Karólína Lárusdóttir: 1944 – 2019

Karólína Lárusdóttir ,  Man with Angel in Pocket,  20 x 23cm, etching

Karólína Lárusdóttir, Man with Angel in Pocket, 20 x 23cm, etching

Rare would it be that I would consider pre-publishing any content from the upcoming first issue of Art North magazine, but this qualifies as an exception. In our 'In Brief' section on the opening pages of the magazine, we have run a short column on the pending exhibition of work by the Icelandic artist Karólína Lárusdóttir, to be exhibited in Inverness, 1 - 30 March, 2019. 

I have just opened an email from Denise Collins of The Castle Gallery, telling me that Karólína Lárusdóttir sadly died, yesterday. The upcoming exhibition had been organised, in part, to celebrate her 75th birthday.

Denise writes: "Karólína passed away yesterday, so she will never have the pleasure of seeing what we have organised for her show or the book that we have published to accompany it. Please could you acknowledge this sad event in your newsletter, although I know it is too late for the printed magazine."

Well, not only has the magazine gone to press but, also, our Newsletter was sent out on the day of Karólína's passing, so this sad news was not included. I'm therefore posting the news here, with a copy of the brief column we included in Art North

The text we have published seems hugely inadequate now, but I copy it below as it appears in the forthcoming issue of the magazine. We will of course acknowledge the passing of Karólína Lárusdóttir in our summer issue, although that seems such a long way off at present.


Karólína Lárusdóttir’s was born in Reykjavík in 1944, and studied at Sir John Cass College, London (1964-65), Ruskin School of Art, Oxford (1965-67) and Barking College of Art (1977-80). Her paintings and handmade prints often refer back to her unusual upbringing in Iceland, however; her grandfather worked in a travelling circus before returning to Reykjavík in the 1930’s to establish a grand hotel. Memories of this glamorous world, and family picnics to the spectacular Icelandic countryside form the basis of much her imagery. She is a keen social commentator and her dry wit often shines through the work. The Castle Gallery in Inverness is celebrating the artist’s 75th birthday with a exhibition of some of her early paintings and rare prints. More recent limited edition etchings are on show also. To mark the occasion, a 60 page book will be available, exclusively from the gallery, too. During her highly successful career Lárusdóttir has exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, and her work is held in private and public collections, including the Ashmolean Museum, the British Museum, as well as in Icelandic national collections. The current exhibition has been made possible due to a long-standing friendship between the artist and the Castle Gallery’s owner, ensuring a diverse and extensive display of paintings and handmade prints. Titled after one of the artist’s etchings, ‘The Good Gathering’, the exhibition continues until 30 March. ■ 

Note: The above text was prepared and sent to press shortly before the artists’s death, for inclusion in our spring issue (due 1 March, 2019).

Ian McKay

Born 1962, Ian McKay is a writer, art critic, and cultural historian, with a keen interest in promoting the visual arts and crafts of the Northern Highlands. For over 25 years, he worked as a senior lecturer in art history and cultural studies, and has been writing on the arts, crafts and culture industries since the mid-1980s, His work has appeared in over thirty countries worldwide, being published by Cassell Illustrated, Wiley, Octopus, Free Association Books, Flowers, and State Media (among others). In addition he has written on environmental issues and social history, and is a leading authority on the work of the British modern artist Bernard Cohen. In 2010, Ian founded Hatchet Green Press, and offers a wide range of bespoke services to artists and writers via our Services page. He also maintains a visual art, craft, and culture Blog titled North-Northwest.