The McGill Duncan Gallery is very much a family business owned and run by the Blamires. Mother and daughter team Jill Blamire and Zoe Davidson curate and direct the gallery. Jill's husband Roger Blamire runs the very busy and successful Gelston Pictures Frames just round the corner in St Andrew Street, Castle Douglas with Leo Blamire.
Leo is an artist and musician as well as a picture framer, he lives in Castle Douglas during the week and returns to Glasgow at the weekend to do his printmaking at Glasgow Print Studio. He has set up a small painting studio in the attic room of McGill Duncan Gallery. He has a whippet called Gatsby and whippets regularly feature in his oil paintings and screenprints.
Joss Blamire works as a Policy Manager for Scottish Renewables in Glasgow and makes regular trips back to Castle Douglas
Jill moved to Scotland in the 1970s to work as Assistant Director of Theatre Workshop Edinburgh. There she met her husband Roger and eventually moved to Dumfries and Galloway where they brought up their three children. She was a Primary Teacher for nearly 20 years specialising in teaching children with learning difficulties. She left teaching to renovate and then open the gallery when the previous gallery owner retired in 2006. She says, 'Every day of life in the gallery is eventful and stimulating. I've always been inspired by the visual arts and as a child I spent many happy hours in the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull. Whenever I visit a new place I always look for the art galleries. With those experiences in mind I hope we have created a lively but traditional exhibition space that is friendly and relaxed.'
Jill uses her keen eye to arrange the displays in the gallery and takes great pride in the aesthetics of the space. Having previously developed her own artistic skills, she is able to talk knowledgeably about many different mediums and techniques. Away from the art world, Jill has two gardens to look after, both here at the gallery and at home. She particularly loves flowers that can be cut and brought into the house or galllery.
Zoë spends a lot of time sourcing work for the gallery. This combines well with her passion for traveling. She designed the gallery logo and rebranded the image of the gallery when the family launched the business. A particular favourite with customers is her McGill Duncan Gallery jute shopping bag. She masterminds the look of the Private View invitations using Adobe InDesign and is responsible for organising the popular Preview events for new exhibitions in the gallery. She is enjoying the challenge of managing the web site.
After many years of being unable to work because of chronic illness, Zoë’s subsequent recovery came at a time when she was able to combine her knowledge of the arts with her new found energy to develop the gallery with an ambitious vision. Zoë explains, 'Both Jill and I look for a truthfulness in the art we choose for the gallery. This means a piece should be enduring and life enhancing whether it is a tiny porcelain jug or a large oil painting. I curated a large Printmakers' exhibition in 2009 with work from some of the best Printmakers in the UK. I am fascinated by Printmaking and the huge variety of techniques involved. Visiting printmaking studios in the run up to the show was enlightening. I enjoyed learning some basic etching techniques on a course at Glasgow Print Studios.'
As well as a passion for the visual arts, Zoë enjoys live music and has organised some unconventional live music events. Zoë practices Iyengar yoga – daily if possible! She loves walking her whippet Antony and letting him run on the beaches of Galloway. For the past year she has been renovating a tiny Arts and Crafts cottage.