Anne overcomes heartbreak to get back to art - and makes London exhibition

Anne presented the Wisniewska family, who own the corner shop, with a framed copy of her painting alongside her teacher Ruth Slater.
Anne presented the Wisniewska family, who own the corner shop, with a framed copy of her painting alongside her teacher Ruth Slater.

More than 40 years after being forbidden to study art, a Rothesay woman could be about to see one of her paintings exhibited in London.

Anne McAuley-Edmond (61) has had a watercolour – depicting the corner shop on Rothesay’s Guildford Square – shortlisted for the Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition 2017, which will select works to appear at the Mall Galleries in September.

It has been a difficult journey, including overcoming illness and four decades believing she was no good at art.

Anne loved drawing from an early age and was even offered a place at Glasgow School of Art but her father said no, leaving her devastated.

She told the Buteman: “In my generation it was quite common for the father to have total control over his family. In choice of school subjects, social life and careers, what he said went while under his roof.”

Anne went on to work for BT, various supermarkets and Strathclyde Police in administrative and customer service roles.

She said: “I was heartbroken by not being able to follow my dream of being an artist, and I would tell myself ‘Anne, one day you will get back to your art.’

“But I was just completely unable to put pencil to paper because of the heartbreak and the mental block of being convinced I wasn’t good enough.”

After becoming ill with swine flu in 2010, Anne never fully recovered her strength and retired to the Isle of Bute in 2014, having fallen in love with the island on a bus tour.

But she still couldn’t overcome her mental block and take up art again.

It took being bedridden for weeks with a strain of a virus related to Ebola to make her realise how much time she had wasted.

She said: “As I lay in bed knowing I had survived this terrible illness, I realised I had a second chance at life, that it was not too late to let go of this lifelong sadness and get back to enjoying my art in the precious days ahead.”

She joined Ruth Slater’s School of Art on a friend’s recommendation, and painted her winning watercolour in September last year.

Anne now believes there is always time for a second chance.

She said: “All I had wished for in life was to look at a view with water and be able to draw in peace – now I am doing both.

“To anyone who has experienced similar circumstances, whether long or short, I would say just let it go.

“Life is far too precious – I can vouch for that.”