The Brave Drawn World of Donald Urquhart

The Brave Drawn World of Donald Urquhart

Donald Urquhart, is recognised as one of the leading Scottish artists of his generation whose profound and thought-provoking work has been shown both nationally and internationally.



Study of a Thistle, ink on Bristol board, 1977

Originally from rural Perthshire, Urquhart studied Drawing & Painting at Edinburgh College of Art where he now lectures. His strong interest in the perceptions of one’s environment has resulted in an artistic practice which involves working with architectural space and permanent outdoor installations in addition to his principal media of drawing, painting, and installation. He was one of the creative team responsible for An Turas on Tiree, the built artwork that has received international recognition. He was also responsible for all aspects of the design of The Sanctuary, the award-winning spiritual space at the new Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

Invisible Ideas

The exhibition, Invisible Ideas, presents a body of drawings completed in 2007, prefaced by a very early work, entitled ‘Study of a Thistle’ from 1977, which displays the analytical observation that remains key to Donald Uquhart’s work today.

Two Mists, Kyoto, Graphite on paper, 2007

Through these drawings, Uquhart explores issues around the representation of landscape in Scotland today as well as utilising material from time he has spent in Japan, Norway, China and Iceland.

Perthshire Drawing, Graphite and gouache on paper, 2007

…snow lies in patterned ridges atop a furrowed field in ‘Perthshire Drawing’, yet each clod of earth a unique synthesis of form and light and human action.

North Uist Drawing, Graphite and gouache on paper, 2007

Donald Urquahart places us in his ‘North Uist Drawing’, on the shoreline of the Hebridean island, with the pitted, dappled markings of the shadows of worm casts etching patterns akin to the speckle of an egg or the crystalline structure of granite; the contemplative, balanced plane of colour, sits alongside, attempting only to define a quality of colour and light, vibrant and cool, luminous and formless, an idea of shadow juxtaposed with the diffuse nature of blue Atlantic light.

Snow-Field Drawing (siglufjordur) Graphite and gouache on paper, 2007

In recent years, Urquhart has completed a large number of public artworks in which his ideas have been articulated through an architectural language.

Two Planes, Kyoto, Graphite on paper, 2007

Another aspect of Urquahart’s practice is the site-specific drawings made directly in the landscape itself, in which he has responded to a variety of contexts.

Donald Urquhart’s art shows the complexity and simplicity of nature’s deep structure’s deep structure and poetic form, the mythos, and logos of idea, form, and symbol.

Donald Urquhart, Programme Director, Edinburgh School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture

Donald Urquahart is a highly respected landscape artist, exhibiting internationally, who has completed numerous significant public art projects. He was one of the collaborative team responsible for the built artwork, An Turas, on Tiree, which was short-listed for the RIBA Stirling Prize and was awarded the RIAS Best Building in Scotland Award as well as the Royal Scottish Academy’s Gold Medal for architecture. He has collaborated with leading architects, including Reiach & Hall, Sutherland Hussey, Cannon & Elder and Page & Park. Urquhart designed all aspects of a major architectural space to serve as a Sanctuary for the New Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, which won the best Building for Public Use at the Scottish Design Awards.

Invisible Ideas, Donald Urquahart: Drawings 1977-2007, edited by Donald Urquahart, Maeve Toal /// Foreword by Maeve Toal ///  Essay by Lorna J. Waite /// Published by The City of Edinburgh Museums and Galleries, City of Edinburgh Council 2007



Archilibs has a free fortnight reader. It comes out every other Sunday reviewing work through a featured word . . . plus a handful of top articles and visuals. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

Submit your work

Archilibs has a gallery dedicated to you. Submit drawings, diagrams, sketches and all visual constructs. Images are encouraged to be unique, different, and experimental. The work can be hand drawn, collage, process work, diagrammatic, etc.
Submit directly Tumblr. Gallery or e-mail