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Hayletts Gallery

Biography for Dame Elizabeth Blackadder RSA, RSW, RA (1931)

Dame Elizabeth Blackadder is arguably one of the UK's favourite living artists, noted for portraying flowers, plants, cats, Japanese Gardens & still lifes. She employs a unique style which is contemporary and attractive.

Born in Falkirk in 1931, she studied at Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College. In 1954 she was awarded a Carnegie Travelling Scholarship by the Royal Scottish Academy, and travelled through southern Europe. These travels inspired her early landscapes and influenced the way she saw the world around her. Initially her artwork was more experimental, influenced by the American artists Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. It was during her travels to France she became more aware of the painter Henri Matisse and her palette became more colourful. In 1956 she married fellow artist John Houston.

She makes no secret that some of her arrangements of forms and colours have been greatly influenced by Japanese aesthetics, and she is a regular visitor to Japan. Typical compositions are arranged through a process of setting out groups of miscellaneous objects on her studio table and depicting them from above.

As a printmaker for over four decades she has experimented with a range of printing media including lithography, etching, aquatint, dry point, woodcut and screen-print. She held her first solo exhibition in 1959 at the 57 Gallery in Edinburgh. Since then her work has been shown extensively in exhibitions in Britain, Canada, Germany, USA, Japan, Brazil, Australia and Russia.

Elizabeth Blackadder was elected a Member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1972, was made a Royal Academician in 1976 (making her the first woman ever to be elected to both institutions) and a Member of The Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts in 1983. She is an Honorary Member of the Royal West of England Academy, the Royal Watercolour Society, the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

In 1995 Elizabeth Blackadder’s images of her three cats were used for Royal Mail postage stamps and in 2001 she became the first woman in the 300 year history of the office to be made Her Majesty's painter and limner in Scotland. Elizabeth Blackadder was awarded an OBE in 1982 and lives and works in Edinburgh. Public and private collections in the UK and abroad include- The Tate Gallery; The Scottish National Museum of Modern Art in Edinburgh; Glasgow Museum and Art Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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