Review by J Inglis
Margot Sandeman and Joan Eardley were good friends as students at Glasgow School of Art and later as they worked together in Arran in the small house to the rear of the converted church in Corrie known as the “Tabernacle”. Their painting styles were very different. While Joan took advantage of the freedom allowed the artist by Modernism and the American Abstract Expressionists, Margot chose a quieter, reflective route more akin to ‘ feeling’ and’ being’ than the power and gesture of her friend Joan.
In one of the largest of Margot’s paintings “The Valley” a young woman is reading peacefully, partially engulfed in foliage with the hill rising gently behind. It captures the spirit of many of her figure paintings which induce a feeling of peace even as the figures are bathing. None of her figures are painted to strict anatomical specifications but retain a languid attitude which, when engulfed in sinuous natural form, enhances the sense of an idyll.
Her still-lifes have a deliberately child- like simplicity in rich rather than bright colour often bearing passages of enigmatic poetry executed in collaboration with Ian Hamilton Findlay (he of the” Little Sparta” gardens) while her paintings of natural form and foliage are patterned and decorative. All are painted boldly and with a certainty that reflects on the strength of her vision and conviction. The work is unmistakably from a woman’s hand and in dealing with nature, love and peace, may owe something to the tradition of the” Glasgow Girls” with whom Margot was familiar through her mother Muriel , who was one of them.
Margot Sandeman has produced a huge volume of work with a strong individual vision which has not faltered throughout her career. The fact that it is out of kilter with today’s art climate may simply enhance its attraction but her strength of conviction and visionary sense should secure Margot’s reputation as a leading Scottish artist whose message of gentleness, hope and peace will resonate.
*Feature image is of Brambles Jugs and Pears, contributed from the Cyril Gerber Art Gallery.