Dr. Barbara Rae, CBE, RA, RSA, Rsw, RGI

Barbara Rae’s reputation rests entirely on the power of her work. She is an artist at one with her subject, not odds with herself or the world. Her work is in constant development, never static. She has artists she admires from Goya to Diebenkorn but none she copies. Lesser painters copy her. She does not work from inert photographs, but from the immediacy from what she sees and sketches. She is driven by the need to paint, by outstanding ability, and by a compelling sense of adventure. It is this last aspect that takes her out of her studio on a regular basis around the world in search of inspiration and, in the case of this exhibition, to the mountains of southern Spain, to the Alpujarra region.

There was a time when the jagged mountain range of the Sierra Nevada was an inhospitable place lying on its side. Only a few farmers, their goats and marauding linx made it their home. Today, thanks to generous EEC grants, there are modern roads zigzagging up to villages, and Internet piped into far-flung fincas. Even so, Barbara prefers the wild, vertiginous mountain terraces where no tarred road brands Nature's contours. She often returns to Orgiva, Capiliera and Bulbion; high vilages in the Andalucia region kissed by passing clouds. She enjoys being amongst "eccentrics" : farmers with sun-beaten, grizzled faces riding mules from finca to field and back again; and "hippies," a patchwork of disparate Europeans who cut loose from their soulless urban surroundings years ago to head for the hills. Viva Espana!

You might come across her sitting by the side of a mountain path under an incongruous Bank of Scotland umbrella, knee deep in acrylis paints and sketch books, a bottle of Antonio Barbadillo on one side, a botle of water on the other - only one is for drinking - surrounded by a carcophony of cicadas, another "eccentric" hardly worth a second glance. Barbara prefers it that way so no one disturbs her creative flow. Sometimes she paints a wide view of the landscape, sometimes an intimate element, someties a confluence of fence and telegraph posts, or a tangle of vegetation. Knowing why is irrelevant; seeing light and colour and form as she does together with a zest for life is teh gift she shares with us. We bask in the glow. We feel googd. We feel alive.

Observe her studies hanging in a major gallery next to the work of male contemporaries and you have the perfect demonstration of her pronounced skills. She is a Scottish artist of international significance, justly recognised. She needs no celebrities, tabloid headline, press officer, or scurrilous private life to promote her career, only a brush, water, pigment......and a glittering landscape like Spain. Now, isn't great art produced that way?

Gareth Wardell, August 2006