Collecting Joan Eardley

As part of the Joan Eardley (1921-63) centenary celebrations, I am delighted to be giving a keynote presentation ‘From the Highlands to Hampshire: The Collecting of Joan Eardley’ at the Joan Eardley New Perspectives on-line symposium on 2 June 2021, organised by Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD).

Joan Eardley (1921-63), Brian and Pat Samson, undated, oil and collage on board
On loan to the Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries and Galloway Council, from the Walker family (c) Estate of Joan Eardley

JOAN EARDLEY (1921-63)

Eardley was born in Sussex and moved to Glasgow in 1940. She trained at Glasgow School of Art and at Hospitalfield College of Art. After time spent in Italy thanks to travelling scholarships, Eardley established a studio in Glasgow’s Townhead district. It was in this area that she began making the images of local children for which she is celebrated, including Brian and Pat Samson (see above). This painting is on long-loan to Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries from the family of Eardley’s friend, the photographer Audrey Walker (1910-96).

Joan Eardley (1921-63), Field of Barley by the Sea, undated, oil on board
The Fleming Collection, London (c) The Estate of Joan Eardley


From 1954, Eardley spent increasing amounts of time in Catterline, a fishing-village on the Scotland’s north-east coast. It was here that she made her equally celebrated images of the land- and seascape of her surroundings, in all weathers and at all times of day and night. This can be seen in her Field of Barley by the Sea in The Fleming Collection (see above). Eardley died, aged forty-two, in Glasgow in 1963.


The New Perspectives symposium has been organised by Dr Helen Gørrill, a Lecturer in Contemporary Art Practice at DJCAD. She is the author of Women Can’t Paint: Gender, The Glass Ceiling and Values in Contemporary Art, which was published by Bloomsbury last year. I shall be talking about how works by Eardley have been acquired for public collections throughout the UK, from Inverness Museum & Art Gallery in the Highlands, to the National Trust property Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire. Eardley’s paintings feature in thirty-six public collections throughout the UK, so my talk will be a tour of the country as well as a discussion of this important artist’s oeuvre. Free tickets can be booked here.

Centenary Celebrations

The New Perspectives symposium is one of many celebrations of the centenary of Eardley’s birth in 1921 (#Eardley100). Details of many of them can be found on the new SWARN (Scottish Women and the Arts Research Network) website (#SWARN). A new website dedicated to Eardley’s work and legacy has been set up and can be found here.

I do hope you can join me for my paper ‘From the Highlands to Hampshire: The Collecting of Joan Eardley’!

For more on Joan Eardley, you could try my blogs ‘Harvest Time‘ and ‘School’s Out for Summer‘. She also features in my Art UK curationA Dozen Modern Scottish Women Artists You Should Know!‘.

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