrence Weiner wrote Not in Lieu of Green. This well-known

New York based artist-with-words still refers to himself as a sculptor,

looking on text as one of his materials. His installation created

specially for Transmission Gallery walls reads : AN ARCH AFFORDED IN A


capitals (capital letters avoid the need for grammar, he explains). This

message is also flyposted around the city. Impost, keystone, etc, are

specific architectural terms while words like slate and stone contain

different associations for different people. Weiner has long pursued his

purist art but, with the recent swing to neo-conceptualism, is now an

icon for many.

The Highland Region open 10 exhibitions a month in 18 separate venues;

all that with a staff of two. Recently they sponsored a very sparky

idea: Five pieces of isolated public art in the form of letterboxes.

These commissioned functional sculptures will be permanently installed

at Lane End on Lewis. The Lewis Letterboxes are looking for good homes.

You can ''apply'' for them by posting your applications (not Christmas

cards) in the boxes currently on show at An Lanntair Gallery, Stornoway.

One eight-ft pillarbox red palm tree growing through the statutory

13-inch cube, is designed by George Wyllie and is sure to be popular.

Other artists include Steve Dilworth who made an oak barnacle goose;

Louise Scullion created an American style mailbox with little stained

glass windows; Iain Brady contributes a crazy big fish with a gannet on

its back and Reinhard Behrens a miniature version of an explorer's hut

or shieling. The letterboxes tour the Highland Region before going home

to Lewis to form a sculpture trail. A series of postcards will be

produced of letterboxes in the landscape, with a map showing where they

area. Good for the Post Office who sponsored this brainwave.

Toulouse-Lautrec is a name to conjure with: a larger-than-life figure

with short legs. London's Hayward Gallery Lautrec exhibition is the most

important and comprehensive ever held in Britain; its 170 works, for my

money, are among the most exciting and innovative you are ever likely to


Lautrec the archetypal decadent Bohemian perhaps obscures the

dedicated artist who met his deadlines in the commercial world of

posters, and illustrations for books, magazines and local papers. He

also designed for the decorative arts: fans, ceramic panels, and art

nouveau glass for Tiffany.

Lautrec's career coincided with the heyday of the Montmartre

cafe-concert and his brilliant evocation of Parisian night life, dance

halls, bars, and notorious brothels of the 1890s are famous the world

over. But reproductions tell only half the tale. It's quite something to

stand in front of the actual paintings of cabaret stars like Yvette

Guilbert, La Goulue, and Aristide Bruant. Every line counts; the dry

surfaces reveal stupendous super-sure draughtsmanship, biting wit, and a

gift for large-scale complex asymmetrical compositions, especially of

the Moulin Rouge.

Portraits of individuals dominate his output. They include

aristocratic male friends, stage stars, family, and prostitutes. Lautrec

was an unsparing observer, (he extolled ''That touch of ugliness without

which there is no salvation'') but he nevertheless paints women with a

sympathetic eye. There is little purience here, more an acceptance of

people as they are.

Also in London The Queen's Pictures at the National Gallery. It's the

first major exhibition in the new breathtakingly beautiful Sainsbury

Wing which the Queen opened in July. The setting for her own 100

masterpieces from Holbein, Vermeer, Canaletto to Landseer, is less

spectacular for it's really in the basement. However these pictures,

from the world's greatest private collection, would look good anywhere.

It's 50 years since so much art has been outside the Palace.