Wilhelmina Barns-Graham was born in St Andrews and attended Edinburgh College of Art 1932-7. She moved to St Ives in the 1940s, where she joined the artist societies of Newlyn, St Ives and Penwith and became friends with Nicholson, Hepworth and Gabo. A trip to Switzerland in 1948 inspired her Glacier Series and further significant travel to Italy in 1955 highlighted her strong draughtsmanship. She divided her time between St Andrews and St Ives from 1960 and produced various significant series of abstract works from the geometric to the more organic. Later in her life, her work took on a colourful, painterly flourishing in tandem with magnificent printmaking with Graal Press, consolidating her place as a major Modern British figure.
Alex Boyd is a landscape and documentary photographer, printmaker and writer. His work is concerned with landscape, identity and land ownership, themes he has explored with collaborators such as Edwin Morgan and musician Nick Cave. His work examines the role of early Scottish landscape photographers, often using antique processes such as the Victorian ‘wet-plate collodion’ process using plate cameras on mountain tops. His series on the Cuillin mountains on the Isle of Skye during his RSA’s Residency in 2013 is held in several national collections including the National Galleries of Scotland; Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh; Victoria & Albert Museum, London and The Yale Center for British Art, USA.
‘Alex Boyd’s images represent a major addition to the tradition of modern landscape photography.’ – Robert Macfarlane, Author
Born near Edinburgh in 1972, Ruth Brownlee graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 1994. In 1998, she moved to Shetland. Her work is included in the public collections of The Fleming-Wyfold Collection, London, and Shetland Museum.
‘Having lived by the sea since visiting Shetland to teach a painting workshop 24 years ago, my work continues to be inspired by this archipelago in the North Sea. Shetland is a rugged environment with an intense visual drama of constant changing elements. As I love walking and walk whenever I can; I watch the weather, and read the mood of the sea which filters into my studio practice. Capturing the intense atmosphere of this wild place is more important to me than trying to include the details of the coastal landscape.’ – Ruth Brownlee
Anne Campbell has worked as an artist and photographer for over twenty years, living and working in the Northeast of Scotland, where she has a studio in the village of Monymusk. She currently teaches photography at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen. Anne specialises in traditional and experimental darkroom processes to explore the Scottish landscape and capture the fragile northern ecosystems of the Highlands and Islands. Working with film and chemical processes, (layering and exposing different areas of the print by the use of bleaching and redeveloping), allows for the creation of textural layers, creating one- off, subtle yet complex images, that mirror the atmospheric and changeable weather systems, the landscape and her response to it; the transitory nature of human presence. The surface qualities can be painterly and descriptive of personal experience or may mirror the visceral qualities of nature: they can reference the past while looking to the future.
Victoria Crowe studied at Kingston School of Art from 1961-65 and at the Royal College of Art, London, from 1965-68. At her postgraduate show, she was invited by Sir Robin Philipson to teach at Edinburgh College of Art. For thirty years she worked as a part-time lecturer in the School of Drawing and Painting while developing her own artistic practice. She lives and works in West Linton, Edinburgh, and Venice. Her first one-person exhibition, after leaving the Royal College of Art, was in London and she has subsequently gone on to have over fifty solo shows.
Victoria Crowe’s first solo exhibition at The Scottish Gallery was in 1970. In August 2018, we held a major exhibition of paintings at The Scottish Gallery. This coincided with The Scottish National Portrait Gallery’s retrospective of Victoria Crowe’s portraits. In 2019 The City Art Centre held a retrospective entitled 50 Years of Painting. This exhibition embraced every aspect of Crowe’s practice and featured over 150 pieces.
Victoria Crowe is a member of the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) and the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours (RSW). She has exhibited nationally and internationally and undertaken many important portrait commissions, including RD Laing, Peter Higgs and Jocelyn Bell Burnell. She has received many bursaries and research awards and her work is held in numerous public and private collections worldwide.
In 2000, her exhibition A Shepherd’s Life, consisting of work selected from the 1970s and 80s, was one of the National Galleries of Scotland’s Millennium exhibitions. It received great critical acclaim. The exhibition toured Scotland and was re-gathered in 2009 for a three-month exhibition at the Fleming Collection, London. Victoria was awarded an OBE for Services to Art in 2004 and from 2004-2007, she was appointed Senior Visiting Scholar at St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge. The resulting work, Plant Memory, was exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 2007 and subsequently toured Scotland. In 2009 she received an Honorary Degree from The University of Aberdeen and in 2010 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
In 2013, Dovecot Studios wove a large-scale tapestry of Victoria’s painting Large Tree Group. This collaborative tapestry was acquired for the National Museums Scotland. In 2015, Victoria was an invited artist at Dumfries House and in 2016 a group of work by the artist was acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland. Victoria was commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers’ in 2014, to design a forty-metre tapestry for their new hall in the city of London, which took over three years to weave and was installed in January 2017. Dovecote worked with Victoria Crowe to produce a new tapestry inspired by a detail from her painting Twilight, Venice, 2014. The new tapestry, Richer Twilight, Venice was completed and unveiled at the end of September 2019.
Peter Davis was born in North Shields and studied art and design at Northumberland College of Education, graduating in 1975. He has spent a large part of his career teaching art and design in the Orkney Islands from 1982-1991 and began teaching in Shetland from 1992. He has been painting full time since 2013 from his studio in Shetland. He has exhibited in the Northern Isles, the UK and internationally.
‘There’s a point at which the act of painting and the inherent action of nature align themselves and that frequently happens in watercolour. I consider it the most natural of all the painting mediums, comprising pigment, a binder which is mainly gum arabic, and water, the drying process leaving the pigment on the surface. The two extremes of stillness and flow and the myriad activity between the two are what make watercolour, for me, the most natural medium with which to depict the extremes of the Northern landscapes. I have painted this subject for over 40 years, and it continues to provide a source of excitement and exploration. I have no wish to simply record what I see. I do not seek sedate topographies often associated with the term ‘watercolour landscapes’. Instead, I prefer the uncertain balance between abstraction and reality.’ – Peter Davis
Pat Douthwaite was born in Glasgow in 1934. She studied mime and modern dance with Margaret Morris, whose husband, J. D. Fergusson, encouraged her to paint. This important influence apart, she was self-taught. In 1958 Pat lived in Suffolk with a group of painters, including the Scots Colquhoun and MacBryde, and William Crozier. From 1959-1988 she travelled widely, to N. Africa, India, Peru, Venezuela, Europe, U.S.A., Kashmir, Nepal, Pakistan, Ecuador and from 1969 lived part of the time in Majorca, and more recently in various properties across the Scottish Borders. She died in July 2002 in Broughty Ferry.
Gallery Director Guy Peploe knew the artist well and is the recognised expert on her work. He published a monograph on the artist in 2016.
Kate Downie was born in North Carolina but raised from the age of 7 in Scotland. She studied at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen before travel and residencies took her to the United States, England, Amsterdam, Paris and Japan. Her constant search for new challenges and inspirations has seen her set up studios in such diverse places as a brewery, an oil rig, and an abandoned Hydroponicum.
As a Landscape painter her subject matter is often the man-made rather than the natural, but it is defined by good draughtsmanship and a sense of movement.
‘One of my creative concerns is to define these spaces between buildings rather than the buildings themselves. The object lesson for me is the witnessing and the drawing of these nonplaces which are also, by definition, public arenas of cumulative activity. My job as an artist is to accommodate these actions in our contemporary lives, and to find the poetry within.’
– Kate Downie
Laura Drever was born in Kirkwall, Orkney. Laura studied Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh College of Art and works from her studio in Kirkwall. For nearly twenty years Laura has been exploring the changing nature of her native islands. By walking over and through the landscape the artist has come to a deep understanding of the fabric and form of the hills, valleys and seascapes around her. She has exhibited regularly throughout the UK, and takes an active role in Orkney’s creative community. Laura is Chair of Soulisquoy Printmakers, delivers creative workshops and nurtures others through short residencies with locally based arts organisations.
‘The modern Orkney landscape is characterised by the agricultural developments of the last 150 years or so, which saw a complete transformation in appearance from common grazing and piecemeal cultivation, to squared-off, drained and ordered fields. The higher up and more difficult to reach places, that proved impossible to put under the plough, endured, and most outlooks across the islands are capped by a contrasting layer of rough grass and heather. It is to these more rugged and untamed landscapes that Laura Drever is most often attracted… [and her paintings] offer a sense of the geology of these unpeopled landscapes and, through the artist’s careful modulation of tone and colour, a feeling of slowly evolving space.’ – Extract from Teebro, New Work by Laura Drever, Andrew Parkinson, The Pier Arts Centre, 2022
Ian Fleming was born in Glasgow in 1906 and studied at Glasgow School of Art during the 1920s before joining their staff in 1931. In 1954, he relocated to Aberdeen as Principal of Gray’s School of Art but continued to pursue his painting practice alongside his academic commitments. He was elected a full Academician of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1956, and by the time of his death was the longest-established member. The fishing towns of Angus and Kincardineshire were to be his inspiration for many post-war paintings in which he celebrated the colour, forms and architecture of the working harbour communities.
Born, raised and educated in Orkney, Kevin has been working with wood ever since childhood. Growing up, he could always be found in the family garden shed making wooden items. His hobby developed into his passion when he left school in 1996 at the age of 16 to launch his much-desired career as an apprentice with a well-known local furniture maker who held a reputation for high-quality craftsmanship. Here, he continued to work and expand his skills and techniques for nine years, which eventually lead to him establishing himself as The Orkney Furniture Maker in April of 2007 with the aim of producing traditional furniture as well as his own new designs.
Kevin’s work brings together his passion for local traditional techniques and materials, combining them with innovation and design to create unique pieces with a connection to his island home. Every piece from the collection is individually created by him and his small, dedicated team. Kevin has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally and now has a world-wide customer base.
Kenneth Gray is an Edinburgh based freelance graphic designer and photographer. Kenneth has worked on a wide variety of commissions, including arts catalogues, brochures, corporate identities, prospectuses, children’s magazines and websites. Earlier this year Kenneth Gray was commissioned by the artist Victoria Crowe to visit Orkney and document her RSA residency there. This was a great opportunity to record Victoria’s work, her response to the expansive rock and seascapes, and for him to react personally to Orkney’s ancient environment through photography. Kenneth’s photographic portrait of Victoria Crowe is held in the collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
Sylvia Hays studied art at Northwestern University, Chicago before commencing teaching art and history of art at the Mary Baldwin University in Virginia. She moved to the UK in 1974 to continue her art practice and moved to Orkney in 2002. Sylvia’s first solo exhibition in Orkney, A Place in the Land, was held at the Pier Art Centre, and toured nationally. Sylvia has exhibited internationally with her most recent exhibition being held at the Orkney Museum.
‘Living in Orkney, to borrow a phrase, ‘concentrates the mind wonderfully.’ Certainly, the austere landscape, the ever-present sea with its pageantry of weather-induced moods and colours, concentrates the senses. Sylvia Hays, the American painter who has known Orkney for twenty- five years, and has lived here since 2002, has an independent mind and would not willingly surrender a particle of her liberty. Orkney to her was freedom. A place ‘out of the box’ of the southern art world. Sylvia Hays employs all the resources of a modern painter to depict her own environment, she gave them a depth of feeling, a richness of colour and texture, a personal drama, beyond the grasp of a traditionally trained landscape or marine painter. There is a constant presence of a horizon, that great horizontal that all painters must keep in their minds even when they conceal it.’ – Douglas Hall, 2011 (Founder and first Keeper of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh)
David Kirkness was born in Westray, Orkney, 1855 and died in Kirkwall, Orkney, 1936. In the 1870s he moved to Kirkwall where he set up a general joinery workshop, making traditional straw-backed Orkney chairs as a side-line. Twenty years later the Orkney chair had become the workshop’s main product. In May 1890, Kirkness was invited to submit two Orkney straw chairs to be part of the Scottish Home Industries Association display at the fifth Scottish International Exhibition in Edinburgh. The chairs generated widespread interest as their handcraftsmanship and vernacular design had a natural affinity with the Arts and Crafts movement. The traditional ‘straw chair’ became the fashionable ‘Orkney Chair’, gracing drawing rooms designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh among others. A pair was even sent to King Edward VII. The aristocratic women who ran the Scottish Home Industries Association proved invaluable in marketing the Orkney chair. Driven by a desire to promote Scottish goods made in rural homes, they promoted it at British and foreign exhibitions. This led to increased sales to individuals and shops, including exports to South Africa, the Americas, India and Australia. The Orkney chair fitted into a romantic view of Scottishness at the turn of the century, and the idea that a well-crafted object could embody local or national identity. By 1909, retailers such as Liberty of London were ordering over 40 chairs a month. Four other Orkney workshops began making the chair, but none matched the success of David Kirkness. Over his lifetime Kirkness made a reported 14,000 chairs. The demand came from a fashionable clientele far removed from local Orkney families. After the Second World War, Reynold Eunson, a fellow Orcadian carpenter, bought the workshop and continued manufacturing the Orkney chair in the traditional manner. Kirkness should not be identified as an Arts and Crafts maker. He was not reviving a ‘lost’ tradition. Instead, the Orkney chair is a ‘vernacular’ object, its design, and even some of the tools used in manufacture, passed down from generation to generation of Orcadians. Kirkness’s innovation was to standardise the basic chair into four models: a gentleman’s, lady’s and child’s version of the standard chair, as well as a hooded version with box base. In doing so, he reflected contemporary Victorian social conventions but also simplified the making and marketing of his products.
I paint Orkney outside. The wind and dynamic light are energies which make me happy; they fly by while the mass is going nowhere. Diana Leslie
After graduating from Glasgow School of Art in 1998, Diana Leslie returned to her home in Orkney to set up her studio in Stromness. It is her deep sense of belonging that allows Leslie to create intimate and honest depictions of the Orcadian townscape and community. Her sources are various; Stromness, the sea, flowers, art. She works with paint, print and drawing. Landscape is central to her practice.
‘Painting has a magical property: it can hold on to energy and strange things like freedom, even when the artist is long gone. It tells its own truth.’ Diana Leslie
Drawing is Ron Sandford’s occupation, and he has been drawing everyday with absolute serious intent for at least 50 years. The son of a Greenock engineer who always had a pencil behind his ear, Ron studied at Glasgow School of Art before moving to London to teach at the Central School of Art and the Royal College of Art. In 2002, Ron moved to a secluded house in Yell. Free from the shackles of commissions and teaching he has been able to completely immerse himself into drawing the landscape, people and culture of Shetland. Ron draws anything and everything and his work is a fusion between architectural precision and the free spirit of mark making that he has absorbed from the great tradition of Asian art.
Frances Scott is a photographic artist from Orkney, currently based in Glasgow. She studied Communication Design at Glasgow School of Art, specialising in photography and graduating in 2014. Her work examines themes of memory, geography, and belonging, often centred around journeys made through landscapes of personal significance. Since 2016 Frances has been working on a long–term project to walk and document the coastlines of Orkney. She is a founding member of the Orkney–based Móti Collective, and a co-creator of Holm Sound, a digital offshoot of ØY Festival.
Born in Kirkcaldy in 1930 Frances Walker studied at Edinburgh College of Art and then took up a post as visiting teacher of art for the Hebrides. This experience engendered in her a life-long love of wild and desolate places and since then she has chosen to depict the most remote landscapes, her compositions usually based on coastal reaches, craggy rocks and deserted beaches. Moving to Aberdeen, Walker took up a post at Gray’s School of Artwhere she taught for many years. After retirement she has since divided her time between Aberdeen and the Western Isles, especially Tiree, where she owns a thatched cottage, but more recently has also travelled further afield – her latest inspiration being the even wilder and more desolate landscape of the Antarctic and South Georgia. A suite of Antarctic paintings were recently bequeathed and exhibited as part of a major exhibition, Among the Polar Ice at The McManus in Dundee (September 2019 – March 2020).
Click here to see prints by the artist.
Wishart was an Orkadian who had always painted. She was encouraged by artist and poet friends to attend Gray’s School of Art as a mature student. She then taught in Aberdeenshire, Lewis and Orkney before taking a position at Gray’s and moving to a cottage on Ythan Estuary at Howe near Tarty. It is with Orkney that she is most associated and most of her work is still on the islands. She had a studio initially on the pier at Stromness, which became the Pier Art Centre to house the collection of her great friend Margaret Gardiner. After a major refurbishment, the gallery reopened with a Wishart exhibition in 2007. Her home was at Heatherybraes looking over Hoy Sound and St John’s Head: a vista of fields, shores and distant cliffs which was her favourite subject.
We are currently looking for work by Sylvia Wishart, if you have any works you are interested in selling please contact The Gallery.