About Joan Eardley

Beehives at Catterline Beehives at Catterline


Joan Eardley is considered to be the most influential Scottish painter of her generation. Her depiction of both the rural and urban sides of Scotland is unique.

The dramatic seascapes of wild winter seas were painted out of doors on the shore or cliff top of Catterline, a small east coast fishing village south of Aberdeen. Eardley loved the ever changing light and weather of this rugged coastline and although many of these large paintings are of the same view they each capture the different mood of a bright evening sunset or a dark approaching storm.

She also portrayed the changing seasons in the fields around the village in heavily layered and textured paint even incorporating real flower heads into the surface.

In total contrast to this expression of nature she also spent periods of time in Glasgow depicting the children and tenements around her Townhead studio.

These powerful drawings and paintings capture the humanity of these poor but vibrant children. Eardley paints them as they are in secondhand clothes, eating a 'piece', playing in the street, the girls looking after their younger siblings. Their relationships and friendships are captured in Eardley's unique style whether in a quick sketch or large painted composition.

Her death from cancer in 1963 at the age of only 42 robbed the world of an outstanding artist at the height of her achievement.