This artwork has been painted very thickly and has a messy quality, with heavy, blurred outlines and use of block colours. The woman, a very motherly looking lady, sits reading to the children, who appear to be so eager to hear the story that they cannot sit still. They are sitting in front of the woman, crawling over one another and getting closer. There is a dense hedge behind the scene and just over the top of the wall we catch a glimpse of the outside world, of trees and sunlight. It is almost as if they are all in their secret world of stories and the outside world cannot intervene. The blurriness and mesh of colours suggests movement, or perhaps the haze from a sunny summer's day.
Martin Baillie (1920-2012) was a gifted painter, art historian and critic, who taught art history of Glasgow University and wrote about art in The Herald.
He was born in Edinburgh and attended Edinburgh College of Art, where he studied painting and was awarded the major travelling scholarship which first enabled him to see much of the western world's great art in situ.
After a spell lecturing in Leeds, he came to Glasgow in 1954 to become a tutor in art history in the Department of Extra-Mural Studies (as it then was) at the University of Glasgow. For many years he was also art critic of the Glasgow Herald, where his exhibition reviews were models of lively but balanced judgment.
As a painter, he exhibited widely and his work is found in both public and private collections. He cared little for artistic fashions and as many came and went, pursued his own distinctive figurative style, his family being submitted to constant sketching as references for his painting.
A perfectionist, he was stubbornly reluctant to consider any painting finished, and both home and workplace were richly furnished with stacks of canvases at various stages.
With thanks to the Herald Scotland for artist information