Rated one of the finest artists our area ever produced, the late Christian Small’s memory and talents will be celebrated at a major show in Biggar
and Upper Clydesdale Museum from Friday until May 26.
Christian Small lived and painted in West Linton for over 60 years and until recently her work has been virtually unknown beyond her local community. She was born in 1925 in Dundee, growing up in the shadow of two world wars, the legacies of which impacted on Christian and her family.
After graduating in chemistry at the University of St. Andrews, she applied for a job, but when the company discovered that she was a woman, she received a letter of rejection, stating “We regret your sex.”
Christian married, had five children, and divorced. Like many women of her generation, she didn’t seek employment again until her children had grown up.
Although battling with great personal loss, Christian immersed herself in her art, creating a huge body of work - domestic objects, people, and, above all, the local landscape of the Pentland Hills, where she loved to walk.
She sold very few of her paintings, often giving them away, storing many in her children’s old cot in the bedroom of her tiny cottage.
She died, age 90, in 2016. At her funeral gathering in West Linton, her children and a number of her friends brought along Christian’s paintings to share with others. Seeing these beautiful works of art in one place, it became clear that there should be a retrospective exhibition.
Christian’ work was gathered from their various owners, and an exhibition was mounted in West Linton Visitor Centre in August 2016.
The result was something of a revelation. The remarkable quality and range, and also the astonishing quantity of the artist’s work, in many different media – pencil, charcoal, pen and ink, water colour, and a series of exquisite, masterly collages, using fragments of coloured tissue paper, cardboard and newspaper, was finally revealed.
It led to calls for a Biggar showing of her work, a demand that will be met from Friday onwards.
The exhibition is open during normal Museum opening hours.