Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday #FemArt: Frances Walker (1930)

This week's Friday FemArt post is about Frances Walker. It is challenging to find information about Frances or her art online, and because of this (and because I admire her incredible body of work) I thought I would celebrate her art with this short blog post.

I first learned of Frances Walker's art when I purchased the book "Place Observed in Solitude" at the Friends of the OPL Bookstore.  The book was created by the Aberdeen Art Gallery (2009). Unfortunately, the book is not available for purchase online.

The book was published to complement a major exhibition that the Aberdeen Art Gallery held in 2009 in celebration of Frances Walker's 80th birthday.

Book: Frances Walker
Frances Walker was born on the east coast of Scotland  in 1930 in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland (12 miles north of Edinburgh).

Frances studied at the Edinburgh College of Art.

Frances Walker engaged with the Orcadian landscape
(Page 102|103: Place Observed in Solitude)

Frances Walker was posted as a visiting teacher of art in the Western Isles in 1956 where she "developed a life long love of wild and desolate places".

The subject matter of much of her art in the book "Place Observed in Solitude" is the isolated landscapes and panoramas that she loves.

The 2009 book is filled with watercolours, mixed media, oil, screenprints, collograph & watercolour, etchings, monoprints, lithographs, and many of her sketchbook drawings.

I was happy to learn that she found inspiration in poetry and I was surprised at the lengths she went to in order to illustrate one poem in particular. For Iain Crichton Smith's poem Aig a' Chladh, she insisted on visiting the cemetry in Lewis to which Iain Crichton Smith's poem refers.

This is the result:

leabhar beag
(An Leabhar Mor/The Great Book of Gaelic p 53)

Kenspeckle Folk, Calanais

"The stones are like kenspeckle folk: acquaintances I visit and revisit, always with pleasurable recognition when I see again their familiar, very individual shapes and I remain delighted and relieved to find these dear grey stone-people still there whenever I reach Calanais yet once more." wrote Frances in 1995 and I was stuck on the delightful word "kenspeckle"

"Kenspeckle", I came to learn, is a Scots term meaning "easily recognised" or "familiar".

In the quote above, I learned that Frances was referring to a distinct location and she created a lithograph & screenprint of  it called "Callanais".

The Callanish Standing Stones are found on the Isle Of Lewis, Scottish Outer Hebrides

Callanish Standing Stones
2 of 3 lithograph/screenprints by Frances Walker
Her beloved "kenspeckle folk" of "Callanais"


And, of course, I love her sketchbooks!

I feel inspired by Frances Walker  and the book " Place - Observed in Solitude" and I hope , by creating this post, others will find inspiration as well.

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