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Arts and Entertainment | 19th September 2019
 

Artist portrays a hill shepherd’s life

 
 
 

LANGHOLM & District Art Club welcomed Felicite Scott and Lorraine Morton to present an illuminating introduction into the life and works of contemporary artist Victoria Crowe.
They led members through the life of Crowe, from her early years spent in Kingston-upon-Thames, at school and Kingston Art School where she met her husband, Michael Walton, before studying at the Royal College of Art in London.
As a student, she took a field trip to Russia and she was highly influenced by the culture and this was reflected in her early works.
Subsequent overseas trips to Italy, Madeira, India and Egypt evidently made an impact on her and her paintings during those periods.
In 1968, when she was 23, she and Michael moved to Kitleyknowe in the Pentland Hills and it was home for the next 20 years or so, while raising their son and daughter.
It was at Kitleyknowe that Crowe met her neighbour, Jenny Armstrong, an elderly shepherdess.
She became not only a dear friend but also her muse for A Shepherd’s Life, a study of a way of life over 20 years, encapsulating Jenny as she went about her business and the changing seasons and landscapes.
Crowe was very frugal with her palette when painting these landscapes. Adding a hint of sepia or the palest of blues, it gave a spiritual and ethereal look to an otherwise monochrome canvas.
Yet, when portraying Jenny indoors, we see rich, earthy colours, giving a warmth to the subject and surrounding her in a warm glow and in the background, in complete contrast, we view the stark and cold landscape.
Even when she shows Jenny in the depths of winter, deep in snow, the figure does not dominate the painting; rather, Jenny becomes a part of the landscape, a blurry figure feeding her sheep against the elements.
Crowe is also a renowned portrait painter. She painted many famous people, and rare portraits of her children.
The saddest of all is one of her son, three years before he died of cancer in 1994 aged 22 while still a student.
Subsequent works by Crowe screamed out at the viewer the sadness which engulfed her and probably brought out the best of her work at that time, incorporating lilies and dragonflies.
She was always a spiritual person, even more so now, and this is evident in her current work.
Felicite and Lorraine guided members through this rollercoaster of a life with great depth of knowledge of the subject, her works and life, keeping the audience in awe of Crowe’s work which reflected the journey of her own life, influences and experiences.
An exhibition of her work is in the City Art Centre, Edinburgh until October 13.

 
 
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