IT IS ALMOST 50 years since Carol Dewart, Jennifer Irvine, Hazel Nagl and Jacqueline Orr were students of drawing and painting at Glasgow School of Art.

The four women, who have been friends for years, have known each other since the 70s and have become successful artists in their own right – but they have never exhibited together until now.

Colour Palettes, West to East reflects the fact that all the artists are based in the west of Scotland but are exhibiting their work on the other side of the country. It runs until October 25 at Fidra Fine Art in Gullane.

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Jennifer says: “Our styles are very different but there is definitely a thread that runs through our work, connecting our images in our colour palettes.

“All four of us had the privilege of working in the beautiful Mackintosh building and years later, all felt the devastation of the fire and loss of the building keenly and personally.”

The famous building, known as ‘The Mack’ after its designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, was sadly destroyed by fire in 2018.

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The 1970s and 80s were strong decades for the famous institution, and for Glasgow’s art scene as a whole.

The city’s cultural economy was on the up, with eminent organisations like Glasgow Print Studio, The Third Eye Centre (now the CCA), Transmission, Street Level Photoworks and The Glasgow Sculpture Studios all taking root.

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The emergence of the ‘new Glasgow Boys’, a group of GSA graduates including Peter Howson and Adrian Wiszniewski, marked the beginning of a new interest in the city and its artists, and its reputation as an artistic and cultural powerhouse was cemented with its successful bid to be European Capital of Culture in 1990.

Carol has never forgotten the sense of awe she felt arriving at ‘the Mack’.

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“As a young 18 year old, I was in awe of the wonderful building and of the tutors who seemed to epitomise my image of an artist,” she recalls.

“Perhaps unique to the Mackintosh was the sense that anyone who studied in that fabulous building was in some way irrevocably connected to former, present and future students.

“Year groups were of little importance. The bond is being able to say, ‘I was there.’ With the devastating loss of the Mack this connection is perhaps stronger than ever.”

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Carol, who studied at GSA in the 1970s under well-known Scottish artists such as David Donaldson, James Robertson and Geoff Squire, adds: “I feel very honoured to not only have studied at GSA but very fortunate to have been there at a time when there was a strong painting tradition.”

Jacqueline, who was a GSA student from 1979 to 1983, agrees: “Looking back, the privilege of studying in an iconic building as the Mackintosh with such inspiring tutors was priceless.”

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Hazel Ngal, who graduated in 1973, was resident tutor at GSA’s ‘satellite’ operation at Culzean Country Park in Ayrshire, which ran from 1966 until 1989.

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“Architects and planners went there to build models, have in depth tutorials and historical tours of Ayrshire; ceramic students would extract local clay and build and fire kilns; the Design School gathered source materials to finish their projects back in Renfrew Street; and Drawing and Painting students got the chance to work amidst the diversity of the estate, from shoreline and park to gardens and the wilder parts,” says Hazel.

“Everybody drew. There was also an opportunity to exchange ideas with other art schools and institutions who visited, such as Goldsmiths in Manchester and Chicago.

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Hazel adds: “I was at Culzean for twenty years and I made many friends, not least Jennifer, Jacqui and Carol. There have been many different influences on our lives and we have different outlooks, but the cement holding us together is the Mack - with a little help from Culzean.”