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About The Play

Anna Carlisle’s ground-breaking new play celebrates a gifted life stopped in its prime and will give audiences an opportunity to spend time in the company of a great painter as she makes her way through a life of joys, frustrations, disappointments and triumphs. In this compelling and moving promenade production, audiences will come to understand what it was that fired Joan Eardley: they will hear the voices of her cherished Samson children of Glasgow and the sounds of the Catterline storms. They will feel as if they are almost standing in the waves and cornfields with her, and experience for themselves the overwhelming impact of her finished works.

npg-workshop-imageJoan’s touching life will unfold before people’s eyes entailing story, sound, visual imagery and their own human interactions. And she will not be alone: as well as having the audiences alongside her, she will also have with her her steadfast friends from her working life: Margot Sandeman, Angus Neil and Lil Neilson, all painters themselves, and Audrey Walker, Joan’s key mentor and a successful photographer in her own right. When Joan Eardley died in 1963, tragically and some would say unnecessarily young, she left behind not only an extraordinary body of work but this steadfast body of people who loved her and never left her till the very last day of her life.

The guiding intention of the production is to bring Joan Eardley and her overwhelming body and nature of work to the notice of the English public who know of her – if at all – far less well than the Scots. Joan’s giant paintings of the sea and the land will bowl you over – as they did her, literally! You will marvel that they were not painted just yesterday, and you will be amazed at the ‘organic’ textures on Joan’s canvases, incorporating all the grit and seeds and spatterings that nature would throw at them! Her portraits of the Glasgow children will both enchant and enlighten you, telling – as they do – of the hope that could exist within despair and poverty, and the simple joy that could prevail amongst the desolation and destruction of the Glasgow slum suburbs.