The first time I saw a work by Pat Douthwaite was at the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art in the early 1990s. The large oil picture was “Death of Amy Johnson” part of a series of paintings based on the life of the pioneer pilot Amy Johnson, now in the collection at National Galleries Scotland.
Pat Douthwaite was born on July 28 1934 in Glasgow where at the age of 13 she started studying mime, movement and modern dance with Margaret Morris, the celebrated British dancer and choreographer. She showed some of her pictures to Morris’s husband, Scottish Colourist JD Fergusson who recognised a formidable talent, although he dissuaded her from going to art school. Margaret Morris and JD Fergusson were the most important influences of Douthwaite’s youth.
Aged 24 she moved to East Anglia where she lived among a group of artists including Scots expatriates Robert Colquhoun and Robert McBride, and William Crozier who introduced her to the distinguished artist and illustrator Paul Hogarth (1917-2001). Pat and Paul married in 1963 and for the next few years lived in England and in Déjà, Majorca with their son Toby where they were neighbours and friends of the writer Robert Graves.
After around 10 years Pat left Paul Hogarth and began a nomadic existence travelling to many countries around the world. Nicknamed, The High Priestess of the Grotesque in British Art, Pat exhibited regularly, her highly individual style was often considered outside the confines of mainstream art, and it is only since her death in 2001 that her art is achieving the public success she deserved.