Barbara Davis Rae
|Known for||Painting, printmaking|
Rae studied painting at the Edinburgh College of Art from 1961 to 1965. As a student, she worked as a grouse-beater in the Scottish Highlands. "I loved being up there walking the hills, seeing the landscape, drawing it," Rae said in a 2013 interview. "Geography was really important to me and it still plays a huge role in my art." After graduating, Rae received a travel scholarship that allowed her to spend time painting in France and Spain. That experience and her later travel shaped her art, which largely focuses on landscapes. She exhibited in her first solo show in 1967 at the Edinburgh's New 57 Gallery. During her early career, she taught art at Ainslie Park School in Edinburgh (1968–69), Portobello High School (1969-1972), and the Aberdeen College of Education (1972–74). In 1975, she became a lecturer in drawing and painting at the Glasgow School of Art, where she worked until 1996.
During this time, Rae exhibited regularly and received many awards for her artwork. In 1980, she was elected as an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy; she became a full member in 1992. In 1983, she was elected president of the Society of Scottish Artists. She was appointed as a member of the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland in 1995. Rae also became a member of the Royal Academy of Art in 1996. In 1999, she was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She is also a Royal Etcher, a Fellow of the Royal College of Art, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Rae's work is held by institutions including the University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, British Museum, National Museum of Women in the Arts, and Whitworth Art Gallery. The first monograph on her work was in its third printing as of 2013.
Rae has homes in Scotland, Los Angeles, and France and often travels elsewhere in Europe and the southwest United States. She is married to writer and essayist Gareth Wardell.
The Royal Academy of Arts' magazine RA has described Rae's works as "intense colour bursts that evoke dramatic landscapes but remain resolutely abstract", "distil[ling] the colour, light and forms of nature into dazzling visions". Rather than mixing paints on a palette, Rae applies unmixed acrylic paints to the canvas itself and then pours fluid over them to blend them. The bright colors of her paintings and prints diverge from the typical colors of Scottish art. Rae has said that she does not regard herself as a Scottish artist, though her "relationship with the landscape and history of the west coast of Scotland" has inspired much of her art.
Subject matter for her prints tend to the socio-political, her main interest in whatever has been shaped by the hand of man or woman, and weathered by age: an old Irish farmhouse, a door or fence gate, an ancient standing stone, a terrace of vines.
Rae's travel has greatly influenced her art. Beginning in the 1960s, Rae travelled extensively in Spain, Ireland, France, and the southwest United States. These travels "generated a body of work which indicated a deep interest in the history as well as the aesthetics of landscape".
Rae has said of her approach to her subjects, "I'm not interested in topographical detail. I need to be able to immerse myself in the culture of a place to create art."
Awards and honors
- Scottish Arts Council Award (1975)
- Guthrie Medal (Royal Scottish Academy) (1977)
- Scottish Arts Council Award (1981)
- Calouste Gulbenkian Printmaking Award (1983)
- Sir William Gillies Travel Award (Royal Scottish Academy) (1983)
- May Marshall Brown Award (The Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour) (1983)
- Scottish Arts Council grant (1989)
- Hunting Group Prize (1990)
- Alexander Graham Munro Award (The Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour)
- Commander of the Order of the British Empire
- Honorary doctorate, Napier University (2002)
- Honorary doctorate, Aberdeen University
- Honorary fellowship, Royal College of Art (2008)
- Honorary doctorate, University of St Andrews
- Zucca, Damon (2012). Benezit dictionary of British graphic artists and illustrators. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 248–49. ISBN 978-0199923052.
- Greenberg, Sarah (Spring 2010). "Out to lunch: Barbara Rae RA". RA. Royal Academy of Arts. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
- "Barbara Rae RA". Royal Academy of Arts. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
- "Barbara Rae RA". The Stour Gallery. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
- "Book of the Week: Barbara Rae, with texts by her husband Gareth Wardell, Andrew Lambirth and Bill Hare". Lund Humphries. 11 June 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
- "Barbara Rae" (PDF). Glasgow Print Studio. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
- Gareth Wardell; Bill Hare; Andrew Lambirth; Barbara Rae (2008). Barbara Rae. Lund Humphries. ISBN 978-0853319900.
- Richard Cork; Gareth Wardell; Barbara Rae (2011). Barbara Rae: Sketchbooks. Royal Academy of Arts. ISBN 978-1907533105.
- Andrew Lambirth; Gareth Wardell; Barbara Rae (2010). Barbara Rae: Prints. Royal Academy of Arts. ISBN 978-1905711581.