New exhibitions unveiled

National Galleries to exhibit Turner and Eardley

Loch Coruisk, Skye, 1831-4 by J M W Turner

The National Galleries in Edinburgh has unveiled its programme for next year which will include exhibitions of the works of JMW Turner, Joan Eardley and the surrealists.

New Year’s Day at the Scottish National Gallery will be marked as usual by the opening of Turner in January: The Vaughan Bequest, an annual display of works by the artist Joseph Mallord William Turner.

A collection by one of the great masters of British painting was bequeathed to the Gallery in 1900 by Henry Vaughan, a London art collector with a passion for Turner and a connoisseur’s eye for quality.

Vaughan stipulated that the 38 works – which encapsulates the artist’s entire career – could not be subjected to permanent display, since continual exposure to light would result in their fading. Instead, these precious works were to be exhibited to the public “all at one time, free of charge, during the month of January”, when daylight in Edinburgh is at its lowest levels.

Faithfully following Vaughan’s request, all of the works will be exhibited and Turner in January runs throughout the month, providing a welcome injection of light and colour during the darkest month of the year.

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery (PPL), said: “This is the fourth year that players of PPL have supported Turner in January at the Scottish National Gallery, and we’re thrilled – even as relative newcomers in the grand scheme of things – to be involved in such an established tradition.”

René Magritte, La reproduction interdite, 1937

Next year has an international flavour at the National Galleries, with the three summer exhibitions being organised in collaboration with major European and American institutions, including the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Hamburger Kunsthalle. Each of these exhibitions – Inspiring Impressionism: Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh; Surreal Encounters; and Facing the World: Self-Portraits from Rembrandt to Ai Weiwei – will have its only UK showing in Edinburgh.

Among the other highlights of the programme, and closer to home, autumn 2016 will see the opening of a new exhibition which explores the working methods of Joan Eardley, one of Scotland’s greatest twentieth century artists, by drawing upon a remarkable and largely unknown archive of her drawings and photographs.

Joan Eardley’s career lasted barely 15 years: she died in 1963, aged just 43. During that time she concentrated on two very different themes: the extraordinarily candid paintings of children in the Townhead area of Glasgow; and paintings of the fishing village of Catterline, just south of Aberdeen, with its leaden skies and wild sea. These two contrasting strands will be the focus of this exhibition, which will look in detail at Eardley’s working process. It will draw on a remarkable archive of sketches and photographs which remains largely unknown and unpublished.

Eardley made literally thousands of working drawings, some of them slight sketches, while others are resolved pastel drawings, sometimes done on sheets of sandpaper. She also made hundreds of photographs, mainly of children playing in the street outside her studio, and commissioned a friend, Audrey Walker, to make photographs of specific sites, to aid her in her work.

The Catterline paintings likewise develop from rough pastel sketches, many of them never previously exhibited. Many of these unpublished sketches and photographs come from a remarkable archive, donated to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art by Eardley’s sister, Pat Black, in 1984.

Fragile testaments to Eardley’s working procedure, they will be specially conserved and presented for this exhibition, where they will be seen for the first time.

The exhibition, which will open at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art on 3 December, will also feature many loans from public and private collections, allowing the viewer to trace specific developments between the photographs, the drawings and the finished paintings.

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