Heroines of Scottish Painting | On Film

03 Mar 2022

Heroines of Scottish Painting

The Scottish Gallery has played a significant historical role by championing and exhibiting female painters alongside their peers. This March we have selected work by some of our Heroines of Scottish Painting to highlight their influence and talent. Here we share archive film footage from Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Elizabeth Blackadder, Victoria Crowe, Kate Downie, Joan Eardley and Anne Redpath.

click here to see the full exhibition

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham CBE, HRSA, HRSW (1912-2004)

Heroines of Scottish Painting | On Film
Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, 1980, photography by Robert Mabon

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham was represented by The Gallery throughout her career. Important exhibitions of her work at the Tate St Ives in 1999/2000 and 2005, and the publication of the first monograph on her life and work, Lynne Green’s W. Barns-Graham: A Studio Life, 2001, confirmed her as one of the key contributors of the St Ives School, and as a significant British modernist. She died in St Andrews on 26 January 2004.

click here to view work by Wilhlmina Barns-Graham

Elizabeth Blackadder DBE, RS, RSA, RSW, RGI (1931-2021)

Heroines of Scottish Painting | On Film
Elizabeth Blackadder, 1978

Dame Elizabeth Blackadder DBE, RA, RSA, RSW, RGI was born in Falkirk in 1931. She studied at ECA from 1949 until 1954 under Robert Henderson Blyth and William Gillies inter alia and earned travelling scholarships to southern Europe and Italy. In 1956 she married artist and fellow Scottish Gallery exhibitor John Houston and began teaching in Edinburgh. She taught at Edinburgh College of Art from 1962 until her retirement in 1986. One of Scotland's greatest artists, she also garners recognition and success in London. In 1972, Blackadder was elected member of the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh and in 1976 she gained entry at the Royal Academy, London - the first woman to be elected into both institutions.

Her exhibitions were great events, normally held during The Festival and of huge importance to the Gallery, commercially and reputationally. In the latter years, particularly after John died in 2008, and when laterally illness robbed her of her ability to work, I continued to see her and continue representation, looking to fulfil the plans she and John had made for the future. She was a charming, rather other-worldly person, a kind woman with a unique talent whose legacy is her extraordinary oeuvre.

click here to view work by Elizabeth Blackadder

Victoria Crowe OBE, DHC, FRSE, MA(RCA), RSA, RSW (b.1945)

Heroines of Scottish Painting | On Film
Victoria Crowe in her Edinburgh Studio, 2018 photography by Ken Gray

Victoria Crowe’s first solo exhibition at The Scottish Gallery was in 1970. In August 2018,The Scottish National Portrait Gallery held a retrospective exhibition of Victoria Crowe’s portraits, Beyond Likeness. In 2019 The City Art Centre honoured Victoria Crowe’s career with a four floor retrospective, 50 Years of Painting. Her retrospective enjoyed a record number of visitors and embraced every aspect of Crowe’s practice and featured over 150 artworks. The Gallery hosted a complementary exhibition in September 2019, 50 Years: Drawing & Thinking which examined her studio practice

click here to view work by Victoria Crowe

Kate Downie RSA, PPSSA (B.1958)

Heroines of Scottish Painting | On Film
Kate Downie in her Fife Studio, 2019 photography by Alicia Bruce

Born in North Carolina, Kate Downie studied at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen before travel and residencies took her to the United States, England, Amsterdam and Paris.

Downie is one of the most subtle and persuasive colourists of her generation and she will only add to her palette from real experience. This gives her work a truth and authority, a right to transport us to the unfamiliar or provide an urgent reminder of where we have also been.

click here to view work by Kate Downie

Joan Eardley RSA (1921-1963)

Heroines of Scottish Painting | On Film
Joan Eardley in Catterline, 1961

Joan Eardley found opportunities unavailable to a previous generation in the 50s and 60s, not least with The Scottish Gallery, and in the more than fifty years since her death we have continued to represent her estate and promote her national and international reputation.

Her stature as an artist of international significance is assured and her work continues to draw a personal, emotional response from those who care to look. Throughout her short, prolific life she was attracted by the real and the raw: in Italy and France she avoided the guidebook recommendations; it was the beggars in St Mark’s Square that instigated an ambitious scaled painting, the impoverished and old provided her sitters and a tumbledown farm with an ox and a stack of maize appealed more than the cathedrals and castles of France. In Glasgow she chose to place herself amongst the poverty, the street urchins comfortable in her benign, eccentric presence – what an anthropologist would call ‘participant observation’.

click here to view work by Joan Eardley

Anne Redpath OBE, RSA, ARA, RWA (1985-1965)

Heroines of Scottish Painting | On Film
Anne Redpath in her Edinburgh Studio, 1960

Anne Redpath was the pivotal figure in the group of painters now referred to as The Edinburgh School. Born in Galashiels in 1895 and brought up in Hawick, she attended Edinburgh College of Art, receiving her diploma in 1917.

Her brilliant manipulation of paint, left in delicious peaks or eked across a rough surface with a palette knife, is characteristic of her varied responses to different subjects at different times. She was elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1947 and was the first woman to be elected as a full member, in 1952.

click here to view work by Anne Redpath

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