They are oil on a traditional gesso ground in the manner of the early Italian painting, and the shimmering gold reflects the Italian influence on Whiteford’s work at this time, with the gold extending over the heavy wooden frame. The symbols reflect Whiteford’s interest in archaeology and the animistic symbols carved on Pictish stones - on one painting the swirling energy of the spiral and iconic salmon is a microcosm of the extraordinary global migrations of the natural world.
The repeated arches on the other painting suggests an architectural form which recedes in space or perhaps an archaeological rock carving which plays with our sense of scale. The paintings each measuring 2m x 3m have an extraordinary presence and physicality.
These rich glowing paintings by Kate Whiteford were commissioned by the Contemporary Art Society for the Atrium of ICI headquarters on Millbank when it was refurbished in 1988.