Published on 11/07/2018
DAWNNE McGEACHY never tires of painting the sea. Her powerful seascapes have a visceral quality. Not for her, gentle waves lapping a quiet shore — the sea thunders and crashes in her intoxicating paintings.
We have been following Dawnne McGeachy’s work for some time and we are delighted to have the opportunity to show a number of her canvases in our current Summer Exhibition. Her dramatic paintings have literally been stopping people in their tracks.
Both sides of Dawnne McGeachy’s family are of fishing stock, her father from Campbeltown, her mother from Shetland. She credits her father, a fisherman, as the origin of her obsession with the sea. Growing up on the Kintyre peninsula she could not escape its influence.
I was obsessed by the scale of the ocean, its physicality, poetry and my father’s voyages on it to catch fish. I loved his tales of the stars on a clear night and their use in navigation. However, the flip side of this was being awoken as a child by terrifying wind and rain, knowing that my dad was on the Firth of Clyde on a 55ft boat. As the child of a fisherman, I was aware of what the sea gave but also acutely aware of the cruelty of what it was capable of taking away.
Dawnne McGeachy studied at Glasgow School of Art as an undergraduate and postgraduate. She graduated with a 1st Class Honours with Distinction before being Highly Commended when undertaking her Post Graduate Diploma. She then won a scholarship to America to take a Master of Fine Art at the University of Ohio in Columbus where, in 1992, she graduated Phi Kappa Phi, in the top 7% of all Masters students in the US.
Prof Stuart Mackenzie of Glasgow School of Art has said, “Dawnne proved to be one of the most gifted and dedicated students I have ever worked with.”
The group of paintings Dawnne has been working on recently are all of Eshaness, Shetland.
I paint the sea where there is an attachment, memories, time spent and understood. Eshaness is one such place; it is where my lovely mum comes from and where I visited every year as a child through to adulthood. It was, and I still think of Shetland as my second home. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.
The seas around Shetland in the far north of Scotland are frequently stormy. The islands of Shetland form part of the division between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east.
These recent paintings all render Beaufort 12 conditions, described on the official wind scale as ‘hurricane force wind’ when ‘the air is filled with foam and spray; sea is completely white with driving spray; visibility very seriously affected’.
Dawnne’s technical ability is inspiring and she obviously enjoys the act of painting.
The process of painting is in and of itself a great wonder to me, the layers of ink, pen, wax, and oil keep me engrossed for days.
Dawnne McGeachy has won numerous awards, most notably in 2013 the Jolomo Bank Of Scotland Award for landscape painting — she won the £25,000 first prize — and recently she was a runner-up in the 2018 Spectrum Art Prize, having her work exhibited in the Saatchi Gallery in London.
Dawnne McGeachy’s paintings draw you in, to experience them is to feel the immense power and beauty of the ocean.
The Summer Exhibition continues until 28 August.