Joan Eardley: A Life in Painting

Brian & Pat Samson by Joan Eardley
This week on a short trip to the Scottish borders curiosity was piqued by a rather plain, yellow poster advertising the current 'Joan Eardley; A Life in Painting' exhibition at Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries. What a hidden gem this exhibition turned out to be!

Although born in England, Joan Eardley (1921-1963) became known for her work created whilst living in Glasgow and in the fishing village of Catterline near Aberdeen. Eardley is now considered to be one of the most influential Scottish artists of her generation.  If you're not already familiar with her work, click HERE to see a slideshow of her paintings.

The Gracefield exhibition, drawn largely from it's own collection of Eardley acquisitions, has an impressive array of work on display from her dramatic, wave-spewing landscapes at Catterline to her colourful, mixed media pieces depicting children from Glasgow's tenement slums in all their tatty haired and sooty fingered magnificence. Although the work is plentiful, you get a particular sense of it being allowed space to breathe in the upstairs gallery which is dominated by her landscape work.

The exhibition is further enhanced by the black & white portraits taken of Eardley by her friend and photographer, Audrey Walker and a room dedicated to the work of artists who were influential to, or influenced by, Eardley. In this room you will also find several paintngs by another friend of Eardley's, fellow Scottish artist Margot Sandeman. An unexpected and welcome pleasure.

Two additional treats are a short black & white film of the artist at work and the chance to handle one of her sketchbooks. The film footage was taken from a longer documentary made by the BBC in the 1950's covering the work of contemporary Scottish artists. You get a super snapshot of Eardley drawing with pastels at lightening quick speed to capture a local child who continues to fidget and beam to camera throughout.
Although unable to share that particular piece of film with you, here is an alternative clip about Eardley from a 2010 episode of the BBC's Coast series

If you are in the Dumfries area we'd thoroughly recommend a visit to the exhibition which continues until 24th August 2013 between 10am-5pm daily.

Gracefield Arts Centre
28 Edinburgh Road
01387 253383



AnniD said…
Joan's haunting images of children had stuck in my mind from a former life (?) but I had forgotten her name. Thanks for reminding me!
Murgatroyd said…
Glad to be of service Anni. Now do tell all about that former life... ;D