Wilma Dunbar, Devenick Field, oil on canvas

John Kinross Scholar in 1992


How did the experience affect you as an individual?
As I had only ventured out with the UK once before, the opportunity to travel with the Kinross Scholarship to Italy was hugely exciting for me. I could not imagine what lay ahead as I arrived in Florence for the three months’ study and research. Florence was overwhelming with amazing sights.   It was a thrill to find the work of the great Renaissance artists – previously studied in Art History classes – Giotto, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Titian, Piero della Francesco, Brunelleschi, and many more – now to be seen in reality. The architecture, interiors, artefacts, streets, people and markets, shapes, colours and patterns, were fascinating for a painter. Each town or hamlet I visited had new treasures to see, such as the black and white tower and Duomo in Siena, and the frescoes of Piero della Francesco, painted with beautiful colour and harmony.

I lived in the Aberdeenshire countryside and the varied changes in weather, seasons and manmade structures all influenced my landscape paintings, and so I was also interested in the Tuscan landscape; quite different from mine, with its terraced fields, olive groves, orchards and farmhouses with their top storey dovecots. Colour and texture is important in my painting, and I loved the faded colours of the buildings, the dusty pinks and ochres of the fields. Sketching and painting en plein
air again was a pleasure, and valuable when I returned home.


Wilma Dunbar, Landscape near Volterra, RSA Collection

What was the impact on your practice?
Back home, as I began my Masters’ year, my work became more experimental. There were new possibilities with composition. and different media to work with. I was happy to win the Landscape Prize at the Students’ RSA exhibition that year, and the Post Office Purchase Prize (P I H) with works inspired by my time in Florence.

Three of the Kinross scholars and myself were given an exhibition at the Wild Boar Gallery, Aberdeen. We still keep in touch to this day ….all still painting after twenty eight years!


What would you say the long term impact has been on yourself and you work?
My first time in Florence will always be very special to me – I enjoyed doing the research it entailed, the people, the different culture, all the artwork and sights I saw there, have had an enduring impact on me and my practice ever since.