Eric Ritchie graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in the mid 1950s, a prize-winning student who went on to travel and exhibit in Edinburgh and London. He famously collaborated with Leonard Rosoman, the noted war artist and illustrator, on the sell-out Diaghilev exhibition. This landmark exhibition of the life and work of ballet legend Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes was first shown at the Edinburgh Festival and later transferred to London where it drew massive crowds and earned great critical acclaim and led to Eric rubbing shoulders with and gaining a following from many distinguished film and theatrical luminaries.
“During his course, he has won every Scholarship in turn, finishing, in 1956, with an Andrew Grant Major Travelling Scholarship. He studied in France and Italy and the exhibition of his work done on this scholarship was quite outstanding. I regard Eric Ritchie as a very promising painter . . .“ W.G. Gillies, Head, School of Drawing and Painting, Edinburgh College of Art, 1960
Much has been written of this effervescent octogenarian and his influences – Miro, Klee, Ernst, Picasso and indeed Rosoman. His stunning portraiture, murals and representative work. His love of Orkney and of the fishing industry. The wry humour in his caricature work.
“In the end, however, it is the actual arrangement of forms that means most, the balancing of curving, touching, pointing elements, the way he creates a ballet with the bits of pieces of his ideas. “ Edward Gage, The Scotsman, 1981
“He is one of those rare people in the world of art that I can regard as a true professional with the kind of personal integrity which would never allow him to be satisfied with his work, no matter how much he had achieved.” Richard Demarco, Gallery Director, 1969
The Ritchies maintain a strong sense of community and now live in Coldingham near St Abbs where Reena has her roots. Some of Eric’s most appealing work stems from time spent on his brothers-in-law’s fishing boats. He sees his place in the community as the man who works with paint – that has even included painting the fishing boats’ registration numbers onto their bows.
“I can’t not draw or paint. It is necessary for my well-being and I can unload on small pieces of paper, large areas of wall or anything in between, but I must do it.” Eric Ritchie, February, 2017