Patricia McArthur

Patsy McArthur, The Dream, 2021, oil on canvas, 70 x 115 cm

John Kinross Scholar in 1998

How did it affect you as an individual ?
I had visited Florence once before as a teenager, and it had had a huge effect on me already so I was thrilled to be able to spend three months there. I left for Italy the summer straight after I graduated from my BA at Gray’s School of Art and the Italian sun and the romantic promise and electric buzz of Firenze were in huge contrast to 4 years in grey Aberdeen ! I remember feeling just so open to everything – the sights, smells, language, art and churches and I was permanently attached to my sketchbook. Just sitting quietly with the time to sketch, think and draw from life in my book with no expectation or pressure was in hindsight such an incredible gift. It was illuminating that often I was drawn to record the grittier parts of the city and the people there, which were in stark contrast to the angels and religious iconography of the Renaissance frescoes and sculptures. I loved that juxtaposition, and my sketchbooks show it clearly. I travelled with a friend from college, Sarah Innes who had also won a scholarship and we shared a flat on Via Bolognese together which had an old metal cage lift which I will remember forever.


Patsy McArthur, Visions of Paradise, RSA Collection

What was the impact on your practice ?
I think it really highlighted my interest in the human figure or its trace. I wasn’t drawn to depicting the swathes of beautiful Tuscan landscape whatsoever – it was the human element that interested me and I am still resolutely committed to figurative work. There was something about the drama of Renaissance art that filtered into my work during that period and has never left. It also consolidated my ability to record thoughts and ideas and to make best friends with my sketchbook.


What would you say has been the long term impact on yourself and your work ?
Without a doubt, the scholarship ignited in me a love of travel with my art practice by my side and I subsequently went on to do a MA in Barcelona, to do residencies in NYC and Shanghai and to take the initiative to just go and live abroad and make work in Berlin, Valencia and Sydney for various periods of time in my twenties and early thirties. I have a lot to be thankful for in terms of this fantastic opportunity.