Eileanach: Na dealbhan aig Dòmhnall Mac a’ Ghobhainn
Born in rural Lewis in 1926, Donald Smith was uniquely placed to connect the Gaelic world of the West with the English-speaking mainstream. He left the island to study at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, continuing to live and work in Aberdeenshire until his return to the island in 1974.
While working as a portrait painter and teacher, Smith developed a contemporary approach to painting which acknowledged movements in Europe and America but remained resolutely local in its subject. Being one of a few post-war Scottish artists responding to swift social and cultural change, he saw himself as an outward looking Gael, with one foot in the culture of mainland Scotland, and one in the Hebrides.
Living in a crofting community on the West Side of Lewis from 1974 to his death in 2014, a steady flow of portraits, large oil panels and works on paper emerged from his studio. Island fishermen and women were transformed into iconic images of working people. Developed from many hundreds of drawings and photographs, these are intensely lyrical paintings, celebrating the indomitability of the human spirit. Developed in partnership with An Lanntair in Stornoway, this is the first major retrospective of Smith’s work.