Earl Haig-Riverbanks: From Bemersyde to Venice
Dawyck Haig had two studios in his home at Bemersyde Castle near Melrose in the Scottish Borders. One was modern, bright, lit from the north and generously proportioned; the other at the top of the original Tower House, a high room with minstrel’s gallery was more severe: a muscular space fit for his work in oils which are characterised by strong compositional building-blocks and rich, earth-colours. His work on paper is altogether different in character. It is seldom pure watercolour in the English tradition (derived from Turner, who had painted the Castle on his Scottish tour of 1831) but rather relies on strong drawing, usually in pen, in a highly individual style full of nervous energy and washes of pure colour. It is the essential, abstract qualities of his subject which the artist seeks to paint and this without deviating from his desire to work truthfully makes Haig the quintessential modern landscape painter. His triumphant ninetieth birthday exhibition here in 2008 and all too short a time later his Memorial show did much to secure his artistic legacy and reputation. This modest show of his watercolours should be the first of a series reviewing aspects of the work of a significant and undervalued Scottish painter.