The National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh are holding an exhibition at the moment called A Sense Of Place. It focuses on Joan Eardley’s work from two particular locations – Glasgow and the village of Catterline.
It’s an astounding exhibition, featuring items loaned from public and private collections far and wide. The Glasgow pieces, possibly her most famous work, are amazing. Capturing the children of the tenements and the world they inhabit. But it’s the Catterline rooms which stopped me in my tracks.
I lived in Catterline from the age of 8 until I was 18. Those are some important years I spent there. Our house was built in a new street behind the path on the cliffs to the old coastguard watchhouse which used to act as Eardley’s studio (one of three houses in the village she used). I am very, very familiar with the locations, subjects, and weather which Joan painted and the places she captured them from.
To see images of the pier which we used to jump off, the sea stack we used to climb and the cliffs we spent years roaming on large scale canvas taking up entire rooms of the National Gallery is breathtaking. It provoked a lot of powerful emotion and memories for me.
When I got home I tried to parse some of those thoughts and emotions into a poem called – A Sense Of Place, which you can hear in the reading below.
The tagline on the National Galleries website is “Art that inspires”. In this exhibition they certainly achieved that.