Mull Ferry
By Barbara Rae

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Year
1996
Reg. Number
G1215
Size
105.5 x 88 cm
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'Mull Ferry' sets an abstract scene full of contrasts. The sea dominates the painting. It is dark but appears velvety and still and colourful, manmade objects float on the surface. Because we cannot clearly see what they are we are not sure whether their placement is intentional or simply the result of littering.

The colours and shapes usually associated with Scottish Islands are replaced with scratches, thick black lines and blocks of colour. The sky is almost black but there are scratches which lift away the darkness to reveal a lighter more hopeful sky some distance away. The land bank on the far side of the painting is a stark, muddy brown colour. Blocks of green do not appear to connect with the land but allude to sporadic grassy landscapes on the other side of the water.

The foreground is filled with triangles and rectangles which are defined and linked by black lines. The shapes are transparent in most cases and overlap each other. The initials 'D' and 'G' are etched into one of the shapes in the foreground. Underneath a set of thick, straight, black lines create a window-like grid though which we can see the water. This part of the painting with the window panes and lettering contrasts with the rest of the image, perhaps because we see something very real, rather than abstract.

Born in 1943, Barbara Rae studied at the Edinburgh College of Art between 1961 and 1965, where she was awarded a travel scholarship to work in France and Spain. She attended Moray House College of Education and taught in Edinburgh until 1972. She went on to lecture in Drawing, Painting and Printmaking at Aberdeen College of Education from 1972 to 1974 and lectured in drawing and Painting at Glasgow School of Art from 1975 to 1996.

Barbara's work has been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions across Britain and internationally, including Edinburgh, Aberdeen, London, Dallas and Washington.

She has received many awards, including the Major Scottish Arts Council Awards (1975, 1981), Guthrie Medal, Royal Scottish Academy (1977), Royal Scottish Academy Sir William Gillies Travel Award (1983) Calouste Gulbenkian Printmaking Award (1983) and Hunting Group Prizewinner (1990). She was elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 1992 and the Royal Academy in 1996 and was elected President of the Society of Scottish Artists in 1983. In 1999 she was awarded a CBE and received an Honorary Doctorate from Napier University. She lives and works in Edinburgh

Her paintings and prints include intense colour bursts that evoke dramatic landscapes but remain resolutely abstract. They distill the colour, light and forms of nature into dazzling visions.

Art in Healthcare's blog entry about Barbara Rae


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