OF ALL Shakespeare's plays, The Tempest is the one which seeks to highlight the space in which art and illusion nestle side-by-side. It was the last work he penned and a strange beast of a play, filled with odd characters who don't fit the usual dramatic stereotypes. A comedy with a heart of darkness.

For artist Ian Rawnsley, this tale of shipwreck, betrayal, magic and revenge represents a lodestone. Throughout his life, he says, he has been drawn to The Tempest. "It's a play steeped in humanity," explains the Troon-based artist, who has spent the last 16 months "obsessed" by the play. "To me,” he adds, "it represents the ageless struggle of power, revenge, love and reconciliation infused in nature's magic.

"The mighty storm of the title brings all the players together on an island, an island as much of the imagination and dream as geography. I personally loved this story for as long as I can remember and, as an artist, I have longed to take its themes and bring the play to life in a new way. It was only through collaboration with another artist I felt this could be truly realised."

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The artist with whom Rawnsley has worked to present a brand new body of work in Glasgow's Thistle Gallery is Jackie Henderson. Like Rawnsley, Henderson has been coming into her own as an artist in the last few years. Like him, she is more than a painter.

In this exhibition, which opens today, between them the two artists have created more than 60 wall-based works, as well as sculpture, jewellery, scarves, tiny wall-hangings and soft furnishings. Rawnsley has even composed an original score based on The Tempest.

Henderson admits that she too has become obsessed by the play, which she had not read until Rawnsley asked her if she would consider working with him on a body of work inspired by its themes.

"I started to read it last June," she says, "but it was only when I started listening to it on audio when it really came alive. It was a challenge in terms of painting figures because there is only one woman in it, Prospero's daughter, Miranda. I tend to only paint women – which is strange because I have four sons – but this has led me into all sorts of interesting places.

"I also listened a lot to Margaret Atwood's novel Hag-Seed, which retold the story of The Tempest. It came out at the time when I was immersing myself in the story and I loved it because it was retelling it from a female point-of-view."

The pair met through exhibiting at The Thistle Gallery, where Henderson also works as a part-time gallery assistant. Rawnsley, who suffered an almost cataclysmic heart attack in December 2015, started thinking about an exhibition hinged around The Tempest while he recovered.

"I knew Jackie was the right person," he says. "We were compatible as individuals and as artists. I talk a lot and she is quieter. What we have produced, in many ways, is quite different interpretations of the story.

"The strong narrative thread in much of Jackie's work lends itself to the play's theatricality and emphasis on human relationship. My own work is steeped in the power of nature and the emotional draw of the sea. Our own creative styles mirror much of the elements and themes of the play.

"The process of working together has produced a whole new dynamic process that expanded our own creativity, converging and diverging in new artistic directions in painting, sculpture and decorative objects. We have strived to produce a body of work which proves that we really are, as Prospero says at the end of The Tempest, 'such stuff as dreams are made on.'"

Rawnsley's dramatic land and seascapes have always surged with a primordial abstract energy, but in this new body of work there is a definite shift in his approach. He has introduced figures into the picture for the first time. Not in every painting, but in a goodly few. Miranda and the Tree sees the female figure almost blending, ghost-like into the air. His figures, in contrast to Henderson's beautiful and tenderly poetic figures, are shimmers in the landscape.

Strangely his figureless paintings, in oils and also in acrylic with pastel, seem to be inhabited. These are touchy-feely works which stay in your mind's eye. He has also thrown colour caution to the wind and introduced deep greens, vivid blues and eye-popping orange into his deeply textured work.

Henderson's work presents a beautifully still contrast to the raw energy of Rawnsley's work. An accomplished illustrator, works such as Tempest in a Tea Cup show her playful side. But for me, the real revelation lies in her bigger works, which are taking her off into a whole new direction as an artist. The White Stag, in acrylic and mixed media, is her biggest work and it's a beauty. Ariel and the Boat, portrays the restless spirit once trapped in a tree, standing with a bird beak mask and angel wings with a paper boat at his feet. It is also rather wonderful. Paper Boats pepper her work; a nod, she says, to the late George Wyllie.

Go see this exhibition. It will make you want to return to The Tempest with fresh eyes.

Tempest: Ian Rawnsley & Jackie Henderson, Thistle Gallery, Glasgow, from today until September 25.

www.thistle-gallery.com