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The Glasgow Girls

, Harper, Beaton,Burr

Alison Harper, Rosemary Beaton and Lesley Burr, who also show together as “The Glasgow Girls” trained at the distinctive Glasgow School of Art in the eighties. Under the skilful tutelage and influences of Jack Knox, Sandy Moffat, Barbara Rae and Jimmy Robertson, there was a high degree of experimentation especially around drawing and painting the figure at the time.

This coincided with and marked a period of resurgence in figurative painting internationally, with Scotland and Italy being a focus for this revival of interest.

In this experimental period, the imaginative response to the observed world was accorded the greatest value over and above simply the seen. The ideal was to draw and paint with complete knowledge of the forms but informed by an unbroken connection with instinct and feeling.

It was a dynamic era for the painting department at Glasgow and many interesting and enduring painters emerged during this time and for some years after. Supported by the liberating and solid beginnings of their early experiences each of the artists carved out very different and highly individual approaches to painting.

All three went on to exhibit independently and together. The first “Glasgow Girls” show with a different line-up was at the Boundary Gallery in London in 1987, one year after completing their postgraduate years. The Independent newspaper had run an article entitled “Here come the Glasgow Girls” in response to a successful all-woman show including Alison Harper, Margaret Hunter, Mary Maclean and Karen Strang. The title referred to the success of “The New Glasgow Boys” Ken Currie, Peter Howsen, Steven Campbell etc. who were rising stars at the time.

Our artists continued to exhibit regularly together with Debbie Lee as “The Glasgow Girls” at the Boundary gallery in London and in Glasgow most notably with the show “Tongues of Diamond” including Helen Flockhart at the Collins gallery which also toured various public galleries in Britain.

In 2005 Beaton and Harper exhibited in a show entitled “Monumental Women” at the Boundary gallery alongside Paula Rego and Nicki de St. Phalle.

Art history gives us many examples of artists working together in groups albeit with different concerns and styles. Much can be gained from this kind of partnership.

The lives of our three artists have taken them geographically in different directions, from the West coast of Scotland to Kenya and India, however they have remained personally in touch and have derived much personal and professional encouragement from showing as a group and working together on painting trips.

Recently Barry Didcock of The Herald published an article looking at the art market and the mysterious factors behind the pricing of art work. Harper, Burr and Beaton are all featured strongly in this article which can be found on-line at