Barbara Rae

Born 1943 Falkirk, Scotland


Barbara Rae is especially known for her semi-abstract paintings and prints, created through the skilful use of colour and line. Her output also includes tapestries, ceramics, and jewellery. Whilst studying at Edinburgh College of Art (1961–65) she was awarded a scholarship that enabled her to work in France and Spain after graduation. Travel has since been a significant element in her artistic practice. Many of her works explore the landscapes and peoples she encounters on her global travels – from Spain to Hudson’s Bay in Canada, she researches each location, immersing herself in the local cultures and histories, before creating a single study informed by intuition. She was made a Royal Academician in 1996, elected President of the Society of Scottish Artists in 1983, and awarded a CBE in 1999. Among many other accolades, Rae was commissioned to design a Royal Mail stamp in 2019 to celebrate 250 years of the Royal Academy. She has held numerous teaching posts, including at Aberdeen College of Education (1972–74) and Glasgow School of Art (1975–96).


Artwork Information

Kilberry (2002) is a semi-abstract landscape impression. Its title refers to a village of the same name, which lies just inland from the West coast of Scotland. Renowned for its wild landscape, western Scotland is a frequent subject of Barbara Rae’s work. The bursts of blue, green, and ochre against the moody sky and bleak hills instil the scene with drama, whilst the layering of horizontal strokes structure the overall composition. Its evocative atmosphere is suggestive of her ability to capture a sense of place, based on an understanding which is attained through the intense study of local history. Prior research and subsequent travel inform the development of her sketches into prints and paintings back in her Edinburgh studio, making the landscapes imaginary yet truthful to felt experience.