PHOTOGRAPHS of Glasgow children in tenement back courts and on city streets feature often in Times Past.

The old black and white images conjure up many memories for readers, who recall by turns happy times and decaying buildings, post-war decay and hope for the future.

It is rare to find the city’s streetscapes and tenement children captured in paintings, but for Joan Eardley, they were a rich source of inspiration.

Joan Eardley

Joan Eardley

The artist, who rented a studio on Cochrane Street in 1949, would have been 100 years old on Tuesday had she survived breast cancer..

Sadly, Joan died in 1963, aged just 42, and with her death Scotland lost one of its most popular and important artists.

She was considered a member of the post-war British avant-garde, who portrayed the realities of mid-twentieth century life, entirely unsentimentally.

Joan was born in Sussex but after the death of her father (he was gassed while fighting in the trenches in the First World War, which left him with shell shock and depression) her mother moved the family to Glasgow.

The Sampson children in one of Joans works.

The Sampson children in one of Joan's works.

Joan studied at Glasgow School of Art, where she was a star pupil.

The area where she first worked, once home to a collection of tenements and Rottenrow Maternity Hospital, is now at the heart of the University of Scotland’s campus.

Back then, it had its fair share of troubles, and slum dwellings, but Joan was undeterred.

The Sampsons pictured during the BBC Scotland documentary.

The Sampsons pictured during the BBC Scotland documentary.

“I like the friendliness of the backstreets,” she once said. “Life is at its most uninhibited here.”

According to the National Galleries of Scotland website, Joan made chalk drawings of the local children, who became regular visitors to her studio.

“Many of these drawings were on scraps of sandpaper or loose sheets joined together by paperclips,” says the website.

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“These drawings provided Eardley with imagery for many of her oil paintings, including Street Kids, 1949-51. She was never without a camera after moving to her nearby second studio at 204 St James Road and many of her photographs also provided subject matter for paintings.”

Joan was passionate about Townhead, and about Catterline, a fishing village in Kincardineshire, where she painted stunning landscapes.

Flood Tide by Joan Eardley.

Flood Tide by Joan Eardley.

One of the most startling stories from Joan’s time in Glasgow concerns the Sampson family, whose story was told in a BBC Scotland documentary called Films of Scotland.

The family posed as models for Joan in the late 1950s – the studio was near their home. The 12 children featured regularly in her work, some of which are now worth thousands of pounds in galleries around the world.

Sometimes, revealed Mary Sampson (married name McDonald at the time of recording), they would take hundreds of pictures and sketches she did home with them.

Rather than keep them, however, said Mary, regretfully, they scrunched them into spirals and used them as firelighters – in other words, throwing art that could have been worth millions of pounds into the living room fire…..