Avril Paton has always had a special place in the hearts of Glasgwegians. Her charming depictions of city life have made her one of the most loved painters in Scotland, and her iconic watercolour painting of a Glasgow tenement, Windows in the West, is one of the most popular pieces of art hanging in Kelvingrove Museum.
Keen to avoid the fate of many commercial artists - regurgitating varying versions of the same scene - Paton only did ten tenement paintings. It therefore gives us great pleasure to offer for sale one such example in this month’s Scottish Contemporary Art Auction.
Topping Out Day depicts the final days of a roof repair job, where the owners and agents have come to inspect the finished result. Painted in 1996, Paton captured this scene very much in the same way as her iconic Windows in the West. After observing the process over a number of weeks, Paton’s Dickensian love of people watching once again compelled her to paint the job’s final days in the twinkling light of the early morning.
Paton herself has since recalled the instant regret upon starting the painting as she realised she had the most meticulous task of recreating the roof, slate by slate. “I’d achieved an intensity of the picture by making it very precise, and although that was against my nature totally to paint like that, that’s what made the paintings work”. From her window in Athole Gardens – the heart of Glasgow’s west-end, Paton captured the remainder of the building in another work which she called The Pleasure Gardens which depicts the back of a block of tenements in the snow.
Although Paton has left her tenement paintings behind her, choosing instead to focus more on abstraction, these pieces continue to capture the public’s imagination and provide us with a warm, nostalgic and familiar feeling as we ponder the lives of the painting’s inhabitants.
Topping Out Day is lot 674 in Sunday’s sale and carries an auction estimate of £5000-8000.
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