I was born in Sidcup Kent and have lived most of my life in S E London and Kent.

I studied Fine Art as a mature student at Ravensbourne College of Art and Design in the 1980s graduating in 1986.

On graduating I worked as a teacher in higher, further, secondary and adult education, in many disciplines including   life drawing, water colour, drawing and painting.  I worked with students of differing ages, abilities and levels.  I also delivered teacher education to those working in the post 16 educational sector.  Having gained an MA in Education I later moved into educational management.

After retiring in December 2017 as Principal of a large adult and community college in S E London I was able to intensify my practice as a painter, and have also been able to devote more time to my interest in music, singing and writing lyrics for my band Rugosa Hips.

At Art College I developed my interest in a wide range of painters from Cezanne, Braque and Picasso to the American Abstract Expressionists and was drawn to the work of the Cornish school of painters, for example, Barns Graham, Heron and Lanyon.  Post college I established an interest working from the life model and more latterly still life and interiors.

As still life become more of a preoccupation, the work of Giorgio Morandi , Prunella Clough,  Henri Fantin Latour and Henri Matisse,  has informed my visual exploration.  More recently, which reflects some of the current direction in my own work, I have been looking at the work of the 19th century painter Marianne North, Serephinede de Senlis, Georgia O’Keefe.

My subject matter is easily obtained objects that are around me in my living space, eg lemons, pots, flowers and plants.

The preparatory process always starts with observational drawings/watercolour sketches. The ideas are then developed using these first explorations to make further pieces of work using mixed media – ink, soft pastels and gouache. I consider these works on paper to be pieces of work in their own right, but they are integral to the process of making final pieces of work using oils on canvas; sometimes a single painting or a series from the same starting point.

In turn this process is about developing a visual language that will express my search for the innate beauty of my subject matter, but also about developing my search for my own  visual voice  to express my thoughts/emotions about being a woman;  my body, my feelings, birth, life, aging, decay and finally death.

A wealth of symbolism is already attached to flowers and plants. I find it interesting to explore the dualism of flower/plant symbolism; the Christian notion of the flower as the symbol of chastity, as opposed to the Greco Roman tradition (and possibly older) of flowers/plants as emblems of spring, new life, regeneration and the impulse to procreation. In addition the use of the flower as a stereotypical symbol of femininity or woman, aligning women closely with nature and the notion of woman imprisoned within her biology. As the innocent vessel of the life bearing force or the bearer of uncontrollable and instinctive sexual desires.

In the past the painting of flowers/plants was regarded as a lesser genre; and therefore acceptable for women to pursue this area. In addition I suspect that is it is possibly the least theorised.

‘But maybe the flower painting has always been like a gangsters bouquet – inside, there’s a machine gun’ (Andrew Graham Dixon. 1992)


Rosie Eaglen

February 2020

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