Victoria Crowe OBE, DHC, FRSE, MA (RCA), RSA, RSW (b.1945)
Browse & Darby are delighted to present our third solo show of work by the pre-eminent British artist, Victoria Crowe (b. 1945).
Crowe’s beguiling work has earnt her widespread critical acclaim. She is recognised as one of the most significant contemporary painters working in Scotland today, with an impressive and multifaceted career spanning some fifty years. She divides her time between Scotland and Venice, undertaking new projects and continuing to work with seemingly inexhaustible vigour.
This exhibition will include a series of new paintings completed by Crowe in Venice, Edinburgh and the small Scottish town of West Linton, situated just south of the capital. There will also be a number of works on paper relating to two major projects which have occupied the artist’s attention since 2014. Firstly, the preparatory drawings which won her the prestigious commission to design a decorative frieze for the new hall of the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers in the City of London. And secondly, a collection of sketches completed for a collaborative project in which the artist was invited to create an animated backdrop for an operatic performance of Schubert’s lieder ‘Winterreise’, staged at Snape Maltings in Aldeburgh and at the Wigmore Hall in London.
Crowe’s latest paintings, six large canvases in total, draw upon a rich iconography amassed over years spent in the two disparate settings. Whether on the canals of Venice or immersed in the wild outdoors of east Scotland, she produces captivating work of a distinctly lyrical charm continually introducing novel techniques and compositions.
In spite of this innate ingenuity, Crowe’s recent work retains the familiar markers of her hypnagogic style; the ethereal quality of the landscapes, the scenery overlaid with intricate, organic forms, and her characteristically rich and smouldering palette. Elements are lifted directly from her immediate surroundings and seamlessly married to those teased from memory to produce intriguing narratives. Though perplexing at times, the paintings offer a compelling glimpse into Crowe’s fertile imagination. Her work is an ocean of past, present and future emotion and experience, laid bare in luminous shades of amber, crimson, burnt umber and azure blue. Intended meaning is often shrouded in the sheer complexity of the layered forms, and yet it retains clarity of form and expression.
The variety of media represented in this exhibition, ranging from pencil and charcoal, to watercolour, oil and silkscreen, demonstrates Crowe’s versatility as an artist. Furthermore, her preparatory sketches for ‘A Parallel Journey’ and the tapestry design for the Leathersellers’ Dining Hall (measuring a staggering 1.3 x 40 metres) reveal her innately perceptive and sensitive approach. Indeed, the sheer scale of her contribution to both projects and her ambition as a modern painter, show her to be an artist of enduring relevance and tenacity, whose unwavering work ethic has allowed her to produce some of her most beautiful and arresting work to date.
An illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition. All works will be offered for sale.
Victoria Crowe studied at Kingston School of Art from 1961-65 and at the Royal College of Art, London, from 1965-68. At her postgraduate show she was invited by Sir Robin Philipson to teach at Edinburgh College of Art. For 30 years she worked as a part-time lecturer in the School of Drawing and Painting while developing her own artistic practice. Her first one person exhibition, after leaving the Royal College of Art, was in London and she has subsequently gone on to have over 50 solo shows.
She is a member of the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) and the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours (RSW). She has exhibited nationally and internationally and undertaken many important portrait commissions, including RD Laing, Peter Higgs and Jocelyn Bell Burnell. She is represented by Browse and Darby in London, and by The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh. She has received many Bursaries and Research Awards and her work is held in numerous public and private collections worldwide.
In 2000, her exhibition A Shepherd’s Life, consisting of work selected from the 1970s and 80s, was one of the National Galleries of Scotland’s Millennium exhibitions. It received great critical acclaim. The exhibition toured Scotland, and was re-gathered in 2009 for a three month showing at the Fleming Collection, London.
Victoria was awarded an OBE for Services to Art in 2004 and from 2004-7, she was appointed Senior Visiting Scholar at St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge. The resulting work, Plant Memory, was exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 2007 and subsequently toured Scotland. In 2009 she received an Honorary Degree from The University of Aberdeen and in 2010 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
In 2013, Dovecot Studios wove a large-scale tapestry of Victoria’s painting Large Tree Group. This collaborative tapestry was acquired for the National Museums Scotland and became part of an International touring exhibition.
In 2015, Victoria was an invited Artist-in-Residency at Dumfries House, and in 2016 a group of her works were acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland.
Victoria was commissioned by the Worshipfull company of Leathersellers in 2014, to design a 40 metre tapestry for their New Hall in the City of London, which, taking three years to weave, was installed in January 2017. This year has also seen Shubert’s Winterreise, a Parallel Journey a collaboration with opera singer Matthew Rose and pianist Gary Matthewman, performed at The Wigmore Hall in London and The Benjamin Britten Studio at Snape, in which a video of Victoria’s work provided a visual dimension to the song cycle.
In 2018, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is holding a retrospective exhibition of Crowe’s portrait work, which will coincide with an Edinburgh Festival Exhibition of New Paintings at The Scottish Gallery.