A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Beth Fisher spent a year abroad at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford. Emigrating from the USA in 1970, she was influential in helping to set up the Glasgow Print Studio and Peacock Printmakers in Aberdeen. Over the past 40 years she has taught at Glasgow School of Art, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee and Gray's School of Art, Aberdeen. She was elected a member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1989.
The work for Grisaille Legacy was begun under an AHRC Fellowship in 2000, and the exhibition premiered at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh in January 2010. The present exhibition is a selection from that larger show.
Her drawings are about the family life-cycle. Beth set out to make a series of works about ordinary domestic life over ten years ago. Her parents then declined and died, her husband and daughter were struck by serious illnesses, and she had to reconcile her own ageing and her children's growing independence. Out of these experiences came several series of powerful narratives drawing upon the pagan and Christian symbolism of Renaissance art, with its subjects of sacrifice and suffering.
Partly influenced by the austere granite classicism and grey skies of her adoptive home of Aberdeen, Beth worked mostly in monochrome, and called it ‘grisaille’ after the mainly Renaissance technique of making pictures to resemble monumental sculpture. Many of the works represent unresolved emotional and psychological processes, but they reflect a maturing of her style, and a lifetime balancing the roles of artist, teacher, wife, mother and daughter. Beth therefore considers them her legacy. Vigil II Series, and Lewie, in contrast, use the power of colour to express the intensity of both desperation and love in the family narrative.
Based on text by Marius Kwint, Senior Lecturer in Visual Culture, University of Portsmouth