Alison Watt | A Kind of Longing

3 Feb 2023 – 10 Mar 2023

Regular hours

11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00

Free admission

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Tristan Hoare

England, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Warren Street Station, Great Portland Street Station
  • Euston, Kings Cross St Pancras
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In a unique collaboration, Tristan Hoare and Parafin are delighted to announce an exhibition of new work by Alison Watt.


The exhibition continues Watt’s ongoing engagement with the practice of the celebrated eighteenth-century Scottish portrait painter Allan Ramsay (1713-84), first showcased in her acclaimed exhibition, A Portrait Without Likeness, at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh in 2021.

As the architect Robert Adam was part of Ramsay’s circle (and sat for a portrait by Ramsay in 1755), Watt expressed a wish to show her new paintings in an Adam interior. This created an opportunity for a special collaboration between Parafin and Tristan Hoare, as our gallery is housed in a Grade I listed Georgian house in Fitzroy Square, which was designed by Robert Adam just before his death in 1792. The building was completed by Adam’s brothers James and William in 1798.

Watt’s new paintings originate in the artist’s continuing fascination with Ramsay’s portraits and the drawings and sketchbooks from his extensive archive held by the National Galleries of Scotland, to which she was granted special access. In this new body of work, one can observe how the subtle shifts in tone and colour are influenced by Ramsay’s own palette. Watt, best known for her paintings of fabric and drapery, has long been an admirer of Ramsay’s portraits of women, in particular the intensely personal images of his first and second wives, Anne Bayne (d. 1743) and Margaret Lindsay of Evelick (1726-82) respectively. Taking objects that appear in Ramsay’s portraits and drawings – including books, a cabbage leaf, lacework, feathers and roses – as signs or symbols of aspects of the sitter’s life and character, Watt’s new paintings are neither portraits nor still lives, but instead extraordinary hybrids of both genres.

Speaking of the opportunity to work with Watt, Tristan said: “I have long been an admirer of Alison’s painting and I am delighted to collaborate on this exhibition with Parafin, in which the conceptual and aesthetic synergy between the artworks and the 18th century architecture will be evident.” 

Parafin founders Ben and Matt comment on the chance to collaborate with Tristan: “We’re always looking for ways to collaborate with friends and colleagues. In the current moment, it feels good to share resources and opportunities. It’s an honour to work with Tristan and his team to bring this remarkable group of paintings to London and fulfil Alison’s vision for her work.”

A Kind of Longing takes its title from an essay by art historian Dr Tom Normand, who contributed to the exhibition catalogue of A Portrait Without Likeness at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 2021. Normand notes that “the physical presence of [Watt’s subjects], resting within their neutral and uncertain ground, is disconcerting. They appear to speak to a connection that is lost, or only half- remembered. A kind of longing.” The exhibition will continue until 10th March 2023 at 6 Fitzroy Square.

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Alison Watt


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