Joan Eardley podcast

Joan Eardley is one of Scotland’s most popular and influential twentieth century artists. Her powerful and expressive paintings transformed her everyday surroundings, from Glasgow’s street children to the rugged Kincardineshire coastline.  

May 18, 2021 marked the hundredth anniversary of the artist’s birth. To mark this occasion, the National Galleries of Scotland produced a special three-part audio programme in celebration of the artist’s life and work.

Painter and broadcaster Lachlan Goudie is joined by figures from the art world and beyond to try to understand better the character of this ground-breaking artist whose incredible body of work has endured long beyond her lifetime and continues to inspire new generations of artists.

Joan Eardley Catterline in Winter 1963
Episode 1 - Painting Catterline and the sea

In this episode, Lachlan explores how Joan Eardley approached the sea as a subject and the importance of the village of Catterline in the artist's life with journalist Jan Patience, artist Dawnne McGeachy and former Catterline resident Ron Stephen.

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Unknown Joan Eardley, Catterline 1961 © Estate of the Artist
Episode 2 - The artist's character

In this episode, host Lachlan Goudie is joined by Joan Eardley's niece, the Bearsden-based ceramicist Anne Morrison-Hudson and archivist Kirstie Meehan and curator Leila Riszko from the National Galleries of Scotland to ask what we know of Joan Eardley's character.

The conversation touches on the apparent contrast in Eardley’s character, as a shy, reserved person who expresses herself with such intense passion on canvas. Noting the emotional stresses of her personal life and their impact on her painting, the panel consider Eardley’s experiences as a gay woman in a time when many people of her generation were not open about their sexuality. Lachlan also asks about Eardley’s work ethic and her motivations as an artist.

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Audrey Walker Joan Eardley painting the sea at Catterline 1959 © Audrey Walker
Episode 3 - Material and Process

In this third and final episode, Lachlan talks about Joan Eardley's choice of materials and technique with conservator Lesley Stevenson of the National Galleries of Scotland. During their conversation, the panellists consider Eardley’s use of weathered hardboard and homemade paint, and marvel at the artist’s decision to preserve her surroundings for all time by attaching grass and flowerheads to some of her paintings. 

Also in this episode, Lachlan contextualises Eardley’s work in relation to what was happening elsewhere in the world at the time with contemporary artist Jock McFadyen. A Royal Academician, Jock chose two Eardley paintings to feature in his recent exhibition Jock McFadyen Goes to the Pictures at the Scottish Gallery. Lachlan and Jock refer to the CoBrA group in this conversation. Formed in 1948, CoBrA was a group of Expressionist artists active in the late 1940s and 1950s. The name is derived from the letters of the capital cities of the countries of the artists involved - Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. 

>Read a transcript of this episode

Joan Eardley: Land & sea-A life in Catterline (paperback)


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This beautifully illustrated book on artist Joan Eardley is published to celebrate the 100th anniversary of her birth in 2021. Joan Eardley, one of Scotland’s most loved artists, visited the coastal fishing village of Catterline in 1951 for the first time. It sparked a fascination that would last the rest of her life.

Focusing on Eardley’s relationship with Catterline, this book includes previously unpublished archival material as well as specially conducted interviews with many of those in the village who knew her best, shedding new light on Eardley’s life and artistic practice. A vivid portrait is painted both of Eardley and of the village, showing the vital part Catterline played in her development as an artist.