James Morrison | Decades of Studio Practice

17 Aug 2021

The paintings in this exhibition cover most of my father’s painting life. They range from Catterline in the early 1960s, through the central subjects he repeatedly painted in Angus and the north west of Scotland, to representative works from several of his many painting trips. There are works from Switzerland and Canada, from the Arctic and France.

There are probably some things that are a little less familiar such as the several prints that are here. The colour prints of Angus are well known but the portfolio of drawings from Paris and the etchings made with Sheila MacFarlane at her studio in Kirktower House close to my fathers home are less well known.

James Morrison | Decades of Studio Practice
James Morrison, 1979, etching, 20.5 x 32 cm

Some of the paintings too might be a little surprising. Certainly some of them surprised me when I found them tucked away in a corner of his studio. The strong vermillion red Catterline painting is quite evocative of his early landscape technique with heavier opaque paint than became standard later. The long narrow format too is something that he employed throughout his life. But the colour is not usual. My father often said he didn’t understand colour but this painting is a preface to some of his later abstract land based paintings of the1970s when he worked at St Cyrus, often in a startlingly bright cadmium orange hue.

James Morrison | Decades of Studio Practice
James Morrison, Catterline Landscape, 1959, oil on board, 32 x 131.5 cm

Abstraction reappeared in work through his career. There are a small number of abstract Arctic works and a very late painting here is slightly reminiscent of these. The colour though is more evocative of his palette in the 60s and while there is that resemblance to some Arctic works, the thin paint clearly relates to his later Angus centred technique and the paint handling harks back to some very large abstracts, also from more than 50 years ago

James Morrison | Decades of Studio Practice
James Morrison, Dark Landscape, 2018, oil on board, 51 x 63 cm

The paintings changed a lot over my father’s career, sometimes visibly evolving, sometimes, after a period of destroying things for a few months and so hiding the process of change, apparently in a single step to something radically different. This exhibition lets us see these transitions.

- Professor John Morrison

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