Voyages of the Eye: A Symposium on the Lives and Work of Elizabeth Blackadder and John Houston

31 August 2023
Hawthornden Lecture Theatre, Royal Scottish Academy £16 | £12 RSA Friends and concessions 6 - 7.30 pm

Travel, we know, is its own reward but with the Houstons it was never aimless. They were before all else voyages of the eye.’ William Packer.


Coinciding with our major exhibition of their work, join us for a symposium exploring the lives and work of Dame Elizabeth Blackadder RSA and John Houston RSA.


We are pleased to welcome George Donald RSA, Duncan Macmillan HRSA, Alexander Moffat RSA and Lucinda Middleton to explore various aspects of Elizabeth’s and John’s celebrated careers, focusing on their mutual love of travel. Our contributors will give short talks covering both art historical views and personal recollections about the artists. This will be followed by a Q&A chaired by RSA's Director, Colin Greenslade.


Book tickets


Ticket price includes a glass of wine, doors open at 5.45pm.


About George Donald RSA
George Donald RSA is a painter, printmaker and lecturer in studio arts. His calm and contemplative paintings of gardens, figures and landscapes combine colour, texture and pattern to delight, provoke thought or elicit meaning. Born in Ootacamund, India in 1943, Donald studied Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), and then attended Hornsey College of Art, London, in 1969 and the University of Edinburgh in 1980. He went on to become a lecturer in Drawing, Painting and Printmaking at ECA until his retirement in 2000.


About Duncan Macmillan HRSA
Professor Duncan Macmillan HRSA is a Scottish art historian, art critic and writer. Born in 1939, and educated at Gordonstoun School, he obtained his MA degree at the University of St Andrews, his Academic Diploma at the University of London, and his PhD at the University of Edinburgh. Macmillan has written extensively on Scottish art, and is currently an art critic for The Scotsman.


About Alexander Moffat RSA
Alexander Moffat RSA was born in Dunfermline in 1943 and studied painting at Edinburgh College of Art. He became Chairman of the New 57 Gallery in Edinburgh in 1968, a position he held until 1978. In 1979 he joined the staff of Glasgow School of Art where he was Head of the Painting Department from 1992 until his retirement in 2005. His paintings are represented in many collections in the UK and in the Yale Centre for British Art, USA, and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. He was awarded an OBE for his services to the arts in 2006.


About Lucinda Middleton AMA

Lucinda Middleton AMA is Acquisitions Co-ordinator for the RSA. Born in London, she studied History of Art & Architecture at the University of East Anglia and obtained her MSt degree at the University of Oxford. She has worked in museums and galleries for over 30 years, and was Curator of Fine & Decorative Arts at the Royal Cornwall Museum. Lucinda gained Associateship of the Museums Association in 2011. She is responsible for documenting the Blackadder Houston bequest, and curated the Blackadder & Houston Study Collection exhibition in the President’s Room.


Banner Image: Elizabeth Blackadder and John Houston in Venice, 1955. Photo by Elizabeth Blackadder's mother Violet.