Noah's Ark
By Margaret Milne

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Year
1996
Media
Oil Painting
Subject Matter
Abstract - Animals
Reg. Number
P742
Size
78 x 97 cm

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The gentle naivety of this honest still-life is highlighted by the bright childlike colours and tones. In the centre of the composition we find a postcard image of a Modigliani-esque Noah figure lording over his multi-coloured ark with a pink fan beaming around him like a displayed peacock. The scene depicts an eclectic array of objects - ranging from paper peacocks and toy Indian elephants to a large African tribal mask.

Using oil on canvas, Margaret creates strongly demarcated colour blocks in this bright still life to produce flat surfaces and convey a delicate sense of naivety. The African mask in the left foreground provides the painting's only area of truly blended colour which creates a sense of depth and solidity.

The inspiration behind this still-life surfaced when Margaret came to arrange a random assortment of objects: “as I was putting the objects together I noticed they consisted of a toy boat and some animals and so I used the Old Testament story as a means of developing the picture. An angry God, represented by the mask, blows up a storm from the bottom left corner, while the sunflower in the top right-hand corner represents salvation. The animals came in pairs and the love-birds sit beside a leafy twig. I borrowed the old man in the centre from Modigliani, to represent Noah.”

Margaret Milne was born in Methil in 1957. After graduating from Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in 1979, she invited friends and family to sit for portraits or produced still-life paintings when no models were available. Her interest in painting portraits of sitters in their own homes, surrounded by their own objects was soon reflected in her still-life paintings. Margaret amassed a large collection of objects which she arranged and re-arranged into new configurations, before preserving them on canvas.

Margaret continues to live and work in Dundee where she is a part-time lecturer at Dundee College and has executed more than 180 commissioned portraits. Now specialising in the study of the human figure and portraiture, she seldom returns to still-life and abstract composition. Her work has been exhibited widely in galleries throughout the UK, including the National Portrait Gallery, the Mall galleries, and the County Hall Gallery in London, the Royal Glasgow Institute and the Royal Scottish Academy. She also appeared on the BBC television series 'Star Portraits' first shown on BBC1 in 2004.