THE HUMAN FORM
We are delighted and very privileged to welcome Muriel Barclay back for her two yearly solo show with 35 paintings. Barclay has a relatively low painting output, which makes her paintings very rare and very special – there is always a high level of demand for her work. We would recommend that you move quickly to reserve/secure your painting to avoid any disappointment.
Muriel first showed promise in art at school, however she was persuaded to go to University rather than Art School. “People didn’t really buy art then.” Art was not considered a full time job and there was a view that you couldn’t earn a living from art. She studied History and Philosophy at Edinburgh. On graduating she made the step of going to London, where she took a secretarial role in a Mayfair Gallery, to gain experience. The gallery specialised in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art and she was to learn a lot about ‘art’ and ‘life’ from her two years there. She then returned to Glasgow and made a decision to start teacher training. She got married at 24 and had a child a year later and then another and another. In this respect, her life path looked conventional.
However, the desire to paint was never far away. Indeed teaching hours gave her the flexibility to juggle her family life leaving her enough space to take regular art classes in the evening, at weekends and at art courses that would last for a week. Latterly, she moved to part-time teaching to give herself even more time to paint. Muriel also studied for an Open University Degree in Art History, which she said was “life changing.” She studied the development of art from the mid 1800s to the 1980s, a period when art was to take a massive turn with the advent of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. This had a profound effect on the development of Muriel as an artist. “I started to understand what, how and why paint works. It made me reflect on what I wanted to paint and my own techniques.”
Muriel is influenced by many of the great artists in art history. In particular Edward Manet and his painting ‘Olympia’, Degas, Matisse as well as Malevich, Mondrian, Rothko and Jackson Pollock. She admires their rejection and rebellion against the past and the prevailing order. She also has a love of photography, including Mario Testino, Lee Miller and Diane Arbus and is enthralled by their ability to observe. Of her paintings, Muriel says “I am interested by people and their relationship with each other and the world.” She is particularly interested in the female perspective, their intimacy, vulnerability, fragility and their defences. Her paintings are about observation and ambiguity. She is fascinated by athletic human form, the physiology and contours of human flesh and the way that fabric and the light on fabric responds to movement.
Muriel’s subjects are invariably beautiful, immaculately groomed girls with their hair tied back and meticulous face make-up, set in a musical or dance/ballet theme or in this case she has experimented with the concept of wild water swimming. She frequently introduces complimentary props such as musical instruments, men and animals to enhance her narrative. Her use of tutus is designed to accentuate the femininity of her subjects. “Wearing a tutu, is every small girl’s dream.”
Her tones and use of mark-making enhances the expressive depth of her paintings. It is important to her to be accurate and to be convincing, with her subjects placed in a pleasing way.
We look forward to seeing you at this very special show – a rare opportunity to access/see the work of this highly regarded and collectible Scottish contemporary figurative narrative artist !