Understanding Audrey

THE story of Audrey Dargie’s art work is being told at the latest exhibition at the Bank Street Gallery in Kirriemuir.

Do you think the cavemen were like us: those who looked at the walls of their neighbours’ caves and said “nice!” and those who said “that doesn’t look like a mammoth!”? From time immemorial, art has embraced - and alienated.

Then there are the inbetweeners who like a bonny picture but are challenged by anything that strays into abstraction. There is no question that many feel undermined by an inability to “understand” - and the route to alienation and exclusion beckons. No artist wants to lose an audience down that path.

If you recognise the route, Audrey Dargie is the artist for you. Her story is the reality of what art is truly all about. Forget galleries and critics. Listen to her story.

Dargie hails from the north east of Scotland and was born into a typical hardworking family. Inevitably influenced by societal calvinism and the gods of “hard work”, priorities were always to ensure that food was on the table.

Like many a child, she found herself drawing from an early age. Proud that she might live his dream, her father connected with her in an enthusiasm for familiar images casting up unusual shadows, playing with light and finding form in clouds, leaves, open fires.

But Audrey was forced to develop emotionally when she was much too young to understand what was happening around her. As an infant and again as a child she experienced close familial bereavement, a poignant journey no one would wish for and the consequences of which few of us have had to endure.

But the wee Audrey Dargie learnt how to carry the maelstrom with her and found herself marching on. Interestingly, she reflects now that her march was without direction, but it was always onwards. She left school quickly, attended a commercial art course at college and soon found herself working in the oil industry in Aberdeen.

Her art kept “coming out”. A cartoon on a birthday card, a homemade poster for a social event and soon she was meeting the design needs of friends and employers. After successfully setting up and running a business with her husband and reaching an age where she recognised that the march was itself no longer fulfilling, the destination came into focus – art college.

Dargie’s whole life has been filled with the making of art for the benefit of others. The degree course shifted that focus. For the first time she was being asked to create from within her and the relatively brief journey to her very successful abstract printmaking career began.

Dargie graduated BA (Hons) in Fine Art & Printmaking from Gray’s School of Art in 2010.

Understanding Dargie’s route to art is an understanding of art itself. Her show at the Bank Street Gallery runs until June 15.