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Vivien Blackett

Artist-in-Residence at the National Gallery between 1986 and 1987

Vivien Blackett (1986–7)

Vivien Blackett (b.1956) was Artist-in-Residence at the National Gallery between October 1986 and March 1987. In the 1980s, Blackett was known for her dreamlike paintings that combined elements of still-life and landscape. Painted in vivid luminescent colour, her pictures juxtaposed objects of different sizes in imagined landscapes. Blackett said that she aimed to capture 'imagined or remembered moods' in her paintings and convey 'a sense of place'. Blackett studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths (197478) and held her first solo exhibition at the Spitalfields Health Centre in Whitechapel (1985).    

Having spent the summer of 1986 in Northern Italy, Blackett was particularly drawn to the early Italian paintings during her residency. She wrote that she was especially interested in the backgrounds of early Italian pictures, looking closely at the pavilions, rocks and trees included in them. Blackett also admired the 'clarity and simplicity' of Duccio’s Annunciation and the 'calm serenity' of Giovanni Bellini’s paintings, 'using the reflection of light on pure colour'. She found that she used the collection in an 'unpremeditated' way, coming across paintings by chance that later informed the development of her work.

Blackett felt that her residency at the National Gallery was hugely beneficial. In the hand-out produced to accompany the exhibition, she wrote that she began to use greater contrasts of light and dark in her paintings, ensuring that the objects she depicted became more substantial and tangible. There was also a 'greater sense of depth of space', she felt of her new works, 'especially in the larger paintings'.    

An exhibition of paintings and drawings that Blackett produced during her residency held in the Artist-in-Resident’s studio between 1 and 31 July 1987.    

In 1992, Blackett was Artist-in-Residence at the Camden Arts Centre. In 2007, she held a solo exhibition at the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, inspired by imagery in the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine. She has also held solo exhibitions at the Salisbury Arts Centre (2010) and the Quay Arts Centre on the Isle of Wight (2002.)   

'The Three Hills' (19867), a painting that the artist completed during her residency, is included in the National Gallery’s History Collection.