Friday, December 16, 2016

Joan Eardley: A Sense of Place

Image from National Galleries Website

Today we took in the Joan Eardley exhibition, A Sense of Place at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Admittedly my experience of Ms. Eardley's work was rather limited until fairly recently. The artist makes a distinct impact once paths cross as she did when I first came across her painting Catterline in Winter as part of the Modern Scottish Women: Painters and Sculptors exhibition earlier in the year.

It was a rare treat to see so many of Eardley's paintings together, as the beautifully curated exhibition, Sense of Place guided us from her paintings of Glasgow tenements and children, to the seaside cottages and landscape of Catterline. I felt I was having a conversation with the artist as we walked from room to room through her exhibition.

She is a master colourist and her marks are energetic and powerful. I could almost sense her delight when the colours popped and worked together or when an expert smudge made an expression come to life or a broad stroke created an angry sea. She had such a strong and capable handling of her medium.

There is a fevered passion, dedication and a strength to her work that has left me in awe. Her work made me want to be a better painter and to immerse myself deeper in the craft. I sensed that her paintings and her time spent working on them were her everything and that she was still there somewhere deep within these papers and canvases.

While the artist sadly passed away from breast cancer at the age of 42 in 1963, her paintings feel as alive and vital as if someone had painted them yesterday. Not dated or lost in time in anyway, these works are classic and contemporary at the same time. Transcendent.

It felt as if Eardley was sometimes chiding me as I looked at her work, asking me what the hell I was doing with my time. As I left the exhibition, I felt the need to paint furiously for every day she hasn't been on the planet.

Thank you, Ms. Eardley. Message received.

Joan Eardley | A Sense of Place
3rd December 2016 − 21st May 2017
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art | £9 (£7)

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