Rona is an artist based in Albion Studios in Leith who works in a range of materials including charcoal, paint and wood. She has a passion for wild, untamed nature and is especially fond on corvids. Her work is often described as having a dark side.
Rona’s artwork has been shipped all over the world and one of my most imposing and dramatic paintings now hangs in the Scottish Parliament.
Growing up in North East Scotland introduced Rona to flora, fauna and geology while hill climbing in the Cairngorms. The extreme weather, mountains and wilderness have had a lasting impact on her work.
Rona’s nature loving family were forever collecting and examining specimens such as feathers, bones, shells or discarded snake skin and staying up late round a campfire to look at the stars and listen to the calls of nocturnal animals. Rona’s studio is like a Curiosity Cabinet full of of feathers, antlers, lichen, pieces of bark and interesting found objects.
Rona still has most of her sketchbooks from throughout her life, the visual diaries documenting the good times and the bad. The theme of crows, symbols and smudgy charcoal drawing goes all the way back to her teenage years.
Using drawing as a starting point, Rona combines multiple processes to create a style that attempts to capture the personality and individual nuances of the subject. Based on observation, memory and imagination her style is intricately detailed while retaining a playful exploration of materials.
To bring her artwork ‘to life’ she uses semi-chaotic processes such as flooding the surface with liquids, blasting powder over them or wearing away parts of the drawing with air or corrosive materials. Layers are built up, excavated, destroyed and restructured.
After graduating from Goldsmiths College with a BA Hons in Fine Art and gaining a Masters Degree in Computers in Design at Middlesex University Rona worked in Soho as a Special Effects Artist on Hollywood feature films. The techniques she used in digital film post production have proved invaluable over the years.
After this, while still living ‘down south’, Rona freelanced as a commercial artist and mainly worked with emerging technologies to produce interactive installations and animations. Her work appeared in international museums, on digital billboards around the world and as stage projections in venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, The Southbank Centre and on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury.
Rona also worked with bands including The Who, Julian Cope and Ginger Wildheart and had work in window displays and interiors of leading high street retailers including Selfridges and DicksonCyberExpress in Hong Kong.
During this period she also lectured in several universities including Glasgow School of Art and the London College of Music & Media.
After moving to Glasgow at the end of 2009, Rona began drawing and painting in a more serious way but lacked any real direction and missed having like-minded people to share work and ideas with.
This all changed in 2012 when she took part in an online daily drawing challenge called ‘28 Drawings Later’ set up by Glasgow artist, Victoria Evans. She soon rediscovered her passion for drawing corvids, animals and skeletons and had a ready made community of artists to share and discuss work with. The rest is history!
Two years after moving to Glasgow Rona relocated to Leith, created some prints and cards from her artwork and trialled selling these on market stalls. She had been wanting to swap providing creative services to commercial clients to creating her own range of products and finally took the leap.
To support her gallery work she produces a separate diffusion line of products including homeware, stationary, cards and prints which she sells through stockists and galleries.