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Documenting Life - Joan Eardley exhibition at Stranraer Museum

Eardley was born in Warnham, Sussex, of Anglo-Scottish parents. She first studied art at Goldsmith's College in London for one year before returning with her family to her mother's home near Glasgow after her father died. She attended the Glasgow School of Art from 1940-3 studying under renowned tutor Hugh Adam Crawford who commented of his student: 'to teach Joan was a joy'. In 1947 she spent some months at Hospitalfield, a residential college for talented art students, under artist James Cowie, returning to Glasgow School of Art in 1943 to take up a post-Diploma scholarship. In 1948-9 she travelled in Italy and France and the resulting sketches and paintings were exhibited at her first one-man show at Glasgow in 1949. During the early 1950s Eardley devoted much time to the depressed areas of Glasgow, making sketches and photographs, which were worked up into larger oils. Some of her most haunting and perceptive portraits of Glasgow's poor children date to this period.

In 1950 she began to paint at Catterline, a tiny cliff-top village near Aberdeen taking up semi-residence there in 1956. She painted powerful seascapes and landscapes with expressive brushwork and thick paint conveying the force of the sea and wind. She had achieved a great deal of success with her art, showing in galleries in Scotland and London and she was elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 1963. Sadly, later that same year an undiagnosed cancer caused her death at the age of just 42.

Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries is very fortunate in having a significant Eardley collection. Thirty two of the artist's works are held in the permanent collection and these are now on show as part of the Stranraer Museum exhibition. The exhibition also includes some original photographs of Eardley at work taken by her friend Audrey Walker.

The exhibition runs from Saturday 5 May to 2 June and admission is free.