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Alison Watt unveils self-portrait at Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh
Alison Watt (b.1965), Self-portrait, 1986-87. Oil on canvas, 30.80 x 30.80 cm. © Alison Watt.
EDINBURGH.- The Scottish National Portrait Gallery announced a new acquisition by Alison Watt, one of Scotland’s most distinguished contemporary artists. Self Portrait, (1986-7) was made while the artist was still a student at Glasgow School of Art and has been presented by the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art, to celebrate the re-opening of the Gallery in December 2011.

Best known for her complex and enigmatic paintings of folded drapery, Alison Watt has rarely engaged in formal portraiture since her early career, when she would stand in front of the mirror and paint herself obsessively. This self-portrait has only been exhibited once before, in 1990 – painted while Watt was ill, it shows the artist with her right hand across her forehead, as if she is taking her temperature or about to faint.

Nicola Kalinsky, Interim Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, said, ‘The Art Fund’s gesture in presenting this exquisite self-portrait by one of the most interesting artists to emerge from Scotland in recent years was hugely generous. Marking the reopening of the Portrait Gallery, this acquisition underlines our commitment to exploring contemporary portraiture and showcasing Scottish talent.’

Born in Greenock in 1965, Watt studied at the Glasgow School of Art. In 1987 she won the National Portrait Gallery's annual portrait award, and was commissioned to paint the Queen. She became the youngest artist ever to be given a solo exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 2000.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said, 'Like the museum, Alison Watt is deeply embedded in her Scottish context yet also of international stature, and the Art Fund is pleased to be saluting them both through this grant'.

The painting is currently on display.

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