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Display of works by Craigie Aitchison RA on view at Jerwood Gallery in Hastings
Craigie Aitchison, St Francis, 1993 © The Estate of Craigie Aitchison, Bridgeman Art Library 2013.

HASTINGS.- Jerwood Gallery announces a display of works by Craigie Aitchison RA, which complements the gallery’s major summer exhibition Jeffery Camp: The Way to Beachy Head. The one room display will run, along with the Camp exhibition, until 2 October.

Aitchison was a great friend and admirer of Jeffery Camp, once stating that ‘Jeffery is the most underrated painter around’. The admiration was mutual. Speaking about the people and animals in Aitchison’s paintings, Camp reflected ‘They are protected by rituals, flowers and bright colours. They enjoy the soft green grass of summer. Only painting is worthwhile.’

Craigie Aitchison RA CBE (1926-2009) was a celebrated Scottish painter. He won the first Jerwood Painting Prize in 1994, having been shortlisted alongside the artists Maurice Cockrill, John Hoyland, Yoko Shiraishi, Euan Uglow and John Lessore. Crucifixions were a major theme in Aitchison’s work. Although he did not consider himself to be religious, Aitchison found this subject powerful and moving. ‘The Crucifixion is the most horrific story I’ve ever heard’ he said. ‘They were all ganging up against one person. As long as the world exists one should attempt to record that. It was so unfair’.

The Jerwood Gallery display includes Aitchison’s painting St Francis from the Jerwood Collection, which hangs alongside works generously loaned by the Timothy Taylor Gallery, London.

Born in Edinburgh, Aitchison initially planned to pursue a career in the legal profession and studied at Edinburgh University and in 1948 he enrolled at London’s Middle Temple. However, he returned to Edinburgh in 1950, not to practise law but to paint and two years later he took classes at the Slade School in London under the tutelage of Sir William Coldstream. In 1954 his work was included in the Six Young Contemporaries exhibition at Gimpel Fils and the following year he was awarded a British Council Scholarship, which enabled him to travel to Italy. His first solo exhibition was held in 1959 at the Beaux Arts Gallery, London, where he showed again in 1960 and 1964. Major exhibitions of his work include: Serpentine Gallery, London (1981-82); Harewood House, Leeds (1994); Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (1996); and the Royal Academy, London (2003). Aitchison was elected RA in 1988 and was appointed CBE in 1999. He won the RA’s Korn Ferry International Award in 1989, and again in 1991, the first Jerwood Painting Prize in 1994, and the Nordstern Art Prize in 2000.

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