Elizabeth Blackadder: An Art Exhibition. A Review

by giselletellstales

Exhibited at the Scottish National Gallery until 2nd January 2012


This exhibition marks Blackadder’s art career, beginning with her intense charcoal drawings in her student days in Italy; to her amazing way with watercolour, producing pictures of nature – birds, fruits, cats, orchids, irises – with the most glowing results.

It is apparent that she has a highly energetic analysis of the world. Her keen attention to the fine details is what I love best. She portrays a harsh, cold scene in her early painting of a winter landscape at Assisi in Italy. I truly admired the subtle way she enhanced the picture with the texture of her oils – the fluff on a cloud, and in a separate painting “Church on Brittany”, the embossed ridges on a chimney.

She is harmonious with her use of colour in “Church at Treguer” and in her various paintings of still life, a theme of which she eventually settles on.  Her contrast of colour and movement is evident within “Grey Table with Easter Eggs”. It is a careful analysis and portrayal of space between objects on a table surface. Just brilliant.

She is bold at times, particularly with her use of colour in certain Japanese paintings, emerging with a striking result in a burst of red. There is a contrast all the time within this radical approach. There is domestic peace and happiness, and a sense of looking in, with the viewer somewhat peering privately into another person’s life. Within “Tulips & Indian Painting”, it is honed with atmosphere and drama. She paints the drabness of the wallpaper and peppers it with life all throughout – an image of a living plant, a burst of bloom and Indian musicians.

Her travels developed and inspired her artistic approach. She collected trinkets during her travels – an ornament, a decorated box – which also found their way into her work.

Notable of all her watercolour paintings were of Orchids (1988-89) which displays her immensely observant eye, her (bearded) Irises and Exotic Fruits. In the latter she portrays the fruits atis (sugar-apple) and mangosteen, native to where I grew up. It was a delight to discover this. Here is an image of only the two fruits:

Photo credits:

First image – Allposters.co.uk

Second image – Royal Academy of Arts

Third image – Mcgillduncangallery.com

Fourth image – Mutualart.com