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I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on janpatience@me.com (All work © Jan Patience)

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Some Joan Eardley strands

From left to right, The Watchie Path, by Kate Downie, Memories of Joan E by James Greer and two of the (grown up) Samson sisters, part of a large family from Townhead, Glasgow, whom Joan Eardley painted often in her studio close to their house.

I'm doing some blog housekeeping here and trying to pull disparate elements of this blog together. Joan Eardley (1921-1963) is an artist I keep returning to time and time again. I am absolutely fascinated by her life and work.
I'm not alone. She has been a huge influence on the work of countless artists, particularly here in Scotland.
Edinburgh-based Kate Downie's Coast Road Diaries (2007-2009) exhibition is about to open in the new year at Gracefield Art Centre in Dumfries. In it, she pays tribute to a handful of Scottish artists who have been influenced by the power of the sea, a recurring motif in her own work.
After Kate sent me the catalogue, which is a fascinating document in itself (Kate is a fine writer), I was literally dreaming about it all night.
Her imagery is very personal but so, so memorable. This exhibition charts a personal journey following in the footsteps of eight well-known Scottish artists and their fascination with the extremities of our coastline.
Among the artists is Joan Eardley. Despite having been hugely inspired by Eardley, Kate had never visited Catterline until two years ago 'because what would I say that hadn't already been said so brilliantly?'
Speaking as an Eardley devotee, the answer is: quite a lot. (This ink on paper drawing is a view up to Eardley's studio in Catterline). Downie drawsl like a dream but brings fiery passion to the process.
A must-see (in fact, I must see it!!) After Gracefield, it heads up to Duff House in Banff, Aberdeenshire.

The artist Lesley Banks and I went to a talk on Joan Eardley at Callendar House in Falkirk in March this year.
The artist Lys Hansen offered up fresh insights into the life of Eardley but the highlight of the day was meeting Pat and Anne Samson, who were part of the large family from Glasgow's east end painted by Eardley time and time again.
They are pictured here front of their younger selves. Very moving to see.
Ann's memories of Eardley are still razor sharp. Initially, she said, she was scared of her, as she had never seen a woman who dressed like a man in big duffle coats and working boots.
One of the many little details I found fascinating was the fact that Joan Eardley kept a stash of brightly-coloured clothes in her studio for Ann, Pat and all the other siblings to wear when she painted them.
I'd always wondered where these brightly-coloured pinks and reds came from as this was an age of austerity. As Ann pointed out, there was very little money to go around, even more so with 13 children in the house.

Currently on show at Mansfield Park Gallery is a beautiful little wood engraving by James Greer called Memories of Joan E.
Greer happens to be owner Vicki Cassidy’s father-in-law. His print depicts a view of 1950s Townhead, with the painter Joan Eardley’s studio in the background (as well as Joan Eardley herself outside the studio carrying an easel)
This affectionate tribute to the Eardley was inspired when James saw a couple of Eardley pictures in his son Mark’s framing business.
One of the pictures, an oil painting of a young boy, had lain undiscovered behind a chalk on glass paper study of a little girl in a pink dress for nearly 50 years.
Seeing Eardley’s work up close reminded Greer of the days in which, as a youngster, he used to walk past her Townhead studio every day on his way knowing that Eardley worked there and admiring her work very much, never daring to walk in and introduce himself.

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