Mon, 21 Oct 2019
50 Years to Make

Victoria Crowe in Edinburgh


Above: Reflected Drama, San Giorgio, 2017, oil, 76x91cm

Victoria Crowe's big retrospective at Edinburgh's City Art Centre, 50 Years of Painting, has just finished after a long run over the summer. I must have visited six or more times over the last few months and enjoyed it a lot. An excellent exhibition by an artist I had not really been very aware of before.


Above: Twilight, Venice (detail), oil, 114x102cm

Laid out over three floors in chronological order, we see Crowe's development through the years; early works in the fields of Kittleyknowe (in the Scottish borders) and sometimes featuring her neighbour, the shepherd Jenny Armstrong, to later works of Venice and a more mystical and abstract feel. A slightly different style of art than I'm normally drawn to, but the work grew on me a huge amount as I absorbed it. Her work is as much about our inner landscape as the external world. Something she quotes is her old art teacher Prunella Clough telling her not to "make it real"; to avoid just painting a superficial, realistic representation of te subject. I struggle with this concept in my own painting.

Strong and beautiful colours with amazing surface texture and effects repeated. I spent time trying to understand how some of her technique is done: the way she overlays "print" work (whether photographs, text or other art works), the stencil like patterns and various textures on the paint surfaces.

Some repeated motifs appear, including the Giovanni Bellini Magdalene, a star attraction for me at the National Gallery Mantegna and Bellini exhibition in late 2018. A beautiful portrait of the saint that Crowe lays over (or under) many of her works, sometimes barely seen.

Right: Mantegna and Bellini (catalogue cover detail)

The full painting by Bellini was made in 1490 and is called Madonna and Child between Saints Catherine and Mary Magdalene. See the full painting on wikipedia.


Above: Blue Snow and Fiery Trees, 2011, oil, 101x127cm

Now the exhibition is closed, it feels like a part of the city is missing. On to the next one: Mary Cameron.

Victoria Crowe's home page is here.