David Cass Art Exhibition in Edinburgh


Surface was a collection of object-paintings that explored the concept of the surface, shown here in Gayfield Creative (a one-off display in Edinburgh). Created using non-traditional methods and painted on unconventional surfaces, these repetitive and layered artworks are unified by their exclusive depiction of water. From heavily layered oil paintings created outdoors over several years, to miniature gouache artworks painted on matchboxes or coffee-grinder drawers.

The exhibition featured images of water surveyed whilst travelling: the Atlantic from Cádiz, the Adriatic from Dalmatia, the Mediterranean from Liguria. Many were abstracted visions of the English Channel ('Mor breizh') – the strip of water I must cross to reach France, Belgium, Spain and Italy – where I sourced the materials and supports from which these works were made. From Paris’ plethora of antique shops to Brussels’ frequent flea-markets, I sourced and gathered every-day items (wooden, metal, and paper planes) suitable to be transformed in the studio.

These are artworks made from ordinary objects that speak of function and familiarity: tabletops, drawer bases, trunk lids, roadsigns, books & papers. Aged items and objects that describe a lifetime of use in their worn grains – a kind of repetition that is mirrored in the marks of each piece, the obsessive documentation of a singular subject.

David Cass Exhibiting in Edinburgh
David Cass Exhibition in Edinburgh
Cass Paintings in Edinburgh
Details of David Cass in Edinburgh

David Cass in The Scottish Gallery

Years of Dust & Dry

Everything to do with this series was about process, order, function: ordered (numbered) so as to describe a kind of journey. From sparseness through to abundance, these artworks shift from being minimalist and monochromatic – with grain and tooth exposed – to being complete, fully covered and heavily layered paintings.

Brussels was the starting point for this series: the Jeu de Balle flea market, where vendors are mostly those contacted to pick up the leftovers after a house clearance (so, the leftovers of leftovers). We – the diggers, the rummagers – adopt splinters of unknown homes and place them within the walls of new lives, new homes. Or in my case, to completely reroute these items, toward an entirely new purpose.

Since those first mornings spent in Brussels, at flea markets and in the city’s numerous antique and second hand shops (Petits Riens), I’ve aimed to push the inclusion of found objects within my practice to the furthest extent possible. Throughout the creation of this exhibition, as well as returning to Brussels, I visited dozens of antique quarters in cities and towns in France, Italy and closer to home: hunting down Brocantes and Vide Greniers (antique fairs and garage sales) all over France, and returning to Paris’ plethora of vintage shops on several occasions. I began this project painting upon simple planes: drawer bases, boards, table-tops. But I gradually expanded the variety of items on which I painted, choosing increasingly more obscure items, and items of considerable age.

Years of Dust & Dry (David Cass)

In general, each of the items on which I paint has endured a life that speaks of function, of use, of wear. In this exhibition, see for example the pasted canvas scrolls that make The Pool and Exposed: these (now faded, discoloured and fragile) strips of hand stenciled destination signage – once prominent on a coach’s face – revolved, rolled, and covered great distance, hour after hour, day after day for years, for decades. Take the coffee grinders that make Five Lands, Five Lakes: basic and yet integral parts of daily rituals, likewise the printmakers' drawers, the matchboxes whose interiors act as perfect enclosures for miniature sea paintings...

The opening Years of Dust & Dry artworks carry little, or even no paint at all. James Scott Elliot’s Slate exhibits only light repetitive scratching and dust. Its subject is imagined, more of a metaphor than a physical place. The final set in the show Weathered (Oil Oceans) and The Weight of Water, are the opposite of James Scott Elliot’s Slate. These paintings are heavy, entirely covered in layered oil paint. Their physical, textured strokes are the direct opposite of light scratchings on slate. These are paintings in full colour. Created (and kept) outdoors, strapped down, these works comprise dozens of layers, applied over the course of several years.

David Cass Exhibition Shot Example

The overriding point of these works concerns time and memory. Small snippets, memories, fragments of ordinary life and passing (past) time. I intended for this series to read as flickers upon beaten planes. Planes of unknown (but definite) age. And so maybe a focus of this exhibition was erosion: both mental and physical. Cliff faces, coastal scenes: heavy, solid masses, that suffer frequent brutality, much more than the simple function of a door or table. Perhaps this exhibition wasn't an upward progression, concerning growth and construction, but more about stripping back. Deconstructing the notion of the painting to its rawest state, whilst also alluding to the subject of ageing, the passing of time.

Photography by Michael Wolchover & David Cass

David Cass Panorama Exhibition Dark Shot.jpg

ECA Degree Show: 2010

David Cass graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland with first class honours in June 2010. His degree show installation showcased his very first five found-object based paintings, alongside two sculptural wall-pieces.

Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh

When The Moon Hits Your Eye: 2011

Funded by the Royal Scottish Academy and Arts Trust Scotland, When The Moon Hits Your Eye was a group show of nine Royal Scottish Academy John Kinross Scholars, in Shoreditch Town Hall, London. Cass' installation included film, photography, and small-scale paintings arranged under spotlight in the building's cellar.

Shoreditch Town Hall, London

Edinburgh Art Festival Solar Pavilion: 2011

The Solar Pavilion was artist Karen Forbe's vision. This unique structure was built in Edinburgh's St. Andrew's square. Film screenings took place throughout the Edinburgh Festival, including a pair of films David Cass created in collaboration with artist Joseph Calleja entitled Out of Site. More information available on request.

St Andrew's Square, Edinburgh

Right Place, Time Left: 2011

A collaborative exhibition. David Cass & Charlotte Nieuwenhuys both attended the Edinburgh College of Art, one year apart. They began work together whilst living in Brussels in 2010 / 2011. Right Place, Time Left was an immersive exhibition in VDK loft space in central Brussels.

VDK, Brussels



Years of Dust & Dry: 2013

"Years of Dust & Dry, an exhibition which demonstrates a maturing artistic vision, and further establishes Cass' reputation."

This show sees an expansion and development of his ideas, a journey where Cass pushes the boundaries of painting on found objects and broadens his subject matter to encompass new areas, real and imagined. Watch a preview of the exhibition by DBonnarFilms.

The List ***** Art Rabbit *****

The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh

Quest'Arno! Quest'Arno! 2015

Paintings, drawings, overpaintings & film. Artworks that imagine & exaggerate scenes of inundation and destruction: the great Florence flood of November 1966. Inspired by photographic documentation - from press, postcards, residents' photographs - and from imagination, Cass painted scenes with antique paints, on antique papers, card & wood.

A touring exhibition created in collaboration with artist Stephen Kavanagh. The artists drove the works to Italy from Stephen's studio in Fife, Scotland.

Studio Arts College International, Florence


Tonight Rain, Tomorrow Mud: 2015

Work for this exhibition started in August 2013: Cass re-visited Tuscany, and spent time in Lucca - spending days on the streets, drawing, in a new style, using only pen and paper, with little paint, drawn to architectural features, combining a new-found desire to draw city-scenes with his attraction to the image of water. Cass has worked on and off in Florence since graduating in 2010.

Many of the flood related artworks that made up this show were literal depictions, however, taken as a whole, these pieces imagine and exaggerate - particularly in the case of his Overpaintings.

The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh

Surface: 2016

Created using non-traditional methods and painted on unconventional surfaces, these repetitive, layered artworks [are] unified by their exclusive depiction of water. From heavily layered oil paintings created outdoors over several years, to miniature gouache artworks painted on matchboxes or coffee grinder drawers.

These [are] artworks made from ordinary objects that speak of function and familiarity: tabletops, drawer bases, trunk lids, roadsigns, books & papers. Aged items and objects that describe a lifetime of use in their worn grains – a kind of repetition that is mirrored in the marks of each piece and the obsessive documentation of a singular subject.

Gayfield Creative, Edinburgh

Pelàda: 2017

These works — isolated details of Venice — at once celebrate the crumbling charm of Venice, whilst simultaneously raising concerns over its future, and the damage caused by the rising level of both the Adriatic and mass tourism. Read more on the dedicated webpage.

This was Cass' fourth solo exhibition with The Scottish Gallery, and opened the gallery's 175th anniversary year by referencing the rich history of Scottish artists who have chosen Venice as their muse.

The Scotsman ****

The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh

Connections: 2017

As a celebration of Tatha Gallery's third anniversary, they curated 'an engaging mix of established and emerging artists, showcasing the best in Painting and Sculpture. They all, in their own way help us see and make a deeper connection with the world we live in, both internally and externally.'

The show featured eleven of David's sea paintings, two of which are his largest to date (The Weight of Water I & II). The idea was to show examples from each of Cass' stylistic phases: early gouache and wood works; works on obscure surfaces; and fully-covered oils on reclaimed furniture.

Tatha Gallery, Fife

David Cass conjoins the randomness of the snapshot with the picturesque allure of paint and paper textures, the blankness of surface with the evocativeness of names and numbers, and the stillness of nature morte with the promise of a Venice that might again become vibrant.
— Patricia Emison on Pelàda
David Cass uses found wood to make beautiful constructions, but even more strikingly to cut and paint surfaces as though for woodblock printing.
— The Scotsman on Degree Show
[His] is a deceptively simple style, a little like Lowry at times, but with superior technique and less depressing subjects. These are the kind of works which will continue to offer something to the viewer on repeated viewings...
— Claudia Massie for The Spectator on Unearthed
His images are fleeting glimpses, snapshots of memory, moments of reflection which ask the viewer to pause, appealing to our interior, our own deep memories, if only for a moment. His seascapes and city scenes speak of loss and decay as well as beauty and the artist’s observations are a journey into his past as well as the history of the surfaces he paints on; images of eloquence which can resonate with our own sensual histories. His distinctive tonality, assured mark making and clarity of aesthetic vision identify him as one of the finest and most exciting artists to emerge from Scotland in recent years.
— Tommy Tyw on Years of Dust and Dry
David Cass’ exhibition ‘Tonight Rain, Tomorrow Mud’ made a significant contribution to our contemporary line-up in 2015. The body of work was inspired by the devastating floods which swept Florence in 1966. His paintings and drawings on antique objects manage to successfully navigate historical reference with an approach which is direct, meaningful and contemporary. ‘Tonight Rain, Tomorrow Mud’ was an exhibition which informed and inspired in equal measure, as well as a commercial success. Cass is a professional artist and I would heartily recommend him to any institution or gallery.
— Tommy Zyw on Tonight Rain, Tomorrow Mud

Credits / In the Press:

Aesthetica Magazine (Website); ITV Border (Aired); SummerHall TV (Online); Creative Focus Scotland (Mini-Documentary Online); The Scotsman (Newspaper); The List (Magazine); The Skinny (Magazine); NPQ (Not for Profit Quarterly Magazine - Boston); The Southern Reporter (Newspaper); The Border Telegraph (Newspaper); Line Magazine (Magazine); Homes and Interiors Scotland (Magazine); The Spectator (Website); Artists and Illustrators (Magazine); The Artist (Magazine); L'Art de l'Aquarelle (Magazine); The Art of Watercolour (Magazine); The 22 Magazine (Blog); Northings (Blog); Anthology Magazine (Blog); AllThingsConsidered.co.uk (Website); Alignment Magazine (Magazine); Urbans and Indians (Blog); UK Handmade (Magazine); and Notes From The Underground (Website and Newspaper).

Institutions / organisations Cass has worked with in recent months:

Ikono TV; Winsor and Newton; St Judes; The Fruitmarket Gallery / Bookshop; The Royal Scottish Academy; The Scottish Gallery; Edinburgh College of Art; Isle of Man Art College; The Balmoral; Bohun Gallery; Studio Arts College International; Tatha Gallery; Saatchi Online; The Curator; McClure Art; CreateCreate.co; Open Horizon; Joya: arte + ecología; Gayfield Creative; The British Institute of Florence; MAXXI Rome; Artwall Athens; Hidden Door Festival; The Royal Watercolour Society; Bankside Gallery; Mall Galleries; Mall Galleries Commissioning Service; National Open Art Competition; Sunday Times Watercolour Competition; An Talla Solais; Creative Arts Business Network (Creative Scotland); Arts Trust, the RSMA; Snehta (TBA); and more.


Fiona Abbs (artist and past exhibition collaborator); Joseph Calleja (ongoing projects in Scotland and Malta); Becky Campbell (upcoming Athens residency collaborator and past exhibition curation); Robert Clark (author); Rebecca Cusworth (previous exhibitions and ongoing residency communication); DBonnarFilms (Danny Bonnar is a film-maker + photographer who has documented many of Cass' projects); Patricia Emison (author); Jamie Fitzpatrick (artist and past exhibition collaborator); Karen Forbes (Solar Pavilion Project); Helen Glassford (through Tatha Gallery and creative exchange); Gonzaga Gómez-Cortázar (ongoing collaborator); Alex Hammersley (freelance agent sourcing commission clients for Cass); David Hewson (author); Stephen Kavanagh (Florence in flood, research and exhibition); Robin McClure (previous exhibition curation projects); Candia McWilliam (author); Charlotte Meddings (London based curator); Charlotte Nieuwenhuys (previous exhibition collaborator); Sophie Ormerod (artist and past exhibition collaborator); Julia Race (Director of the British Institute in Florence); Giles Waterfield (author).