Christian Small lived and painted in the Scottish Borders village of West Linton for over 60 years. Until now, her work has been virtually unknown beyond her local community. Christian immersed herself in her art, creating a huge body of work - domestic objects, people, and, above all, the local landscape of the Pentland Hills, where she loved to walk. She sold very few of her paintings, often giving them away. Her work was of remarkable quality and range in many different media. Her choice of subjects was wonderfully imaginative: pears on a window sash, an armchair with slippers, her paint box - all so evocative of her life. Her landscapes were drawn from around the village, their colour and draftsmanship brilliantly capturing the countryside she loved: wind-bent trees, pale green grasses and the rolling Pentland Hills.
This beautiful volume comprises 108 pages of exquisite art work in full colour. Photographed by Jim Pratt, and designed by Simon Fraser, it includes a biographical introduction by the writer Gerda Stevenson. It also includes photos of Christian and her family from different periods of her long life. Woven in and out of the paintings are poems by Gerda, and Christian’s thoughts in prose as imagined with poignant eloquence by her daughter Jenny Alldridge.
‘One of the most beautiful books ever published in Scotland.’
‘A perfect Winter book - a real comforter (a very tough and thought-provoking brand of comfort, though). How to winter... how to get older... it might not be as bad as we fear, says this book, if the creativity lasts on us. Every picture tells a story, and this selection tells of lifetime creativity. Still-lifes, glowing, domestic, ordinary and marvellous, portrait studies full of the sitter’s life and individuality, the intimate landscapes daily walked in. Small things observed, relished. Reading the book from cover to cover knocked me out. Jenny Alldridge, Small’s daughter, contributes delicate imaginative prose-pieces in the internal voice of her famously reticent mother. Gerda Stevenson’s loving introduction is vigorously studded with telling testimony from the painter’s friends, contemporaries and family, scrupulously verbatim, sometimes funny, always vivid, a portrait of a very private character, with some difficult griefs, a principled, peace-loving and courageous, but not always easy woman. Stevenson’s marvellous poems, in the imagined voice of the painter, are all full of the “fierce tang of bitter milk coursing through” them.’
‘A gem of a book, and a fitting tribute to a gifted, but as yet little known artist.’