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Shine the Light Pave the Way

Updated: Apr 20, 2021

Artists and the arts throughout history have me captivated. Over the years I have read about various artists and art movements which have in turn influenced my work, I would like to dedicate my next few posts to all artist past and present.

I am mainly a decorative artist and tend not to delve so much into the psyche or the reasoning behind the artwork in which I produce. What you see is what you get, I am all about textual and decorative displays of art pieces. I do like to give the on looker a sense of warmth and belonging, however there is no hidden meaning to search for when you look at the work I produce, or is there? I do have a narrative, but its spoken language is through embroidery, layers and pattern, I suppose my Applied Arts education runs its delicate threads through all that I do and all that I intend to do. Had I studied Fine Art my story may have been a hugely different one. Over my next few posts I’d like to briefly talk more about other artists and their influences within my work.

While at university a group of female artists really fascinated me, which was the Glasgow Girls from the Glasgow School of Art. It saddens me knowing that I'll never get to see the place in its full entirety as two recent fires have destroyed a lot. The McDonald sisters were a personal interest to me, Frances and Margaret, both studied at the Glasgow School of Art and artists who went on to marry influential men of their time, Margaret married Macintosh and Frances married MacNair, both male architects throughout the Art Nouveau movement. Both the female artists never gained their full recognition as they were shadowed by Macintosh and his career. Frances died from a cerebral haemorrhage, although there was a rumour that she had taken her own life. After her death MacNair destroyed most of her work so unfortunately, we will never get to see the genuinely great artist she was. The two sisters set up studio where they became highly influential, exhibiting in places such as Liverpool and Venice, collaborating with artists like Klimt and their artwork and graphics playing an influential role in the suffragette movement. I could discuss the MacDonald sisters all day, but I’ll keep it short and sweet.

Jessi King was another inspirational Designer of the Glasgow School, she has a prolific volume of work ranging from ceramics, jewellery, interiors, and textiles. I read she stated that she saw her images vividly with her inner eye before putting pencil to paper and said why do you not draw from your head, she was a force of nature a huge character with a distinctive style which gave great newity to the Glasgow Girls.

Right to left is Margaret MacDonald, Jessie King and Frances MacDonald

The imagery that the two McDonald sisters produced was breath taking, even though I have only seen their art in books, as I have yet to come face to face in front of an original, but there is time. The symbolic nature of their art flaws me I could look at their work day in day out and always see something different. I feel that the artwork of these two great females artists and the rest of the "Glasgow Girls" speaks volumes about our female heritage and our artistic struggle to be seen and heard throughout the history of the arts. They gave a voice to the female artists of their generation and influenced the male artists of their time.

Margaret MacDonald's Work

Embroidery Panels, The Wassail detail and The May Queen

Frances MacDonald's work

Spring, The Choice and The Sleeping Princess

Jessie King

Collection of King's artwork, Princess Merlot, The House of Pomegranate, Loves Golden Dream.

So these three artists were very influential around the turn of the 1900's, in the decade before and there after and over 100 years later and their work is now highly sort after. In my opinion they pioneered the way forward for other female artists and the Art Nouveau movement would have been very different had they not been involved. They hold a strong influence in the work I produce today not only because of their imagery, style and extensive catalogues of work, but also for their lives lived, for their struggles lost and the struggles they overcome within this then male dominated industry. These women refused to be the muse and instead became the artist, not the painted, but the painter and the great female artists of our yesterday years. So thank you for all the MacDonald's, Kings and the Glasgow Girls that shone the light and paved the way for us to walk down today.

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