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Elizabeth Blackadder 5th Aug - 3rd Sept 2011

01/ Japanese Fan Pencil & Watercolour 9 x 10.5 cms

Foreword Guy Peploe

Elizabeth Blackadder is an entirely private person who appears in the limelight against all instinct. She has a sense of duty which takes her a long way into the public arena which she acknowledges and respects, but this has nothing to do with what she does. The honours have come to her studio door in a lavish succession: honourary degrees, august memberships, books and finally her Damehood. This year, which sees her eightieth birthday, is honoured by a retrospective organized by the National Galleries of Scotland and, of course, a show of new work at The Scottish Gallery for The Festival. She showed here first in 1951 and over the decades and alongside her husband John Houston who died in 2009, she has been a consistent presence in a relationship of mutual respect and friendship unusual in the stormy waters of the commercial art world. The calm, apparently seamless progress of her career (surely a misnomer for the creative process!) should not surprise us: there is contained in her work a sense of equilibrium from which her astonishing virtuosity can flourish. She has never painted to please but nor has she reacted in her work against an accusation of complacency which often dogs the successful artist. She has simply and quietly got on with it.

What McTaggart called the ‘good habit’, the routine of studio practice which provides the structure for creativity, has sustained Blackadder, particularly since the loss of John and once again she has provided a startling, broad and brilliant new body of work. We can survey the work in the studio and now on the walls of The Scottish Gallery and wonder at the exoticism of much of her subject matter. Interiors are draped with Indian patterned cloth or a sumptuous kimono hangs behind still lives of a magpie cornucopia. Melons, round or oval rough or smooth, Indian sweets in the form of fish, wrappers and boxes that have caught her eye in a foreign market and found their way into the treasuretrove of her studio are placed and -fixed in her subtle compositions. As the flowers from her garden come into full bloom they are captured in watercolour in perfect conversation with each other across the picture plane: not a mark out of place or redundant. The wash drawings she made to illustrate Alan Spence’s haiku are as eloquent as the more elaborate compositions which are their own sonnets. She can be seen as a national treasure and an inspiration, true to her friends, always surprising and the perfect illustration of how the quiet voice will be heard longest.




Watermelon and Squash on Marbletop Oil on Canvas 71 x 91 cms

Fruit on a Red Table Oil on Canvas 41 x 51 cms

Melon, Figs and Shell Oil on Canvas 30.5 x 40.5 cms



Salute, Venice Coloured etching 22 x 24.5 cms

Salute, Venice in a Thunderstorm Oil on Canvas 41 x 51 cms




Still Life with Gloves Oil on Canvas 51 x 61 cms

Gloves and Dragonfruit Oil on Canvas 40.5 x 46 cms

Sweet Fish and Avacado Oil on Canvas 51 x 61 cms




Lobsters, Crabs and Prawns Watercolour 69 x 59.5 cms

Lobsters Watercolour 23 x 32 cms

Prawns Pencil & Watercolour 23 x 39.5 cms



Roses and Blue Vase Watercolour 39.5 x 34.5 cms

Seedheads and Leaf Watercolour 79 x 51.5 cms





Amaryllis Watercolour 47.5 x 40 cms

Green Orchid Watercolour 48 x 39 cms

Tigridia Paeonia Watercolour 56.5 x 79 cms

Mixed Tulips lll Watercolour 52 x 64.5 cms




Mixed Irises Watercolour 52 x 50 cms

Irises Watercolour 56.5 x 79 cms

Mostly Tulips Watercolour 56 x 79 cms




Gladioli Oil on Canvas 101 x 76 cms

Squash and Avacados Oil on Canvas 25 x 35.5 cms

Fruit and Striped Cloth Oil on Canvas 25 x 35.5 cms




Kimono Oil on Canvas 91 x 122 cms

Kimono and Chopsticks Watercolour 22.5 x 25 cms

Dragonfruit Watercolour 21.5 x 29.5 cms




Japanese Plate and Wooden Fruit Oil on Canvas 76 x 101.5 cms

Mango, Fruit and Persian Soldier Oil on Canvas 25 x 30.5 cms

Lilies Oil on Canvas 91.5 x 70.5 cms




Still Life with Flowers Oil on Canvas 76 x 101 cms

Fruit and Bottle Oil on Canvas 20 x 30 cms

Squash and Gold Jug on Red Table Oil on Canvas 25.5 x 35.5 cms




Lobsters with Shrimps, Mussels, Oysters and Scallop Watercolour 56 x 67.5 cms

Prawns and Feather Watercolour 30 x 35 cms

Fish and Crustacea Watercolour 58 x 42 cms



Japanese Boxes and Watermelon Oil on Canvas 51 x 61 cms

Spanish Plate and Ribbon Oil on Canvas 51 x 61 cms



Lilies and Mixed Flowers Watercolour 80 x 59 cms

Poppies Watercolour 62 x 49.5 cms




Mixed Tulips l Watercolour 57 x 78.5 cms

Hellebores Watercolour 30.5 x 40.5 cms

Mixed Tulips ll Watercolour 38 x 61 cms



Crabs and Lobsters Pencil & Watercolour 72 x 59 cms

Crabs Pencil & Watercolour 30.5 x 41 cms




Louis on a Silk Cushion Oil on Canvas 35.5 x 40.5 cms

Dog on the roof of his kennel Pencil drawing 13 x 9 cms

Two Cats Pencil & Watercolour 15 x 13.5 cms







Screeching Peacock Watercolour 13 x 17 cms

Heron Pencil & Watercolour 15 x 10.5 cms

Chirping Birds Pencil & Watercolour 7 x 14 cms

Bees Pencil & Watercolour 10.5 x 13.5 cms

Fox Pencil & Watercolour 6 x 11.5 cms

Nightingale Pencil & Watercolour 7.5 x 14 cms







Pine Tree Watercolour 10 x 15 cms

Origami Fish Watercolour 5.5 x 19.5 cms

Empty Bottle Washed Up Pencil & Watercolour 9 x 14 cms

Iris Coloured Pencil Drawing 27.5 x 25 cms

Chinese Temple Pencil & Watercolour 15 x 11 cms

Morning Glory Watercolour 21 x 15 cms

Elizabeth Blackadder Biography



1931 1949-54

Aberdeen Art Gallery Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal Argyll City Council Bolton Central Museum and Art Gallery Carlisle Museum and Art Gallery Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery Dundee Museum and Art Gallery Edinburgh City Art Centre Eastbourne,Towner Art Gallery Glasgow Museum and Art Gallery Government Art Collection Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh Hove Museum and Art Gallery Huddersfield Art Gallery Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery McNay Art Museum, San Antonio Middlesbrough Art Gallery Museum of Modern Art, New York National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC National Portrait Gallery, London Paisley Art Gallery Perth Museum and Art Gallery Reading Museum and Art Gallery Robert Fleming Holdings Royal Bank of Scotland Royal Edinburgh Hospital Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh Scottish Arts Council Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Scottish National Portrait Gallery Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery Tate Gallery, London University of Cambridge, Kettle's Yard University of Edinburgh University of Glasgow, Hunterian Art Gallery University of St Andrews University of Stirling Victoria & Albert Museum, London West Riding County Museum Wustum Museum, Racine, Wisconsin

Born Falkirk, Scotland Studied Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art, MA Hons Fine Art 1956 Married John Houston Elected Member of Society of Scottish Artists Elected Member of The Royal Scottish Society 1961 of Painters in Watercolours 1962 Guthrie Award, Royal Scottish Academy 1962-86 Lecturer in drawing and painting, Edinburgh College of Art 1972 Elected Member of The Royal Scottish Academy 1976 Elected Member of The Royal Academy 1982 Awarded O.B.E. 1983 Elected Member of The Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts Pimms Award for Work on Paper, Royal Academy 1985 First visit to Japan 1987 Portrait of Mollie Hunter commissioned by The Scottish National Portrait Gallery Portrait of Naomi Mitchison purchased by National Portrait Gallery, London 1988 Watercolour Foundation joint winner Royal Academy 1989-2001 Honorary Doctorates, DLitt, Heriot Watt University, University of Edinburgh, University of Aberdeen, University of Strathclyde, University of Glasgow 2001 Appointed Her Majesty's Painter and Limner in Scotland 2002 Honorary Doctorate, University of Stirling 2003 Honorary Doctorate, St. Andrews University Made a Dame of the British Empire, DBE EXHIBITIONS AT PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS 1977 1981

Middlesborough Art Gallery Scottish Arts Council Retrospective Touring Exhibition: Edinburgh, Sheffield Aberdeen, Liverpool, Cardiff, London 1989 Welsh Arts Council Retrospective Touring Exhibition: Aberystwyth, Brighton, Bangor, Cardiff, Bath, Lancaster 1992 D.L.I. Museum, Durham, Retrospective Exhibition 1999 Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh 1999-2001 Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh 2001 University of Edinburgh, Talbot Rice Gallery, Festival Exhibition 2011 National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ Telephone 0131 558 1200 All works are for sale on receipt of this catalogue. ISBN 978-1-905146-58-1 Photography by Forth Photography Designed by Nevis

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