Monday 1 August 2016


BARBARA RAE CBE, RA, began travelling in 1968 when she won a Scottish Arts Council award. She has not stopped since - as titles - 'Arizona', 'Spanish Terraces', Downpatrick,' 'Zafra Spain', 'South Africa.' Quinag', from her EDINBURGH FESTIVAL show at the OPEN EYE Gallery demonstrate. 
Ireland & Spain were early favourite inspirational places, their wild landscapes & vast skies providing direct, tangible scenes & structures as a sound foundation from which to leap.
And leap she did. In the mid 1980s she discovered Sante Fe & its surrounding arid landscape, resulting in the high key brilliant reds, hot yellows & burning oranges of pictures like 'Desert Figure' 1996.
Since then she has travelled far & wide, researching, sketching, experimenting, developing, painting non stop in a working life that has accomplished much. Her pictures & prints have been exhibited in London, Chicago, New York, Washington, Dublin, Gibraltar, Oslo, Hong Kong & Mexico City. 
Moreover for the last 20 years she has been a Royal Academician, exhibiting there & working as a very active Member of Council.

All this & more from her Edinburgh base..............

This exhibition covers a period of 55 years - from 1961 to today. Incredible. 
Early pictures: (Night Filling Station, Brewery Holyrood or Basques Among Trees,) are in her early dark, brooding tones but already contain her characteristic fluid gestural brushstrokes. 
The most recent works date from 2015 but in between she has created prints, collages, monotypes, paintings - nowadays always acrylic - and many incorporating mixed media with fragile layered papers & tissue to provide a perfect surface & texture.  
I first wrote about Barbara Rae in 1981. By 1983 she was stirring things up as President of the Society of Scottish Artists, (SSA). 

Once RAE was frequently spending time in North America & Mexico her work heated up, her myriad rich colours vibrant, joyful, succulent, hedonistic. Her studio paints tell the story.    
A new departure is ceramics - dishes, vases, - a small surface compared to her vast canvases but equally full of captive atmosphere to see & enjoy. 
Her next foray is quite different. Next week she leaves for her 2nd trip to the Arctic. 

Already RAE has created profound, memorable monotype images of icy cold frozen seas, stately polar bears, & fish who swim far from Scotland! A keen distillation of the Arctic's very essence.
It's all a far cry from heat-waves & desert sand.

As Rae says, "I'm following in the footsteps of my namesake, John Rae, an Orcadian doctor who found the final part of the Northwest Passage & explored the Arctic coast in 1849." 

He was noted for stamina, skill, ability .... as is she!  
But above all it's good to remember Rae's basic mantra, “My work is a painting, not a representation of a landscape or a boat. It is marks on a canvas & colour.”

The OPEN EYE exhibition runs till 31st August, Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE. 

No comments:

Post a Comment