Elaine Speirs was born in Johannesburg and moved to Paisley as a child. Her childhood experiences in and between these two places spurred an interest in the themes of fragility, contradiction and reinvention that recur throughout her work.
Speirs explores the stark contrast she observes between the rich contours of femalepersonhood and the depersonalised portraits of women that appear in the public sphere.
Referencing a variety of imagery – ranging from eighteenth century portraiture to contemporary photography and film – the work reclaims the fleeting moments of humanity.
Speirs glimpses in these images, establishing a tentative connection between the distant and the intimate, between the universal and the personal.
Beautiful Regrets has an uneasy coexistence of contradictory states: strength and vulnerability, loneness and hope, love and despair. Speirs examines these tensions by capturing fleeting moments of humanity with Franco Zeffirellis 1968 film Romeo and Juliet.
Speirs examines these tensions by employing a dynamic technique of wiping and layering that suggests the human process of erasure and reinvention. We are left with a series of momentary resolutions that contain both clarity and a sense of contingency.
Speirs trained at Edinburgh College of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art in London. A regular exhibitor at the RSA, with VSA, and at the SSA, she has also exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London. Her awards include the Glasgow Club Award (2012), the Caron Keating Memorial Award, Mall Galleries, London (2012) and the John Purcell Works on Paper Award, Mall Galleries (2015). She was shortlisted for the National Open Art Competition (2014), the Threadneedle Painting Prize (2014), W Gordon Smith Award (2016) and selected for the BP Portrait Award (2019). She lives in Edinburgh with her three daughters.
1996 – 97 Education Institute, UCL, PGCE
1993 – 95 Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, M.A.
1989 – 93 Edinburgh College of Art, B.A. Hons
2019 AndGallery, Edinburgh, Beautiful Regrets
2017 Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh, Portrait of Her
2014 And Collective, Bridge of Allan, No Small Dreams
2013 Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh, Lost Sleep
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2020 Glimpse of Gold, Patriothall Gallery, Edinburgh
2019 BP Portrait Award, National Portrait Gallery, London
2018 AndGallery, Edinburgh
2017 Basel, Switzerland Art Fair, Arusha Gallery
2016 Shortlisted W.Gordon Smith Award, Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh
2016 SSA Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
2015 Thompson’s Gallery, London, Portrait Show
2015 Summer Exhibition, Gallery Heinzel, Aberdeen
2015 Scottish Summer Exhibition, Thompson’s Gallery, London
2015 Mall Galleries, London
2014 Paisley Art Institute, Paisley
2014 Aberdeen Art Gallery
2013 SWA, The Mall Galleries, London
2013 VAS, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
2013 SSA, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
2013 Aberdeen National Gallery
2012 Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh
2012 Award Winners’ Show, Glasgow Art Club
2012 Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
2012 Shortlisted National Open Art Competition
2012 Kelly Gallery, Glasgow
2012 Aberdeen National Gallery
2012 Paisley Institute Drawing Competition
2011 Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh
2011 “Quartet”, Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh
2011 VAS, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
2010 RSA, Edinburgh
2015 Purcell Works on Paper Award, Mall Galleries, London
2013 Caron Keating Memorial Art Award, Mall Galleries, London
2012 Glasgow Art Club Award