Conversations with the Collection | Staff Insights on Anne Redpath

Being so close to the artworks every day, our Security and Visitor Services team have a unique relationship with our collection. Colleagues from this team have written creative responses to an artwork or artist of their choosing from this display. These personal pieces aim to open up different ways of seeing our collection. This blog was written by Emma Griffin on The Worcester Jug by Scottish artist Anne Redpath.

The Worcester Jug: A curated home by Anne Redpath

My interest in Scottish art began in secondary school at the age of thirteen, when my art teacher asked the class to write a comparison piece between Alberto Morrocco and Anne Redpath. The two artists shared an affinity for harmonising colours throughout their paintings. This introduction to studying artists and researching their work sparked a passion for art history and is one of the reasons why I now work for the National Galleries of Scotland.

The Worcester Jug, currently on display in Room 17 of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One) in Edinburgh, is a snapshot look at the artist’s personal living space, and depicts an eclectic post-war interior. Redpath was not particularly wealthy during the 1930s and 40s and would often exchange paintings for food or home improvements.

Anne Redpath The Worcester Jug About 1946 © Royal Scottish Academy. All rights reserved. Bridgeman Images 2023

The precise date of this painting is unknown, although it is believed to have been completed not long before October 1946. H. Scott Plummer, a journalist for The Scotsman, wrote about the Society of Scottish Artists (SSA) exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy that month, and described the work as being ‘More full of interest than anything I have yet seen of hers.’ Following this positive review, Redpath exhibited The Worcester Jug at the Royal Academy in London in 1947.

Looking at this painting, it greets us with muted lilac undertones that provide a feeling of comfort and continuity throughout. I imagine the host is busying herself in the kitchen, brewing a pot of tea, while her guests – us, the viewers – wait patiently, taking in the decor to find something to compliment on Anne’s return. What do we comment on first? The bold, complimentary coloured vase of flowers and nearby characterful painted crockery? The curtains that are reminiscent of Orla Kiely’s leaf patterns? The lace edged tablecloth covering a long distorted oval table? The title decides it for us. The central focus is the Worcestershire jug, an 1840s Rococo style hand-painted porcelain vessel. The jug would have been an antique at the time it was painted. It leaves the viewer asking many questions. Was the jug gifted by a loved one, or handed down as an heirloom? Was it simply bought because it was pleasing to look at?

Tea for two from Emma Griffin's Kitchen.

The inanimate objects living in our homes have a story for how they came to be there. The items we collect and store in our homes convey something about an individual’s personality. My own collection includes a cherished mug depicting four cats, gifted to me by my gran when I was a child. These personal treasures can also hold a deeper sentiment if a loved one passes away. After my dad died in 2022, his favourite mugs now mean more to me than they did before. I still use his mugs today. I often think that he is still with me in some way, and that when I drink a cup of tea, I am drinking it for the both of us. The Worcester Jug painting leaves us to ponder what personal items we would include on our own table. What would your centrepiece be?

By Emma Griffin, 27 January 2023