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From university professor to full time artist

By David Porter

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Seascapes, landscapes and abstract paintings inspired by Scotland’s rich environment make up the core of a a solo exhibition by artist Stephen Redpath which opens at the Tolquhon Gallery on Saturday, September 5.

Stephen Redpath
Stephen Redpath

Stephen lives in rural Aberdeenshire, between Deeside and Donside, and is inspired by the world around him.

This is his first solo exhibition which was originally planned for May but Covid-19 put paid to those plans.

Steve grew up in rural Pembrokeshire, Wales, where his parents were craftsmen who ran a woollen mill.

His idyllic childhood was spent largely exploring the natural world and this ultimately led him to study for a degree in ecology and a career studying wildlife and landscape, latterly as professor at the University of Aberdeen.

Steve never lost his enthusiasm for art, despite working in science, and over the years he has worked with artists on several projects exploring the boundaries between the disciplines.

He said: “I paint to capture light and the essence of landscapes.

"My work builds on direct observation in the field, but I also draw heavily on memories, feelings and an emotional response to the natural world.

"I love to work in that area between representation and abstract and I strive for those exhilarating moments where the landscape and my emotional response become interwoven in the painting.”

Eventually the urge to paint became too powerful for Steve to suppress.

Recently he took early retirement from the university and can now finally focus on his painting.

The view from the village
The view from the village

Joan Ross of Tolquhon Gallery said, ‘We were introduced to Steve by another artist.

"Having been told he was a professor in Conservation Science, we were originally rather sceptical that he would be any good.

"But we trusted the artist’s judgement and as soon as we met Steve and saw his work we knew there was a special quality to his paintings.

"Each one has a freshness and an immediacy which are rare.

"The word ‘passion’ is overused but Steve has a clear passion for paint.

"He delights in handling it, especially watercolour, with its unpredictable nature.’

Julian Spalding, former director of Glasgow Galleries and Museums, has described his paintings as ”at once so confident and free, and, quite often, simply beautiful, in a spontaneous, almost breathtaking way.”

The exhibition is at Tolquhon Gallery from September 5 to September 26, open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am to 4 pm, or by appointment.

Careful coronavirus safety measures are in place for visitors.

The exhibition can also be viewed on the gallery website www.tolquhon-gallery.co.uk.

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