Biography

Carol Rhodes (b.1959, Edinburgh, Scotland; d.2018, Glasgow, Scotland) created a distinctive mode of landscape painting across her 25-year career, developing a world of semi-fictional locations that are at once familiar and ambiguous. Intimately scaled, densely rendered and typically taking an aerial viewpoint, her works depict uninhabited industrial terrains and ‘edgelands’ – factories, canals, motorways, reservoirs – described by the artist as ‘hidden areas’. Psychologically charged and often muted in colour, Rhodes’s paintings reflect on our experiences of place, the ways in which we perceive, make and adapt our environments.

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Though born in Edinburgh, Rhodes was brought up from infancy in India, living just outside Kolkata, until she relocated to the UK in her mid-teens to complete her education. She continued to visit India one or twice a year into her twenties, and her time there would prove deeply influential for her later artistic practice. Returning to West Bengal in 2012–13 to complete a residency, Rhodes noted: ‘My early experience of India (its colours, density of detail), and then the estrangement from it, has informed my work in incalculable ways’.

Further sources fed into Rhodes’s visual language. Aerial photographs, taken herself or found in illustrated books on geography and the environment, were one basis of her compositions. ‘I might use many photographs, combining different parts of them in a drawing’, she explained, ‘establishing the space, scale, colours, viewpoint’. Such preparatory drawings played an important role in this process, allowing Rhodes to create what she called ‘a fictional synthesis’ – a composition that she would then trace directly onto board as a ‘skeleton’ for a painting. Later in her career, Rhodes began to exhibit these drawings as works in their own right.

Rhodes studied at the Glasgow School of Art (1977-82) but, following her graduation, became involved in social activism, organising and participating in feminist, pacifist, gay rights and social justice campaigns. She co-founded the Glasgow Free University and, between 1986 and 1988, was part of a burgeoning group of artists associated with Transmission, the artist-led gallery of which she was a committee member. Rhodes returned to painting in 1990 and was included in such exhibitions as ‘New Art in Scotland’ (1994) at CCA Glasgow. Greater exposure came as a result of her first solo exhibition, in 1998, at Andrew Mummery Gallery, London, at which point works began to enter public collections. In 2007, a retrospective exhibition of Rhodes’s work was presented at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.

The scenes in Rhodes’s paintings might initially appear emotionally and ideologically detached, perhaps due to their composite nature. She stated that ‘the impetus is partly to create a mood, a temperature, a puzzle’. But whether in impartially illustrating environmental damage caused by industrial ravage, or in other ways registering the process of human circulation and habitation, the artist’s political awareness remained embedded in her work, albeit subtly. Rhodes spoke of being ‘spatially egalitarian […] seeing the landscape top to bottom, not near and far […] giving everything a sort of equal status in the pictures’. For related reasons, she was ‘interested by the backs of buildings and places, not the fronts’, commenting, ‘these things may sound slight in themselves, or “merely” formal, but they’re all part of what makes a painting and gives it meaning and power’.

Alison Jacques Gallery represents Carol Rhodes in partnership with the Carol Rhodes Estate, whose curator Andrew Mummery worked closely with Rhodes for much of her career.

During her lifetime, solo museum exhibitions of Rhodes’s work were presented at venues including The MAC, Belfast (2017); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2007-08); and Tramway, Glasgow (2000). ‘See the World’, the first posthumous institutional exhibition of Rhodes’s work, is scheduled to take place in 2021 at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, as part of Glasgow International Festival.

Rhodes’s work has been acquired by public collections including: Arts Council of England; Bolton Museum and Art Gallery; British Council Collection; Center for British Art, Yale; City Art Centre, Edinburgh; Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation, London; Glasgow Museums; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; Southampton City Art Gallery; Tate; and Worcester City Museums.

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Works

Airport Hotel and Airport, 1996

Pencil on paper
45 x 55 cm (17 3/4 x 21 5/8 in)
Courtesy: © Carol Rhodes Estate

Moor, 1997

Oil on board
42.7 x 47.4 cm (16 3/4 x 18 5/8 in)
Courtesy: © Carol Rhodes Estate

Inlet, 1997

Oil on board
47.5 x 40.5 cm (18 3/4 x 16 in)
Courtesy: © Carol Rhodes Estate

Sea and Motorway, 1998

Oil on board
42 x 48 cm (16 1/2 x 18 7/8 in)
Courtesy: © Carol Rhodes Estate

Industrial Landscape II, 1998

Pencil on paper
50.5 x 45.5 cm (19 7/8 x 17 7/8 in)
Courtesy: © Carol Rhodes Estate

Forest and Road, 1998

Pencil on paper
51 x 44 cm (20 1/8 x 17 3/8 in)
Courtesy: © Carol Rhodes Estate

Road and Valley, 1999

Oil on board
42 x 51 cm (16 1/2 x 20 1/8 in)
Courtesy: © Carol Rhodes Estate

Coal, 2008–09

Oil on board
54 x 64 cm (21 1/4 x 25 1/4 in)
Courtesy: © Carol Rhodes Estate

Deposits, 2009

Oil on board
60.7 x 53.8 cm (23 7/8 x 21 1/8 in)
Courtesy: © Carol Rhodes Estate

Surface Mine, 2009–11

Oil on board
50 x 56.7 cm (19 3/4 x 22 3/8 in)
Courtesy: © Carol Rhodes Estate

River, Roads, 2013

Oil on board
49.9 x 57 cm (19 5/8 x 22 1/2 in)
Courtesy: © Carol Rhodes Estate

Geothermal Site, 2014–15

Pencil on paper
60.5 x 51 cm (23 7/8 x 20 1/8 in)
Courtesy: © Carol Rhodes Estate

  • Airport Hotel and Airport, 1996
  • Moor, 1997
  • Inlet, 1997
  • Sea and Motorway, 1998
  • Industrial Landscape II, 1998
  • Forest and Road, 1998
  • Road and Valley, 1999
  • Coal, 2008–09
  • Deposits, 2009
  • Surface Mine, 2009–11
  • River, Roads, 2013
  • Geothermal Site, 2014–15

Press

ANTI-PASTORAL

Dan Ward, Texte zur Kunst

June 2021

Peripheral Visions

Jamie Limond, MAP Magazine

June 2021

Review: Carol Rhodes, Alison Jacques Gallery

Gemma Batchelor, Fleming Collection

May 2021

Review: Carol Rhodes, Alison Jacques Gallery

William Davie, The Brooklyn Rail

May 2021

Review: Carol Rhodes, Alison Jacques Gallery

Morning Star

April 2021

Carol Rhodes Obituary

David Fraser Jenkins, The Guardian

December 2018

Obituary: Carol Rhodes, Acclaimed Scottish painter

The Telegraph

December 2018

Review: Carol Rhodes, Skira

Andrew Dempsey, Burlington Contemporary

October 2018

Review: Carol Rhodes, MAC Belfast

Éanna Mac Cana, Circa

October 2018

Edgelands: The Paintings of Carol Rhodes

David Cohen, Artcritical

May 2018

Carol Rhodes’s Landscapes of Uncertainty

Mark Prince, ArtReview

December 2017

Road to Nowhere

Rosie Lesso, The List

January 2008

Art in Review: Carol Rhodes

Ken Johnson, The New York Times

January 2002

Exhibitions

Carol Rhodes

30 April29 May 2021

Books

Carol Rhodes

Skira

2018

Carol Rhodes

National Galleries of Scotland

2013

News

Carol Rhodes

in ‘Drink in the Beauty’, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow

Carol Rhodes

in ‘Dislocations’, Hunterian Museum, Glasgow

Carol Rhodes

in ‘On Leaving’, Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London

Carol Rhodes: See The World

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

Alison Jacques Gallery Now Represents Carol Rhodes

The late Scottish artist’s inaugural show will open in 2021

Carol Rhodes: Paintings

Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge