Maverick artist at work

'In Harbour' (priced �1200) is one of Erick Ritchie's  works being exhibited at the Doubtfire Gallery, Edinburgh, his first solo exhibition for over 30 years and 60 years after his first solo exhibition.
'In Harbour' (priced �1200) is one of Erick Ritchie's works being exhibited at the Doubtfire Gallery, Edinburgh, his first solo exhibition for over 30 years and 60 years after his first solo exhibition.

Coldingham based artist Eric Ritchie is about to embark on his first solo exhibition for almost 35 years.

The 80-year-old artist has never stopped painting and demand for his work has never slowed either, but for various reasons he has chosen to exhibit in mixed shows since 1981, including the RSA.

Now he’s coming out of the shadows and back into the limelight with a solo exhibition at the Doubtfire Gallery in Edinburgh, starting this weekend.

There will also be a retrospective exhibition at the Watchtower Gallery, Berwick, in June this year.

Eric and his wife Rena have lived in Coldingham since 1975 and have strong links to St Abbs, which features in a number of his paintings.

Visitors to Gunsgreen House will also be familiar with Eric’s large painting above the fireplace in the drawing room which shows Dunbar excise men being ambushed by Eyemouth smugglers.

A graduade of the Edinburgh College of Art in the mid 1950s, Eric won the RSA’s Keith Prize for best work by a student and was awarded an Andrew Grant Major Travelling Scholarship, spending a year working in Italy.

His work has included theatre design and Eric was involved in an exhibition of the life and work of ballet legend Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes, prodcued for the Edinburgh Festival in 1954. That exhibition moved to Forbes House in London and earned great critical acclaim and also resulted in Eric selling his first picture - to none other than Sir Michael Redgrave, stage and film actor, director, manager and author.

“I had a horror of being obliged to stick to one area,” said Eric, who could never been described as having painted himself into a corner. His body of work includes surrealist abstractions, large scale public murals, sweeping land and seascapes, still life and book illustrations.

Described as “a witty, inquisitive and adventurous 80 year old” Eric embraced the maxim of 19th century Swiss Artist Paul Klee who said “Drawing is taking a line for a walk”, and based the title of his new solo exhibition ‘Walking a Line’on that theme.

Doubtfire Gallery describe the exhibition as: “The re-establishment of an artistic maverick.

“A rich and diverse body of work ranging from surrealist abstraction through sweeping land and seascapes, still life and book illustration, Eric Ritchie’s art embraces Paul Klee’s maxim about taking a line for a walk.”

In the 1970s and 80s Eric’s work was frequently seen in exhibitions in Edinburgh such as the Scottish Gallery as well as the Compass Gallery in Glasgow.

A period of disillusionment followed, when Eric grew uncomfortable with his place in the art establishment and he withdrew from the scene, for a number of years.

A resurgence of interest in his work, however, has tempted him back into the solo spotlight again, 60 years after his very first solo exhibition.

All pictures in the Doubtfire Gallery exhibition are for sale - pen and ink drawings starting at £200, and oils going up to £1500.

‘Walking A Line’ by Eric Ritchie is showing at the Doubtfire Gallery, South East Circus Place, Edinburgh from Saturday, March 7, until Saturday, April 4, 2015 (open: Monday to Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 12 noon-5pm).

Eric Ritchie’s retrospective exhibition in the Watchtower Gallery, Berwick, from Saturday, June 13, to Friday, July 10, 2015.