This image demonstrates Elizabeth Blackadder's signature attention to detail. The title refers to an orchid in the Brassia family, known as 'spider orchids', due to their long, delicate tepals, which are detailed in this image. The piece is signed and the artist has written the title, 'ORCHIDACEAE brassia giroudeana' in the bottom-left corner.
Elizabeth Blackadder's work is based largely on passive representations of still life, with a signature style derived from Japanese artwork that utilises blank space to emphasise the fragile beauty of nature. The delicacy of the flower in this piece is emphasised by the application of a fluid, translucent paint that lends the image an ethereal quality. This effect is emphasised by the lack of outlines and the lack of a strong colour contrast. Instead Elizabeth uses light colours that are barely visible against the blank background. It is a subtle piece that rewards careful examination to find all its little details, such as the way the tepals thin at the end, the way the leaves have been veined and the slight imperfections on the paper such as the blotches of paint.
Born in Falkirk in 1931, she is today one of Britain's most renowned artists and was the first woman to be elected as a member of the Royal Scottish Academy as well as the Royal Academy. She paints in oil and watercolours and has worked with printmakers on a variety of printing techniques. Her sensitivity to her surroundings has inspired many still lives, as well as many portraits of her cats, where she captures the paraphernalia around her studio and her domestic interior in compositions tending towards the abstract. The objects featured in her paintings are often those she collected during her many travels in Europe and in the East. The space between objects and their resonance with each other hold a great fascination for her.
Philip Long, 'Elizabeth Blackadder', National Galleries of Scotland, 2011