While we were last up at Abbot Hall Gallery in Kendal a couple of paintings included in the display of works from the Gallery’s own collection on the first floor took my eye. The Gallery have a large collection but limited space so they only have a limited number of works on display at any one time, which change from time to time. I couldn’t recall seeing these particular paintings previously, so had a closer look. They reminded me a little of the work of the Irish artist, Camille Souter, whose paintings I’ve seen during my visits to the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin.
It turned out that they were paintings by Joan Eardley a 20th Century artist,
s born on 18 May 1921 in Sussex but whose family moved to the Glasgow suburb of Bearsden in 1940 when she was 19. She enrolled at Glasgow School of Art the same year.
She became known for her portraits of local children near her studio in Glasgow. In the late 1950’s she started to visit the Scottish seaside village of Catterline, in Aberdeenshire, moving there permanently in 1961, where she painted seascapes and landscapes. The Abbot Hall paintings are from that period.
According to the National Galleries of Scotland website she was
one of Scotland’s most popular twentieth century artists. Her powerful and expressive paintings transformed her everyday surroundings, including the rugged Scottish coastline and Glasgow’s street children. During her lifetime she was considered a member of the post war British avant-garde, who portrayed the realities of life in the mid-twentieth century.
She became well known for her work in Scotland and probably would have become more widely recognised but died in 1963 from breast cancer when she was only 42.
The two Abbot hall paintings, although figurative, have a strong abstract quality to them. Apparently, she liked to paint outdoors, working quickly to capture the changing light and conditions, in all sorts of weather, and would sometimes add vegetation to her thickly textured paint.
It’s always good to discover the work of an artist I’ve not really come across before during a gallery visit. And I’ll certainly be trying to find out more about Joan Eardley and her work.