Elizabeth Blackadder: The Nature of Things

We could call this 2013 exhibition of recent watercolours modest and indeed everything Elizabeth Blackadder makes is in one sense modest. She does not paint to impress her fellow Academicians in London or Edinburgh, she is unaware of her reputation and she does not seek new audiences and plaudits. Instead she works away, quietly unconscious of anything except the gentle challenge of the next painting. Each is a subtle resolution suggested by the juxtaposition of stems and blooms; or autumn leaves, the first brought as a trophy proffered by Toby, the more tractable of her two cats, arranged in perfect conversation across her sheet.

Her familiar irises and tulips are here and then a surprise; roses, on their narrow, thorny stems, in dusty pinks, as if picked from a wild hedgerow. From Eddy’s Fish Market or the van that toots its horn in her leafy street come lobsters and mackerel, bought for the table but bounty first for the studio. Two years after her monumental retrospective with the Galley of Modern Art this modest assembly of watercolours reminds us that her greatness is undimmed.

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