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Exhibitions

Collector’s eye

To celebrate Elizabeth Blackadder’s 80th birthday, the Scottish National Gallery is staging a landmark retrospective (until 2 January 2012) spanning the last six decades of the artist’s career.

20 August 2011

12:00 AM

20 August 2011

12:00 AM

To celebrate Elizabeth Blackadder’s 80th birthday, the Scottish National Gallery is staging a landmark retrospective (until 2 January 2012) spanning the last six decades of the artist’s career.

To celebrate Elizabeth Blackadder’s 80th birthday, the Scottish National Gallery is staging a landmark retrospective (until 2 January 2012) spanning the last six decades of the artist’s career.


Blackadder is best known for her vibrant still-lives of the Sixties, a time when most of her contemporaries were experimenting with Pop and Abstract Expressionism. Influenced by her passion for collecting and for fastidious attention to detail, she has spent a lifetime popularising and successfully re-inventing the genre.

Blackadder’s prolific body of work reveals that she treats all her subjects — from a vase to a cat or flower — with the same rigorous study (‘Still-life with Iris’, 2000, above). She often scratches into thick oil with the end of her brush to give more detail and, by leaving a negative, white space around them as if they were a painting within another, she highlights some of the most seemingly banal objects.

The exhibition includes an entire room dedicated to works inspired by Japan and ‘exotic’ objects. This sheds new light on Blackadder’s creative use of perspective, which is often flat or from a birds-eye view, and explains why some of her arrangements often resemble a cabinet of curiosities.

Blackadder’s work exemplifies the beauty and importance of observing and studying from life, and her latest work is as energetic as ever: happy birthday, Dame Elizabeth!


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