Carolyn Burchell, Tree Shadow, Eger, acrylic on canvas, 26 x 21cm

John Kinross Scholar in 1984


How did the experience affect you as an individual?
I received the award in 1984 and spent 4 months in Italy. I started off in San Giovanni Valdarno before moving to Florence to stay in a flat situated in a street full of furniture restorers. Meeting some of my fellow recipients as well as artists and artisans in residence made it very sociable and stimulating. Searching for the frescoes and paintings of Piero Della Francesca became a quest; after seeing those in Arezzo I visited Monterchi, San Sepolcro, and the Palace of Urbino to view more. Fra Angelico’s frescoes in San Marco and altarpiece in Cortona also left a lasting impression. I later travelled north to Ferrara, Bologna, Venice and Verona, staying in hostels and pensions before returning in mid-November. I was quite mesmerised by the whole experience and I’m glad I kept a detailed diary which


What was the impact on your practice?
What I most enjoyed was walking around, exploring and finding quirky and (to me) fascinating ‘corners’ in Florence and in smaller towns in Tuscany particularly Sienna, Arezzo, Volterra and Orvieto in Umbria. It was a pleasure to sit outside and watch the activity around me. I painted many watercolours and gouaches of streets, doorways, architectural detail, shop fronts, outdoor furniture and flea markets as well as some interiors of places in which I was staying. I also produced a few ink drawings. I exhibited some of the paintings in a solo show in
1985 in Edinburgh University Staff Club.


What would you say the long term impact has been on yourself and you work?
I have vivid and happy memories of being in Italy. It was an exciting and rewarding time which encouraged me to make a train journey to Vienna and Budapest in 1985 with my brother, then in 1986 I spent 3 months travelling alone throughout Spain, Portugal and France, painting and drawing. It boosted my confidence to make further trips elsewhere in Europe, sometimes alone or with friends or my partner. Nowadays, sketchbooks form diaries of the journeys I make, assisting me with painting when I return home to Edinburgh. I now prefer drawing in situ rather than painting and although I am more inspired by landscape, I still retain my previous interest in street scenes.