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Douthwaite, Patricia Morgan Graham [Pat] (1934–2002), artist, was born on 28 July 1934 in a nursing home at 29 Park Circus, Glasgow, the daughter of Thomas Leslie Douthwaite, a chemicals salesman for ICI, and his wife, (Winifred) Rachael, née McKean. Throughout her life Douthwaite gave the year of her birth as 1939. This act of self-presentation and disregard for objective fact helped to place Douthwaite in a theatrical tradition to which, in one sense or another, she belonged all her life. ‘I'm in my own play. I'm directing and acting it’, she once said (Rice, ‘Pat Douthwaite’).

The most important influences of Douthwaite's youth were provided by the dancer and impresario Margaret Morris and her husband, the colourist painter J. D. Fergusson. Morris and Fergusson were obliged by the war to return from France to Glasgow in 1939 and created an ‘art scene’ there which attracted wartime birds of passage including Josef Herman and Jankel Adler. Morris ran classes in expressive dance which Douthwaite attended from 1947, when she turned thirteen (not eight, as she later claimed). Douthwaite later said that Fergusson encouraged her to paint. But he gave her no instruction beyond telling her to look at landscape in terms of light, and could not be said to have made her into an artist. She fared better with Morris, becoming part of her Celtic Ballet and appearing with them in 1954 at the Jacob's Pillow Theatre in Massachusetts, founded by Ted Shawn. She continued to dance for her own and others' amusement but did not pursue it professionally thereafter.

By 1958 Douthwaite had decided to be a painter, but did not seek to enter art school. She knew that the painter William Crozier, whom she had met in Glasgow, was living in part of a large house at Pebmarsh in Essex, and invited herself to stay. This was later represented as joining a community of artists, even a commune. There were indeed numbers of artists living in Essex and Suffolk, as dissimilar as John Bratby, Joe Tilson, Edward Bawden, Michael Rothenstein, and Crozier himself, but they were scattered over a wide area. Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde, with whom Douthwaite liked to associate herself, had returned to London in 1954. Douthwaite's true relationship with all these artists, if any, is as yet unclear.

It was through Crozier that Douthwaite met the successful artist and illustrator , with whom she formed a liaison. She married Hogarth on 2 February 1963 (not 1960 as usually stated), as his third wife; they had one son, Toby. The class rebel soon found herself living an affluent lifestyle in houses in Cambridge and Majorca. Hogarth was no bourgeois and their circle, including Robert Graves, was far from restrictive. But it was also older, more experienced and worldly wise, and predominantly male, all of which bruised her fragile sense of self-worth. Tensions increased when Douthwaite began to show herself a considerable artist to rival Hogarth himself.

About 1970 Douthwaite left Hogarth and began the nomadic existence which lasted until her death, although they were not divorced until 1981. Douthwaite, perennially short of money, would set her heart on some place where she thought she could settle and paint, and sometimes achieved it. Disenchantment always followed. She lived for periods in York, Edinburgh, Dumfriesshire, and Berwick upon Tweed, and at first managed to travel, to such destinations as north Africa, India, and Peru. Human relationships were a problem and were usually soured by Douthwaite's accusatory tactics. Thus this woman with the instincts of a performer, to whom rapport and approbation were all-important, came to be destructively alone. While living in Edinburgh she was severely assaulted, leaving her subject to constant attacks of pain. Her relationship with her mother deteriorated to the point where she was accused of attacking her, and made an appearance in court. As her health and wealth declined, she alarmed her contacts with professed suicide attempts. Yet she still kept going, and had gone to Dundee to work at the print studio there, when she died alone of a heart attack at the Queen's Hotel on 26 July 2002. She was survived by her son Toby.

Douthwaite's work accurately reflected her unstable and troubled life. Equipped with a mordant eye and unwavering hand, she formed herself as an artist at a time when a knowing primitivism and a satirical view of humanity were among the keys to critical esteem. Theatrical flair and design chic were never uppermost in her work but were sufficiently present to ensure that however bizarre her images they were never inexpressive or clumsy. Rejecting the painterly colourism of the Glasgow school, she became one of the great exponents of line. Once the over-complication of her earliest work had been tamed by the prevailing reductionism of the time, her fundamental visual language never changed. Nevertheless, however fascinating Douthwaite's visual language can be, it was her iconography that sealed her uniqueness. The absurdity and suffering of humanity, particularly female humanity, constituted all her work, and she made out of it a sort of splendour. Much of her work was covert self-portraiture, and where she portrayed another female persona, such as the aviator Amy Johnson, or the early film goddess Theda Bara, it was because she saw herself in them. She used animals also as surrogates for herself. Her visits abroad may have been attempts to find subject matter outside her own subjective frame of reference.

To judge merely from the number of her solo exhibitions (twenty-nine listed in the catalogue of her memorial show at the Scottish Gallery in 2005), Douthwaite was a successful artist. She received awards, and is represented in at least seven museums, including the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Yet apart from a core of supporters in Scotland and the north of England, during her lifetime she could never rely on adequate critical or financial reception of her exhibitions, and she never penetrated the metropolitan art world. Her personal life was disastrous and her erratic behaviour and abrasive character made her supporters' task difficult. In her lifetime she was compared to the peintres maudits of early twentieth-century Paris, such as Modigliani and Soutine. It is possible that her work may see a posthumous revaluation similar to theirs.

Douglas Hall

Sources  

C. Oliver and D. Hall, Douthwaite: paintings and drawings, 1951–1988 [exhibition catalogue, Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, February 1988] · sale catalogue (1989) [Christies, Glasgow, 21 Sept 1989] · S. Rice, ‘Pat Douthwaite’, Alba, June/July (1950) · catalogue of proposed studio sale, Phillips Edinburgh, 1 Sept 1994 [sale cancelled] · D. Hall, Pat Douthwaite: retrospective, 1960–2000 (2000) [exhibition catalogue, Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, 5–28 June 2000] · The Times (31 July 2002) · The Herald [Glasgow] (2 Aug 2002) · The Scotsman (6 Aug 2002) · The Independent (14 Aug 2002) · 19th and 20th century paintings, to include Scottish contemporary art and prints (2002) [sale catalogue, Bonhams, Edinburgh, 17 Oct 2002] · G. Peploe, Pat Douthwaite 1934–2002: a memorial exhibition (2005) [exhibition catalogue, Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, 10 Jan – 2 Feb 2005] · personal knowledge (2006) · private information (2006) · b. cert. · m. cert. · d. cert. · will of Patricia Douthwaite or Hogarth, 24 March 1997