Heather Nevay was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 13th January 1965. She studied at Glasgow
School of Art and graduated with BA Hons., Art and Design (Printed Textiles) in 1988.
Heather exhibits regularly at the Compass
Gallery and Cyril Gerber Fine Art, Glasgow, and the Portal Gallery, London. Heather has also exhibited many times in important mixed
shows at The Royal Scottish Academy, The Society
of Scottish Artists, The Royal Glasgow Institute, and at the London and
Glasgow Art Fairs.
Heather uses symbolism to express ideas of heroism, weakness, fear and the shifting balance of human relationships. Her paintings are mostly figurative with colour being an important element of her work.
- 2009 "The Savage Garden", The Portal Gallery, London
- 2007 "Showtime", The Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh
- 2005 "The Playroom", The Portal Gallery, London
- 2003 The Portal Gallery, London
- 2001 The Portal Gallery, London
- 1999 The Glasgow Vennel Gallery, Irvine
- 1999 Cyril Gerber Fine Art, Glasgow
- 1995 Cyril Gerber Fine Art, Glasgow
- 1991 "Nice House", Princes Square, Glasgow
- 1990 "One", Princes Square, Glasgow
Selected Group Exhibitions
- 2010 "Four Scottish Artists":Whyn Lewis, James McNaught, Heather Nevay, Peter Thomson showing at Portal Painters, Connaught Street, London
- 2010 "Spectators" - Group Exhibition with Helen Flockhart and Peter Thomson, Open Eye Gallery,Edinburgh
- 2010 Beinart Collective Group Exhibition, Copro Gallery, Santa Monica, California
- 2008 Flockhart, Nevay, Thomson: Group Exhibition, Mansfield Park Gallery, Glasgow
- 2004 Tanglewood Festival, Boston, USA (with The Portal Gallery)
- 2002 Competition Prize Winner, The Discerning Eye, Mall Galleries, London
- 2001 Cyril Gerber Award, Paisley Art Institute 113th Annual Exhibition, Paisley Museum
- 2000 Contemporary Fine Art Gallery Eton Award, Paisley Art Institute 112th Annual Exhibition, Paisley Museum
- 2000 Noble Grossart Painting Prize Finalist, RSA, Edinburgh & Glasgow School of Art
- 1999 Morrison Portrait Award Exhibtion, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
- 1993 Morrison Portrait Award Exhibtion, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
The writer and film maker James Burge wrote the piece which follows to accompany the exhibition at the Portal Gallery in 2005:
"Heather Nevay’s paintings shock at fist sight. She employs a repertoire of images that appear to have
found their way to us from Hieronymus Bosch via classic cinematic horror: dogs with human heads, sinister little girls
playing with lifelike dolls, a dark woodland teeming with tiny animals in strange clothing.
They frequently depict children, surprised in the middle of some incomprehensible ritual, staring out at us with
hostility and contempt.
But to see in these pictures a simple-minded desire to shock would be a great mistake. Heather Nevay’s work
is distinguished not by sensation-seeking antics but by the richness and universality of its insights.
The artist herself belies any suggestion of dark horror: she is quick-witted and humorous
(‘Oh yes’, she says cheerily, ‘people who look at my paintings for the first time often think I need psychiatric help’)
and displays an intense interest in the world around her. She graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1988 and has
painstakingly built up her own style, winning a series of prestigious awards on the way, until she has become one
of Portal’s most sought-after artists. Those who collect her paintings find that it is the psychological sophistication
of her work that endows it with its lasting appeal.
Although her imagery comes from a complex personal mythology (she has become adept at giving good-naturedly
enigmatic answers to questions like ‘What does the minuscule sheep with the clown’s hat actually mean?’)
she uses it to examine aspects of experience which are common to all of us. The children in her paintings have been
surprised in play, at the very moment when they start to learn about the emotions which shape all our lives.
As she says, ‘I'm interested in the games in which children take part which fall into traditional
roles and activities. I look at the duplicity of the play which is often the cause of misinterpretation of adult
onlookers. I am not storytelling but I want to offer a glimpse of a scene which will continue after our gaze has
moved on. I don't want to paint horrific scenes, but sometimes I have to create an atmosphere of
The dolls the children play with become lovers, rivals, friends or children – whatever is required
for the particular game. It is the emotional investment which the child makes in the toy or doll which fascinates
her. Sometimes, she explains, she shows girls practicing for the different roles of womanhood – wife/lover, mother,
sister – or experimenting with flirtation, exploring the sexual aspect of being female in the safe environment of a
playroom. ‘I want to look at the ritualistic aspects of play which still seem to reinforce gender stereotypes with
no ground in modern life. The world of the fairytale is long past, but it seems to be a place children still like
The strange, unsentimental images of Heather Nevay remind us that childhood is not only a frightening
experience but also that it is the foundation of adulthood. The shock that her paintings produce is not the shock of
the bizarre but the surprised recognition of something half-remembered within ourselves."