'mearns man' (2001)

longer bio

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Francis Convery RSA, studied Painting at Edinburgh College of Art as an Undergraduate and Postgraduate (1979-84). Teaching at ECA part time in the mid 1980s, before Joining Grays School of Art in Aberdeen in 1988, where he was 'Head of Painting' between 1997 and 2011.

Convery’s Paintings, have continued to express and reference ‘landscape’ as an idea and ‘the figure’ as an emotional player... the visual impact on 'arcadia' and the 'bathers' condition, has retained his fascination, explored separately and together, both figuratively and abstractly.

While trained and skilled as an observational painter, Convery often works without any visual reference or plan. Living and working in rural Angus, (north east Scotland), his paintings are about, rather than of, this landscape, the rich texture of the 'Mearns', providing a tangible context for his metaphoric players... the Scottish glen or sandy beach (home and away), reflect the struggle for contrast and its conflicting emotional fallout.

For the past decade, his vast studios with their high ceilings and the cold, still, Georgian proportions that uniquely energise creative spaces, have encouraged scale and a fluid execution of the work

Relying on intuition, rapid revisions, painted, with swathes of paint, sweet harmonies and explosive, contrasts, his paintings are captured recollections, bather bodies struggle for colour and life, within swathes of salmon pinks or peacock blues, contrasted with blacks and golds…

Each stage of his works’ gestation, is prompted by an impartial yet radical critical response to the earlier studio session, where the ideas and their solutions emerge organically from the instinctive adjustments.

This, extemporising model, also mirrors his methods in dealing with the contrasting demands of ‘the studio’ and the unscripted other stuff (life), each aspect redirecting the focus of his painting, altering and influencing a course of events, both complimentary yet conflicting in their activities.

For Convery, the archive of memory gives overt material presence to a broad range of cultural myths and metaphors—from the ancient Greco Roman to the Caledonian Duns Scotus and his subtle thoughts on ‘thisness’. Fusing art and art history, painting and collage, Convery engages the complex past and the ancestral epics of life and landscape. He integrates, expands, and regenerates imagery with a visual sensuality, emphasising the enduring value of painting. 

To characterise his work in art label terms (though probably unhelpful)... his work comes out of modernism, so can’t help being literally ‘post-modern’ and at its core, remains like the modernists, largely committed to the visual traditions of art.

Looking at work over 3 decades now, It’s easier to tag Convery’s paintings as Postmodern, having produced a range of images which alternate between what the modernists referred to as ‘figurative’ and ‘abstract’.

Interpretation is everything for Convery; reality only comes into being through our interpretation of what the world means to us as individuals, echoing the postmodern sentiment that reality is not just about likeness or its common understanding but rather the conscious position we might adopt, as we try to understand our own personal reality.

His postmodern take, relies on his experiences being expressed through abstracted principles, believing that the outcome of one's own experience will necessarily be subjective and relative, rather than certain or universal; form changes will not only be necessary but inevitable.

Since 'Postmodernism' carefully avoids a specific subject, style or explanation that would claim validity for all under its banner...but instead, focuses on the relative truths of each artist... it would be suitably applied here to Convery's work.



Prizes & Awards etc
: -

1982  ECA Rowney Competition 1st Prize for Painting.

1983  Awarded The Carnegie Travelling Scholarship for Painting.

        Royal Scottish Academy.

        The Keith Prize, RSA for Painting.

        The John Kinross travelling Scholarship to Florence.

1984  The Latimer Award, RSA for Painting.

1988  Cite Internationale des Artes (short residency) Paris.

1985  The Largo Award, RSA for Painting.

1992  The Scottish Post Office Board Award, RSA.

1993  The Highland Society of London Award.

1994  Elected Associate Royal Scottish Academician.

1995  Shell Expro Award for Painting.

1996  Elected president of Aberdeen Artists Society.

1997  Commended ‘The Hunting Art Prizes’.

2001  Sir William Gillies Award (visit to Berlin).

2005  Elected Royal Scottish Academician.

2008  William J Macaulay / Scottish Gallery Award, RSA for Painting.

2010  Elected to Council, Royal Scottish Academy.

2012  C.R.Mackintosh Residency, Collioure, France.

2013 RSA New Contemporaries, Edinburgh (Exhibition Convenor)

Exhibitions: -

1984  Edinburgh University, Festival Club.

1984  Mercury Gallery, Edinburgh.

1988  Andrew Grant Gallery, ECA.

1991  New Paintings, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh.

1995  New Work, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh.

1998  artwise, British Airways, Aberdeen.

1999  artwise, British Airways, Aberdeen. 

2001  Collins C di Boli Gallery, Loyola University, Louisiana, USA.

Selected (last 15 years) Exhibitions include: -

1997  The Hunting Art Prizes, Royal College of Art.

1997  Hunterian Museum, Glasgow.

1997  Fresh Paint, Edinburgh City Art Centre.

1998  Newport Museum and Art Galleries, Wales.

1999 ‘Northern Lights’ Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh.

1999 ‘2000 Scottish Exhibition’, Albemarle Gallery, London.

2005  ‘Painters in Parallel’, Aberdeen City Art Gallery.

2009  ‘Group Show’ Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh.

2009 (in)visible, Grays School of Art, Aberdeen.

2010 (in)cubis, Grays School of Art, Aberdeen.

2011 (in)sight noesis, Grays School of Art, Aberdeen.

2011 ‘Northern Lights’ The Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh.

2016 'W Gordon Smith Award Exhibition' Dovecot Gallery, Edinburgh

1983-2016 (33) Annual RSA Exhibitions, Edinburgh.

Selected International group Exhibitions: -

1984  Akademie Der Bildenden Kunste, Munich.

1985  Edinburgh/Dublin, Edinburgh International Festival, ECA.

1986  Water Tower Art Foundation, Louisville Kentucky, USA.

1988  The Fruitmarket Gallery, ‘Open’ Exhibition, Edinburgh.

1991  20th Century British Art, RCA London & The Chicago.   

         International Art Fair, USA.

1996  Networking, Edinburgh International Festival, ECA.

1999  Hinterland, Municipality Exhibition Clemont-Ferrand, France.

2002  Francis Convery & Joyce Cairns,  Collins C di Boli Gallery, 

         Loyola University, USA.  

2003/04  ’Line Management’ (Drawing exhibition) Hunter College,    

          Manhattan, NYC, New York (touring exhibition). 

Work in Public Collections:-

Aberdeen City Art Gallery.

Aberdeen Asset Management Art Collection.

British Airways Contemporary Art Collection.

Edinburgh University Collection.

Edinburgh College of Art Collection.

Edinburgh City Council Collection.

Edinburgh City Art Centre Collection.

Fosse Gallery, Stowe-on-the- Wold.

Grampian Hospitals Art Trust.

Mercury Gallery, London.

Paisley Art Gallery and Museums.

Robert Gordon University Collection.

Royal Scottish Academy Diploma Collection.

The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh.

Academic Career:- 

1997 – 2011 Head of Painting, Gray’s School of Art, RGU, Aberdeen.

1987 - Appointed Lecturer in Drawing & Painting, Gray’s School of Art, RGU, Aberdeen.

1983 - 1987 Part time lecturer, School of Drawing & Painting, Edinburgh College of Art.

1983 - 1984 Post Graduate Diploma in Painting (with distinction) Edinburgh College of Art.

1979 - 1983 BA Hons. First Class in Painting, Edinburgh College of Art.

1976 - 1979 Further Education & Travel.

1971 - 1975 Mechanical Engineering Apprenticeship.

1967 – 1971 St Mirins Academy, Paisley.

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