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VICTORIA CROWE Light on the Landscape


VICTORIA CROWE Light on the Landscape 5-29 October 2016 2 introduction 6 return

journey 18 dumfries house 42 snow falling 52 monoprints and editions 74 biography

16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ tel 0131 558 1200 email mail@scottish-gallery.co.uk www.scottish-gallery.co.uk

cover Against the Light, Clarity, 2015/2016, monoprint, 47 x 66 cms (detail), (cat. 32) left Moonlight, 2015, oil & mixed media, 31 x 31 cms (detail), (cat. 23)


LIGHT ON THE LANDSCAPE I can’t choose the season To depart from this place I won’t delay or ponder I must begin my journey now The bright moon lights my path It will guide me on my road I see the snow-covered meadow I see where deer have trod Franz Schubert, Die Winterreise, Chapter 2, Good Night, 1829 In the finals stanzas of Wilhelm Muller‘s poem a hurdy-gurdy man puts the wandering anti-hero’s words and thoughts to music presaging Schubert’s interpretation completed a few years after the poems. Many artists from Poussin to Caspar David Friedrich to Mark Rothko have tried to reconcile the still image to a narrative, the fixed viewpoint to a journey, both real and psychological, to allow a single image to contain symbolism without being a mere set of symbols, to imbue a series of works with the development of atmosphere and emotion equivalent to music, an engagement that Victoria Crowe understands profoundly. Victoria Crowe locates much of this new body of work in the transitory moments between light and dark, in the dusky palette of half light when colour is transformed, intensified by the diminishing light perfectly exemplified in Twilight, Deeper Shade (cat. 14). Her dusk is a metaphor for stillness and with the pause it creates, we wonder: shall we step on into the unfamiliar or retreat to the comfort of our firesides? As the hour turns so does the day and the season so that our contemplation must turn to joy and loss, to life and death. The catalogue and exhibition are prefaced with a few paintings made in Edinburgh and Midlothian where the pattern of branches seen from the studio window, bare in the winter, stark against snow or a frosty hillside, form an organic craquelure. In Spring Shift (cat. 4) the promise of regeneration is there in the thaw of blue to gold as the sap rises, while Trees in the Snow (cat. 3) relies only on faith that the seasons will turn to comfort the soul in front of the still, implacable hold of winter. Crowe carried these preoccupations from her home and studio in West Linton to a residency at Dumfries House. She was the guest of the Royal Drawing School, who administer the spaces and whose patron HRH Prince Charles took an intense interest in her response to a place so dear to his heart. She walked the grounds at dusk, contemplated the trees through moonlight and experienced the turning of the seasons. She occupied one of four purpose-built studios firstly in February and then again in early April and was able to revisit her subject in the changed angles of light brought by spring.

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The different experiences she had led to work in a variety of techniques. Some small scale works on paper were completed on the spot, immediate responses to a transitory subject (cat. 8-10) the only sound the urgent scratching of her brush, the spell of suspended stillness only broken as she retreated with her prize stowed in her rucksack. One of her early, strong impressions was of two trees while other drawings captured the changing interior light with tones and washes. These became the basis for a set of monoprints, made with the collaboration of Robert Adam at Graal Press, starting with drawings on acetate before the multiple application of silkscreen. Another group of mixed media works began with a mono image of the twisted willow on a hillside, the horizon near the top, subjected to layered working depicting snow, thaw, clear frost and evening (cat. 24-27). These series wherein a formal repetition is enhanced or partially obliterated acts like the stanzas of a poem, inviting a narrative interpretation without losing the enigmatic, individual nature of each image and again echoing the emotional crescendo in Schubert’s lieder. Crowe’s current engagement with landscape is at once spontaneous and deeply considered. Her technical mastery is put to full use across oil, gouache, watercolour, monoprint, intaglio and screen-printing. Within each traditional method she makes innovations so that the description ‘mixed media’ is truly appropriate. This exhibition, which has a particular emotional and physical location, will be the last opportunity to see a significant body of work before the momentous 2018 she has planned with a Festival time exhibition with The Scottish Gallery and a retrospective survey of her portraiture at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Next year will see a collaboration with the operatic singer Matthew Rose. The presentation of Winterreise will be accompanied by a video display of Crowe’s paintings, chosen to complement each verse in the song cycle. The concert will be performed at the Wigmore Hall in London and The Benjamin Britten studio at Snape. 2017 also sees the unveiling of The Leathersellers Tapestry for the Company’s new hall in the City of London. This 40 metre tapestry was designed by Victoria Crowe and woven by Dovecot Studios. GUY PEPLOE September 2016

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Dumfries House in Winter. Photograph: Garry Robertson 4


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Painting is a journey into the unknown, a paradigm for life’s journey, but for the artist each work might be a reference point for a particular, new direction; something: a mark, a colour relationship, the conjunction of complementary intellectual ideas (interior exterior), will suggest the way forward. Winter Caveat (cat. 1), made in the winter of 2010-11, depicting the bare snowy garden, the screen of branches of the twisted willow and the glowing panels of recreated sketchbook pages framing the exterior, was such a work for Victoria Crowe and led inevitably to this current body of work. The repetition of these motifs in linked paintings led to the explicit connection to Schubert in Winterreise, 2014 (cat. 5) and the unifying theme which emerged in her most recent work illustrated in the proceeding pages. GUY PEPLOE September 2016

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RETURN JOURNEY

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1 Winter Caveat, 2010-11 oil on linen, 127 x 127 cms exhibited Victoria Crowe, Ti Sorprendo, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, 2012, p.12 illustrated Victoria Crowe by Duncan Macmillan, Antique Collectors’ Club Ltd, 2012, p.156 8


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2 Numinous Tree, 2010 oil on panel, 71 x 76 cms exhibited Victoria Crowe, Reflection, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, 2010, cat. 2; Flora Depicta, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, 2016, cat. 16 provenance Private Collection, London 10


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3 Trees in the Snow, 2011 oil on handmade paper, 52 x 73.5 cms exhibited Victoria Crowe, Ti Sorprendo, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, 2012, p.15 illustrated Victoria Crowe by Duncan Macmillan, Antique Collectors’ Club Ltd, 2012, p.148 12


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4 Spring Shift, c.2011 oil on linen, 127.5 x 114.5 cms exhibited Four Women Artists: Victoria Crowe - A Private Collection, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, 2015, cat. 22 provenance Private Collection, Scottish Borders 14


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5 Winterreise, 2014 mixed media, 31.5 x 102 cms 16


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Shifting Evening Light I spent three weeks during February and April 2015 as an invited artist on a residency at Dumfries House. At that time I had been working on a series of paintings exploring the nature of twilight on the land, so the residency was not only an extension of that concern, but a chance to observe a fairly contained landscape intimately throughout 24 hrs. The studios are situated in the middle of hardwoods and Wellingtonias, with views on to the rest of the parkland and forested areas. Due to the close proximity of the landscape, I became immersed in its differing aspects and moods during the changing winter light of those short February days. During the April part of the residency, I spent more time watching the strengthening daylight from dawn onwards and then through to dusk and the luminous nights (there was very little light pollution to come between observer and the clarity of the sky). Some of the evening/night drawings look weird in the sketch books now, everything pulled into a mid-tone, but they lodged the experience firmly in my mind. VICTORIA CROWE August 2016 18


DUMFRIES HOUSE

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6 Night Lights, Thaw, 2015 mixed media on handmade paper, 29 x 49.5 cms 20


7 Two Wellingtonias, Moonlight Behind, 2015 acrylic & ink, 16.5 x 11.5 cms 21


8 Early Morning Towards the Studio, 2015 watercolour, 29 x 22 cms 22

9 Backlit, 2015 acrylic & ink, 16.5 x 11.5 cms


10 Forest at Night, 2015 acrylic, 13 x 10 cms 23


11 Golden Alto, 2015 mixed media on museum board, 94 x 118 cms 24


12 Against Setting Sun, 2015 acrylic & ink, 30.5 x 38 cms 26


13 Light Between Trees, 2015 mixed media, 17 x 17 cms 27


14 Twilight, Deeper Shade, 2015 oil on museum board, 68.5 x 99 cms 28


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15 From Day to Evening, 2015 acrylic & ink, 56 x 76 cms 30


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16 Wellingtonias, Dusk, 2015 mixed media, 29 x 39 cms 32


17 Shifting Evening Light, April, 2015 oil & mixed media on paper, 25.5 x 48 cms 33


18 Quiet Evening, 2015 mixed media, 17 x 17 cms 34


19 First Drawing, Dumfries House, 2015 acrylic & ink on handmade paper 31.5 x 43 cms 35


20 Pine by the Arboretum, 2015 watercolour & ink on pumice primed paper, 49.5 x 40.5 cms 36


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21 Towering, February Light, 2015 mixed media on handmade paper on museum board, 94 x 57 cms 38


22 Studio Interior, 2016 mixed media on conservation board, 35.5 x 51 cms 39


23 Moonlight, 2015 oil & mixed media, 31 x 31 cms 40


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SNOW FALLING

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24 Snow Falling, Mesmeric, 2016 mixed media, 56 x 76 cms 44


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25 Clear Frost Light, 2016 mixed media, 56 x 76 cms 46


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26 Winter Sun, Thaw, 2016 mixed media, 56 x 76 cms 48


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27 Shades of Evening, 2016 mixed media, 56 x 76 cms 50


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While I was at Dumfries House, I made some large ink drawings on acetate which became the basis for a series of monoprints, which I made with the assistance of Robert Adam at Graal Press. I didn’t want to do an edition of identical images, but to produce single, unique prints exploring a variety of light sources, moods and atmosphere on a particular landscape image. The key drawing of the tree line and several other tonal and wash drawings which built up density in the landscape and sky, were each transferred onto separate silkscreens. By varying the colour, tone, opacity and order of printing, I was able to work through a range of ideas about the changing, powerful and fleeting aspects of that landscape. VICTORIA CROWE August 2016 52


MONOPRINTS AND EDITIONS

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28 Against the Light, Pewter Shade, 2015/2016 monoprint, 57 x 68 cms 54


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29 Against the Light, Reversed Silver, 2015/2016 monoprint, 57 x 68 cms 56


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30 Against the Light, Deeper Twilight, 2015/2016 monoprint, 57 x 67 cms 58


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31 Against the Light, Sonorous Sky, 2015/2016 monoprint, 57 x 68 cms 60


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32 Against the Light, Clarity, 2015/2016 monoprint, 47 x 66 cms 62


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33 Against the Light, Diffuse, 2015/2016 monoprint, 47 x 66 cms 64


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34 Against the Light, Warmer Change, 2015/2016 monoprint, 57 x 67 cms 66


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35 Against the Light, Clear Sky, 2015/2016 monoprint, 57 x 61 cms 68


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36 Solstice, Trees and Ice, 2012 collograph and intaglio, 50 x 40 cms, edition of 30 exhibited Victoria Crowe, Ti Sorprendo, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, 2012, p.69 70


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37 Winter Garden, 2012 silkscreen, 76 x 84 cms, edition of 40 72


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VICTORIA CROWE

OBE, DHC, FRSE, MA (RCA), RSA, RSW (B.1945) VICTORIA CROWE studied at Kingston School of Art from 1961-65 and then at the Royal College of Art, London, from 1965-68. At her postgraduate show she was invited by Sir Robin Philipson to teach at Edinburgh College of Art. For 30 years she worked as a part-time lecturer in the School of Drawing and Painting while developing her own artistic practice. She is a member of the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) and the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours (RSW). She has shown widely throughout the UK and in particular with The Scottish Gallery since 1970. She has undertaken many important portrait commissions and beyond this her work is held in numerous public and private collections worldwide. In 2000 her exhibition A Shepherd’s Life, consisting of work collected from the 1970s and 80s, was one of the National Galleries of Scotland’s Millennium exhibitions. It received great critical acclaim. The exhibition was subsequently re-gathered in 2009 for a three month showing at the Fleming Collection, London. Victoria was awarded an OBE for Services to Art in 2004 and from 2004-07 was a senior visiting scholar at St Catherine’s College, Cambridge. The resulting body of work, Plant Memory, was exhibited at the RSA in 2007 and subsequently toured Scotland. In 2009 she received an Honorary Degree from The University of Aberdeen and in 2010 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Dovecot Studios wove a large-scale tapestry of Large Tree Group in 2013 from the Shepherd’s Life series, which was acquired for the National Museums Scotland and became part of a national touring exhibition. In 2015, a group of works by the artist were acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland. Next year will see a collaboration with the operatic singer Matthew Rose. The presentation of Winterreise will be accompanied by a video display of Victoria’s paintings, chosen to complement each verse in the song cycle. The concert will be performed at the Wigmore Hall in London and The Benjamin Britten studio at Snape. 2017 also sees the unveiling of The Leathersellers Tapestry for the Company’s new hall in the City of London. In 2018, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is hosting an exhibition of Victoria’s portrait work, which will coincide with a Festival Exhibition of new paintings at The Scottish Gallery.

right Victoria Crowe, September 2016. Photograph: Kenneth Gray 74


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Published by The Scottish Gallery to coincide with the exhibition VICTORIA CROWE Light on the Landscape 5-29 October 2016 Exhibition can be viewed online at www.scottish-gallery.co.uk/victoriacrowe ISBN: 978-1-91067-46-2 Designed by Kenneth Gray, www.kennethgray.co.uk Photography by Andy Phillipson, www.livewireimage.com Dumfries House image by Garry Robertson, www.garryrobertson.co.uk Printed by J Thomson Colour Printers All rights reserved. No part of this catalogue may be reproduced in any form by print, photocopy or by any other means, without the permission of the copyright holders and of the publishers.

16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ tel 0131 558 1200 email mail@scottish-gallery.co.uk www.scottish-gallery.co.uk

right Golden Alto, 2015, mixed media on museum board, 94 x 118 cms (detail), (cat. 11) 76



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