William Littlejohn RSA: Abstract Paintings from the Studio Collection

For a 360° panorama of the show click here.


William Littlejohn is widely known for his beautiful watercolours detailing influences such as fish, still life and harbours, so it is very unusual to bring together a selection of more abstracted works by Bill for this exhibition.


Dealing mainly with patterning and the suggestion of form, the works continue to be influenced by the sea and the paraphernalia of the fishing industry with additional hints of modernism and Japonism. These ideas are seen here digested and condensed, paired down in an eastern aesthetic to a very pure exploration of abstract form.


In the oils, primarily painted in the 1970s, we have warm palettes of lilac, peach and creams. The works hint towards the coastal cities and fishing/industry with titles such as Fishtrap 2 and Bollard. Here, the works are floating planes of soft colours, many of which carry abstracted motifs appearing and disappearing from the edges of the canvas.


The softness of these are matched and juxtaposed with the stark watercolours of the later period. Tall narrow paintings with dark suggestions of text are highlighted with accents of bright colour and reflective foils in gold and silver. Slim vertical paintings, their scroll or totem-like quality read beautifully in groups or as single units.


The 25 works in the exhibition date from the late 1960s to early 21st Century and include many previously unseen works. The exhibition is complimented by a selection of items and publications from Bill's studio.

All works are available for purchase.


About the William Littlejohn Studio Collection

In 2006, William Littlejohn bequeathed his studio to the RSA. This consisted of some 300+ watercolours, oils, drawings and prints along with studio objects, sketch-books and research documents. There was also a library of research publications. In addition, a separate sum of money was also bequeathed to establish a new watercolour award - The RSA William Littlejohn Bequest Watercolour Award - which is now administered and disbursed by the RSA to Scottish artists working in watercolour.


The RSA has since accessioned a number of key works of Bill's into its permanent Collection - these along with the books and studio objects form the William Littlejohn Studio Collection.


Works from the gift have been exhibited in Edinburgh, Stonehaven, Forfar and Arbroath and the proceeds of the sales of any works are added to the bequest for future disbursal to artists participating in the award.