As former ECA lecturers, students and avid travellers, Elizabeth and John requested that a portion of the bequest be given to ECA painting students to fund international and postgraduate study.
New bursary and travel awards at ECA
The RSA Blackadder Houston Bequest Travel Awards will offer two annual awards of £3,000 for final year painting students at ECA to undertake international study.
The RSA Blackadder Houston Bequest Bursary will be an annual award to support postgraduate education for a Scottish ECA painting graduate to continue their studies at ECA or elsewhere.
Principal of Edinburgh College of Art, Professor Juan Cruz, said: “The RSA Blackadder Houston Bequest provides a potentially transformative range of opportunities to support the visual arts in Scotland, including a substantial set of important awards.
“We are grateful and delighted that ECA students and prospective students will benefit so much from these extraordinarily generous awards, and we are especially proud that the legacy of Elizabeth Blackadder and John Houston, both ECA alumni and teachers, will be embodied in new generations of artists from ECA.
“We would like to thank the Royal Scottish Academy and the Trustees of the Blackadder Houston Trust for their stewardship of the bequest and their recognition and support of ECA and its past, present and future students.”
Dame Elizabeth Blackadder RSA and John Houston RSA OBE both studied at Edinburgh College of Art. Elizabeth was a lecturer at ECA from 1962 until her retirement in 1986. John joined ECA as a lecturer in 1955, and subsequently became Deputy Head of the School of Painting and Drawing, holding the position until his retirement in 1989.
Support for artists in Scotland
As well as the support for students and graduates, the bequest will also fund a significant new publishing initiative focusing on the history of twentieth-century Scottish art and contemporary Scottish art; the RSA's annual flagship exhibition the RSA New Contemporaries; and the RSA Permanent Collections, housing the Blackadder Houston Study Collection.
2023 Exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy
In August 2023 the RSA will celebrate the lives and careers of Elizabeth Blackadder and John Houston in a major exhibition focusing on their travels, research and studio practices.
The exhibition will be an insight into the work and lives of these two hugely influential Scottish artists. The exhibition will trace the shared research interests and symbiotic practices of avid travellers Blackadder and Houston. It will include works from across the breadth of both artists’ career, with early drawings and paintings on view alongside masterworks from their mature periods.
Director of the Royal Scottish Academy, Colin Greenslade said: "Elizabeth and her husband John Houston had a life immersed in art. From student-life in the 1950s through to their long careers as lecturers at Edinburgh College of Art and as practicing artists, their connections spanned generations. They formed a supportive nucleus at the heart of a wide circle of friends, students, colleagues, lecturers and fellow Academicians. It is wonderful that this support and encouragement will continue towards the artist community through this magnificent gift.”
The Trustees of the Blackadder Houston Trust said: "We are pleased to make available a permanent collection of Elizabeth's and John's work to help researchers, scholars, curators and artists. We are delighted that the RSA have so comprehensively embraced Elizabeth's and John's wishes, to include exciting plans for scholarships and bursaries into the long-term future."
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