The McMaster Museum of Art

    Media File
    WATT, Alison
    Date: Scottish, born 1965
    Watt’s work first came to public attention in 1987 when she won the National Portrait Gallery’s coveted annual award and 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, simultaneously suggesting a debt to the 19th century painter Ingres as well as pointing to the possibilities of abstraction. 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 further towards the abstract yet had a strange, almost sexy quality which suggested a human presence, or at least absence. 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 had a solo show, Phantom, at The National Gallery, London presenting work produced during her time there as Associate Artist (2006-8) and was awarded an OBE in the same year. Her work has been widely exhibited and is held in many prestigious public and private collections. Recent exhibitions include Dark Light, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh and Pier Art Gallery, Orkney (2007); Autoriatratto, Uffizi Gallery, Italy and Reflecting Glenfiddich, The Fleming Collection, London (2011).

    A significant exhibition of Watt's work will be held at Perth Museum and Art Gallery in the summer of 2014 as part of the Nationwide GENERATION programme of exhibitions; as well as a solo display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.


    1965 Born, Greenock, Scotland, UK
    1983-7 Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, UK
    1987-88 Glasgow School of Art Postgraduate Studies, Glasgow, UK
    2006-2008 Associate Artist at The National Gallery, London, UK
    2008 Awarded the OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List

    Lives and works in Edinburgh

    Solo Exhibitions

    2014 Alison Watt: Paintings 1986 -2014 Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Perth, UK

    2011 Hiding in Full View, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, UK

    2008 Phantom, The Sunley Rooms, The National Gallery, London, UK

    2007 Dark Light, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, UK
    Dark Light, Pier Arts Centre, Orkney, UK

    2004 Alison Watt, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, UK
    Still, Memorial Chapel, Old Saint Paul’s Church, Edinburgh, UK (now permanently installed)

    2002 New Paintings, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, UK

    2000 Shift, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, UK

    1998 Fold, Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum, Aberdeen, UK
    Leeds Metropolitan University Gallery, Leeds, UK

    1997 Monotypes, Flowers East, London, UK
    Fold, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, UK

    1996 New Paintings, Flowers East, London, UK

    1990 Contemporary Art Season, Glasgow Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow, UK
    The Scottish Gallery, London, UK

    Selected Group Exhibitions

    2014 GENERATION: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art,
    Edinburgh, UK (forthcoming)

    2013 Once upon a time and a very good time it was…, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, UK
    The Vasari Corridor, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
    40/40, Glasgow Print Studio, Glasgow, UK

    2011 Reflecting Glenfiddich, The Flemming Collection, London, UK

    2010 Autoriatratto, Sala delle Reali Poste, Uffizi, Florence, Italy
    Commission: An exhibition of contemporary art in Bristish churches, Wallspace, London, UK
    Standing Room Only, Flowers Galleries, London, UK

    2007 A North Light – Cynosure, Pier Arts Centre, Orkney, UK
    The Naked Portrait¬, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, and touring to Compton Verney, Warwickshire, UK

    2006 Strands, City Art Centre, Edinburgh, UK
    Divided Selves: The Scottish Self-Portrait, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh & The Fleming Collection, London, UK

    2004 Picturing Women, Bryn Mawr College, Philadelphia, USA

    2003 White: Callum Innes, Alison Watt, Winston Roeth, James Hugonin, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, UK

    2002 New, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh,UK
    Fold, The City Gallery, Leicester, UK

    2001 Here + Now, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee, UK
    Narcissus, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, UK

    2001 Can You Judge a Book by it’s Cover, Scottish National Gallery ofModern Art, Edinburgh, UK

    2000 Expressions, Dundee Contemporary Art, Dundee, UK

    1999 The Human Figure in Contemporary Art, Galerie de Bellefeuille, Montreal, Canada

    1998 Londres, Glasgow, Edimbourg, Galerie Rachlin LeMarie, Paris, France
    Drawings, Glasgow Print Studio, Glasgow, UK

    1997 Treasures for Everyone, National Arts Collection Fund, Christie’s, London, UK
    10th Anniversary Portfolio, The Freud Museum, London, UK

    1996 Four British Painters, John McEnroe Gallery, New York, USA
    Naked, Flowers East, London, UK

    1995 75 Years of Painting, Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, UK
    McLellan Galleries, Glasgow, UK
    Small is Beautiful, Flowers East, London, UK

    1993 New Figurative Painting, Salander O’Reilly/Fred Hoffman, Los Angeles, USA

    1992 The Portrait Award 1980-89, The National Portrait Gallery, London, UK

    1990 21 Years of Scottish Contemporary Art, Tramway, Glasgow, UK

    1989 The Morrison Portrait Award, The Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, UK

    1987 The National Portrait Competition, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK


    2008 Order of the British Empire
    2006-8 Associate Artist at the National Gallery, London
    2005 ACE Award for Still, her installation at Old St Paul’s Church, Edinburgh
    Awarded National Gallery Artist in Residence 2006-08
    Glenfiddich Artist in Residence
    2003 Winner of Creative Scotland Award
    Shortlisted for Jerwood Painting Prize
    1996 Scottish Arts Council: Individual Artists Award
    1993 City of Glasgow Lord Provost Prize
    1989 Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Award
    1987 Winner of the John Player Portrait Award, National Portrait Gallery, London
    Armour Prize for Still Life Painting, Glasgow School of Art
    1986 British Institution Fund, First Prize for Painting, Royal Academy, London
    1986 First Prize for Painting, Glasgow School of Art

    Selected Collections

    Aberdeen Art Gallery, Aberdeen, UK
    Artemis, London, UK
    British Broadcasting Corporation
    British Council
    Christie’s Corporate Art Collection
    Deutsche Bank
    Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, UK
    Robert Fleming Holdings Ltd
    The Freud Museum, London, UK
    Glasgow Art Gallery & Musuem, Glasgow, UK
    Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, UK
    HBOS Art Collection
    The Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
    McMaster University Art Gallery, Ontario, Canada
    National Westminster Bank, London, UK
    National Portrait Gallery, London, UK
    Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, UK
    Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, UK
    The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, UK
    Southampton Art Gallery, Southampton, UK
    Uffizi Collection, Florence, Italy


    Hiding in Full View, Alison Watt and Don Paterson, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, UK, 2011
    Alison Watt: Phantom, Colin Wiggins and Don Paterson, The National Gallery, London, UK, 2008
    Still, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, UK, 2004
    Alison Watt, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, UK, 2004
    Alison Watt - Fold: New Paintings 1996-1997, John Calcutt, Momentum Publishing with the Fruitmarket Gallery, UK, 1997
    Alison Watt: Shift, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, UK, 2000

    Source: Courtesy Ingleby Gallery