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                                                           © The Eardley Estate

Joan Eardley
'Big Ears'
Pastel on paper
Bequeathed by Lillian Browse, 2005, received 2006

Born in Sussex, Eardley moved to Glasgow in 1940 to study at Glasgow School of Art. She worked as both a landscape and a figure painter, drawing inspiration from the fishing villages on the Scottish coast (especially Catterline, where she eventually bought a house in 1955), and from the grittiness of the Glasgow streets.

Although she found the day-to-day life of the city rich in pictorial subject matter, she was keen to deny any political message in her work: 'The back streets mean almost entirely screaming, playing children - all over the streets - and only in the shadows of doorways groups of women and at the street corners groups of men, but always chiefly children, and the noise of children.'

The very media Eardley used to depict these children contributes to the directness and humanity of her approach. She would use any old scraps of paper and whatever medium she had to hand, including the blue distemper she used to paint her studio walls. Here, the swiftly-applied, smudged, pastel suggests the grubbiness of the street children as well as something of their irrepressible vitality.


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