Issue 221
May/June 2022

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Aug 15, 2022

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Only look up to Michelangelo

DID WE LEARN anything from lockdowns? Perhaps resilience? Artists as a whole are extremely resilient, perfectionists in the art of survival and of overcoming adversity.

For Scottish artist Greer Ralston, who was inspired to do something positive after the pandemic, her most recent exhibition, ‘Into The Light’ explores the themes of overcoming adversity.

Compelled by the effects of the last two years’ shocking Covid times, and the recent effect of the war, Ralston wanted to do something positive to give a sense of inspiration and empowerment to women who have gone through particularly tough times.

In a new section of the City Contemporary Art Gallery in Perth, The Room, which allows for artists keen to explore more conceptual and controversial subjects, she took four women as her models, each of whom had overcome loss.

They included a dancer who had suffered bulimia, a gardener whose husband had died and suffered breast cancer and a keen wild swimmer who had lost a hip. The paintings all have a sense of hope and belief that the light and better times are ahead.

The exhibition shows to us that we are all survivors – especially after this extremely dark time.

Greer studied at Glasgow School of Art in the 1980s and has been collected by Ann Gloag, Arnold Clark and Honor Blackman, to name but a few.

Although a very talented portrait painter, she refused to make her career out of painting other people’s faces and pets, feeling that is was an end of the road for her art works, as they would never get outside the four walls of the commissioners’ houses, instead she preferred to work on more challenging themes.

Her massive flower paintings have always been hugely popular sellers, as have her paintings of horses. Flowers too play a central part in this exhibition, as flowers are something we all use at key points in our lives. Whether to celebrate birth, show love or offer support in times of grief and pain, flowers are central to our emotions.

The daughter of a famous showjumper, Gilbert Ralston, Greer grew up in Fintry and began competing in showjumping and hunter classes along with her sister Aileen.

She was surrounded by horses from an early age and one of the first things she did was paint them. She was an official judge for many years at horse shows throughout Scotland. She has also taught art in schools and colleges and, throughout the pandemic, gave art classes in her garden in Stirling.

aving worked all her life as a successful painter, Greer’s advice to anyone keen to start a career as an artist is never to look at others around you.

“Keep your focus to yourself. If you need to look at others for inspiration, look to the past. I have always loved the work of Michelangelo.

“It is very hard now with social media and so much around us not to be tempted to look at what everyone else is doing. However, the hardest thing is to be true to yourself.”

Pretty good advice from a hard working artist!



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