Alison Jane Watt OBE is a Scottish painter, born in Greenock on 11 December 1965.
Alison Watt graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1988. While still a student, she won the John Player Portrait Award and as a result was commissioned to point a portrait of the Queen Mother. Her first works to become well known were dryly painted figurative canvases, often female nudes, in light filled interiors. An exhibition of her work entitled Fold in 1997 at Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery was the first introducing fabric alongside these figures, simultaneously suggesting a debt to the 19th Century French painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, as well as pointing to the possibilities of abstraction.
In 2000 she became the youngest artist to be offered a solo exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art with an exhibition called Shift, with 12 huge paintings featuring fabric alone.These exquisitely painted canvases edged further towards the abstract yet had a strange quality which suggested a human presence, or at least absence .
In 2003 Watt was shortlisted for The Jerwood Painting Prize
Watt exhibited during the Edinburgh Festival 2004, installing a 12ft painting Still, in the memorial chapel of Old St Paul’s Church and showing 6 new paintings at the # Ingleby Gallery. Linen bound books were published to commemorate each exhibition. For Still, Alison Watt was awarded the 2005 ACE (Art+Christianity Enquiry) award for ‘a Commissioned Artwork in Ecclesiastical Space’ .
Her subsequent project ‘Dark Light’ was supported by her Creative Scotland Award of 2004 from the Scottish Arts Council.
In Summer 2005 she took part in the prestigious Glenfiddich residency.
From January 2006 to February 2008, Watt served as the seventh artist in residence at the National Gallery, London http://www.inglebygallery.com/newsDetail.php?id=55. She worked within the gallery, and explored an enduring fascination with one particular painting in the collection, Zurbaran’s St. Francis in Meditation ( 1635-9). The work she created in this time was displayed in a special exhibition, Phantom, in the Sunley Room, running from 12 March to 22 June 2008. She is the youngest artist to present a solo exhibit at The National Gallery. Watt’s work has been widely exhibited and is held in many prestigious private and public collections including,The Uffizi Gallery, Florence, The National Portrait Gallery, London and The British Council.
She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours.
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