Our Charity

Art in Healthcare is the leading arts provider for health organisations in Scotland. We lend high quality, original artwork to hospitals and other healthcare settings and provide fun-filled art workshops and talks for patients, care home residents and sheltered housing communities.
Find out more about our work at Art in Healthcare.
Donate with JustGiving

Artworks in Collection


2505


Helpful Links

Macmillan Cancer Support

Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland

Age Scotland

Parkinsons UK - Edinburgh Branch


Total Pageviews

1819

Madonna of the Bass Rock

by

John Bellany

MadonnaoftheBassRock
Madonna of the Bass Rock by John Bellany
Watercolour
1997
90 x 71 cm

Reg. Number: P853

Print Label Print Label

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This striking watercolour portrays the Bass Rock off the coast of North Berwick, an important landmark in Scotland's natural, political and cultural history. The artist, John Bellany, is a native of East Lothian and his work often displays influence from the coast of the Firth of Forth. John has fully used the qualities of watercolours to create a violent seascape, with clashing bands of paint forming waves. The artist has chosen a dark, turbulent colour palette, where blues and greens clash with reds and yellows. The pencil outlines of the original image are still visible, even where there is no painted outline, adding to the rough sense of composition. The outlines also provide detail to the elements of the composition, such as the figures in the lower right corner and the details of the rock itself. Instead of using white paint, which would have been difficult in watercolour, the artist has left space blank in order to create white patches and lighting. The eyes of the figures in the foreground have not been created with solid colour, but rather with a series of concentric circles and crosshatches.

The image is highly stylised, with the oversized facial features and irregular outlines typical of John's figurative work which emulates a time in art history before modern perspective became commonplace. The name and subject matter is reminiscent of traditional Christian artwork, a fitting theme given the Bass Rock's history as a Christian hermitage. A Madonna refers to a depiction of the Virgin Mary, often accompanied by the infant Christ, which was a popular subject in medieval icons. This painting has many aspects that refer to traditional iconography, such as the expressions of the foreground figures, which do not reflect human concerns but divine detachment, with the eyes of the mother and child focused on Heaven. The range of yellow and orange paints used to colour their skin reflects the gold of Byzantine icons, and the bright patch in the mother's hair suggests a rudimentary halo. Yet the form is also subverted: the background represents a contemporary seascape. Far from the beatific ideal of the Virgin, this mother is straggling haired, sunken-eyed, and emaciated: she is not a conventional Madonna, but a post-humanist figure, full of mortal frailty. It is her motherhood that is emphasised, not her divinity. The artist himself underwent a liver transplant in 1989 and mortality and human vulnerability became important themes in John's later work as a result.

John Bellany is recognised as one of the most influential post-war Scottish artists. Born in 1942 into a family of fishermen and boat builders in Port Seton, fishing communities and life by the coast have long influenced his work. He attended the Edinburgh College of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. His work can be found in the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Tate Britain in London. In 1994, he received the CBE
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Since 1991 our charity has been assembling one of the largest and most prestigious Collections of original Scottish art in the country. These artworks are uniquely available for display in hospitals and other healthcare settings.


Art in Healthcare is truly committed to the important role that art plays in the healing environment but we need your help to properly maintain and build this unique Collection for the enjoyment and benefit of the hundreds of thousands of staff, patients and visitors who view it each year.


With your help we're able to:


Keep our Collection on display in hospitals and care homes
Support young artists at their degree shows
Buy artwork from professional artists
Provide fun-filled art workshops for patients and care home residents
Develop our training programmes for volunteers


Adopt an artwork from our Collection for just £3 a month and you'll receive:


Your name (or a loved one's) written next to your chosen artwork online
A certificate of adoption with a picture of the artwork
Invites to Art in Healthcare's special events
First to view our latest Prestigious Print
Our colourful e-newsletter


"My patients really enjoy looking at our collection. Sometimes they even do an 'art tour' around the premises." ~ Barron Dental Practice


You can adopt an artwork in the gallery, if it hasn't already been adopted, by clicking the 'Adopt Me' button below the picture of the artwork.


Our Charity

Art in Healthcare is the leading arts provider for health organisations in Scotland. We lend high quality, original artwork to hospitals and other healthcare settings and provide fun-filled art workshops and talks for patients, care home residents and sheltered housing communities.
Find out more about our work at Art in Healthcare.
Adopt an artwork
Donate with JustGiving

Helpful Links

Macmillan Cancer Support

Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland

Age Scotland

Parkinsons UK - Edinburgh Branch


Total Pageviews

1819


Supported by Edinburgh Art Fair