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Major Victoria Crowe exhibition opens in Edinburgh
Victoria Crowe - 50 Years of Painting at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh. Photo by Duncan McGlynn.

EDINBURGH.- Edinburgh’s City Art Centre hosts the first major study to showcase the esteemed career of one of the UK’s leading artists, Victoria Crowe.

Embracing every aspect of Crowe’s practice, the exhibition features over 150 pieces, stemming from youthful student paintings which laid the foundation of her career to the assured landscapes and portraits of recent years. Drawing from 50 solo exhibitions, 50 Years of Painting traces the rise of this exceptional artist, from early beginnings in which we catch glimpses of riches to come, through the highs and lows of her personal and professional life played out on canvas and paper, to recent years, where the cold light of a winter’s day in the Scottish Borders or the heat of a Venetian sunset still echo Crowe’s appreciation of early Renaissance and North European Painting.

The exhibition is displayed throughout the City Art Centre, spanning four gallery floors and is presented as part of Edinburgh Art Festival 2019. Each floor has its own distinctive colour key complementing the content of the work. A new film has been commissioned which sets the scene for visitors, giving them a personal glimpse into the artist’s practice to accompany the exhibition.

As one of Britain’s most distinguished painters, Victoria Crowe needs little introduction. Over a long, illustrious career, she has established herself as an artist whose work is instantly recognisable. Her oeuvre embraces many different concepts and art forms – she is skilled at portraiture, landscape and still life, and moves effortlessly between painting, printmaking and designing for tapestries, and most recently a collaboration with Matthew Rose for a performance of Winterreise, and with the composer Thea Musgrave.

Victoria Crowe said: “This exhibition spans a long period of my work as an artist — a chance to see the threads of ideas and their development over time. The exhibition will trace many concerns in the work, from starting points in sketch books through to finished works, commissions and the fruits of recent residences. As a gallery, the City Art Centre has been very supportive of Scottish artists, as its collection confirms, and I am delighted to be holding this major retrospective within their galleries.”

Councillor Donald Wilson, Edinburgh’s Convener of Culture and Communities said: “Victoria Crowe is one of the most respected artists of her generation and the City Art Centre will proudly host the first major study of her work.

“Visitors will be able to discover early pieces produced by the artist as a student and as a lecturer for the Edinburgh College of Art. They will be able to discover Crowe’s instantly recognisable portraits and landscapes, including her series exploring the changing seasons and colours of the Pentland Hills – scenes which have become so synonymous with Edinburgh and with Scottish art.

“Lifting the lid on Crowe’s 50-year career, we will showcase over 150 pieces across four floors. It will be the highlight exhibition of 2019.”

Crowe was born in Kingston-on-Thames in 1945. She studied at Kingston School of Art and then at the Royal College of Art in London. In 1968, Robin Philipson, then Head of the School of Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh College of Art, invited her to join his staff. Her appointment at the age of twenty-three marked the start of a distinguished teaching career spanning thirty years. In 1969 she had her first solo show in London, and the following year at the Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh. Since then she has been exhibiting regularly throughout the United Kingdom.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, membership of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour, and her election as an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy and of the Royal Watercolour Society reflected the esteem in which she was held by her peers. She has been the worthy recipient of numerous awards, bursaries, scholarships and residencies including the Sir William Gillies Bequest award and the prestigious Senior Visiting Scholar to St Catherine’s College, Cambridge.

In 2000 her exhibition ‘A Shepherd’s Life. Paintings of Jenny Armstrong’ was displayed in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. It was a landmark event in the artist’s career. The public response to her paintings of Pentland Hills’ shepherdess Jenny Armstrong was overwhelming. The exhibition subsequently toured to seven further UK venues.

By the turn of the new century, Crowe had already become one of the most respected portraitists of her generation. Early portraits included the eminent psychoanalyst Dr Winifred Rushforth (1982), poet Kathleen Raine (1984) and Member of Parliament Tam Dalyell (1987). Since then commissions have been frequent, ranging from a double portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch (2016) to Professor Peter Higgs (2013). And in 2018, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery unveiled Victoria’s most recent portrait, of HRH Prince Charles.

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