Patsy McArthur



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Sea Swimmer I, 110cm x 110cm, charcoal on paper, 2019

Vortex, 100cm x 100cm, charcoal on paper, 2018

Heavenbound III, 88cm x 108cm, charcoal on paper, 2016


I deal with various themes in my work but in many of the images, there is a common feeling of strength and liberation. I strive to make images that convey a sense of power and energy or potential energy. In recent years, much of the work deals with figures in motion or transition and alludes to movement through psychological states.

Drawing and draftsmanship have been at the forefront of my practice since my student days and continue to play a crucial role. I enjoy the directness of drawing and I find that monochrome work serves to strip the image down, without colour to seduce, it focuses on the content. Over the years, I’ve worked with freerunners, acrobats and trampolinists and have a certain obsession with capturing motion through drawing. This year, I have been filming horses to draw from and the power, grace and energy that comes from the horse in movement has been a fantastic inspiration.

With my underwater work, I try to emphasise the “otherness” that comes with being submerged below the surface. I aim to capture the interplay of light, colour and water. I paint figures in pools, lakes and the open sea; all of which present their own technical challenges through different transparencies of water. With these paintings, I am trying to create a place that the viewer can really feel; a place with a temperature and a sensation of suspension and weightlessness. The larger the scale of the work, the greater the feeling of immersion for the viewer. The range of sensations shifts from painting to painting. There are obvious links with the “dry land” work and suspension and motion are present in both.


I studied painting in Aberdeen in the north east of Scotland, very cold and grey and at times a bit grim. From there, I spent some months in Florence on an RSA scholarship which was a very productive time for me and gave me a taste for the sun. I find it difficult to stay still and, since completing a Masters degree in Barcelona in 2000, I have been fortunate enough to be able to spend significant periods of time abroad. Over the years, I have lived and worked in Australia, Spain, Berlin and New York and I am now based in Brighton, UK.


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