Alison Watt OBE

ALISON WATT Born 1965.
Alison Watt was born in Greenock in 1965 and studied at Glasgow School
of Art from 1983-88. From 2006 to 2008, Watt was the Associate
Artist at The National Gallery in London, an intense period of work
culminating in the spectacular solo exhibition Phantom (2008) which
explored her fascination with one particular painting in their collection,
Zurbaran's 'St. Francis in Meditation' (1635-9).

Watt’s art work first came to public attention in 1987 – as she won the
National Portrait Gallery’s coveted annual award.
In the late 1980s and early 90s she became well known for her paintings
of figures, often female nudes, in dryly painted, light-filled interiors.
Watt’s exhibition Fold in 1997 at Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery marked a
turning point by introducing fabric alongside these figures. This was a
similar theme that the 19th century painter Ingres explored. Her work also
became more abstract. Watt’s portraits often focus upon the drapery which
is traditionally used as a backdrop for the sitter.
Shift, her exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art at
the end of 2000, took these ideas a stage further still with 12 large
works, each depicting swathes of fabric alone. These exquisitely painted
canvases edge towards the abstract. In these recent large-scale works, the
human figure is entirely absent, allowing the texture and folds of the fabric
to take centre stage. Shift was also significant as Watt was at that time
the youngest female artist to be awarded a solo exhibition at SNGMA.

In 2008, Alison Watt was awarded an OBE. Her work has been widely
exhibited and is held in many prestigious public and private collections
including: Aberdeen City Art Gallery; the British Council; Deutsche Bank;
Gallery of Modern Art Glasgow; the Scottish National Gallery of Modern
Art; and the Scottish Parliament.