Alison Watt is widely regarded as one of the leading British painters working today, with work held in many important national and international collections including the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Arts Council Collection, London; the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; U.S. Embassies Collection; and the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. Watt subsequently became well known for her paintings of figures, often female nudes, before beginning in the late 1990s to focus on the fabric which had previously acted as a prop or backdrop for her figures.


Although the human figure is no longer explicit in Watt’s work, it is often implied. More recently, her painting has focused upon the relationship between the genres of portraiture and still life, exploring the possible narratives around everyday objects.


Born in Greenock, Watt studied at Glasgow School of Art, and in 1987, while still a student, won the National Portrait Gallery London prestigious annual award. 


Across the last three decades, Watt has exhibited nationally and internationally and has had major solo exhibitions at the National Gallery, London (where she was appointed Associate Artist in 2006); the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh; Dulwich Picture Gallery, London; Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow; Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Museum, Kendal; and The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh.


Watt's most recent exhibition A Portrait Without Likeness was held at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, in 2021-22, touring to Inverness Art Gallery and Museum in 2022. She was awarded an OBE in 2008 and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2017.