Dover Beach

‘The sea is calm tonight, the tide is full, the moon lies fair,’ so starts the famous poem, ‘Dover Beach,’ the final verse of the 1851 Matthew Arnold classic reflecting, ‘So various, so beautiful, so new.’

Of course, 150 years on from the poem’s publication, it’s sheer coincidence, but those sentiments run through the work of the fast emerging East Lothian artist, Rebecca Dover.

Mike Wilson met the woman whose striking seascapes and startling skylines are, for some, taking the local art scene by storm.

Considering East Lothian artist Rebecca Dover has been painting professionally for less than a decade, and that she has two children under five to care for, she has taken giant strides and is now ready to take the next step in her fledgling career.

Having excelled in art at school and studied interior design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dover began her career in film and TV set design before meandering into retail management, but her move to East Lothian almost two-years-ago cemented her long-term commitment to her first love of art.

“East Lothian is such a remarkable place for artists, not just in terms of subjects such as the Bass Rock, Berwick Law and the Firth of Forth, not to mention the many magnificent castles, stately homes and harbours, but also, less tangibly, through a passion for art that runs through the country, a thriving creative community and it’s an incredibly friendly place in which to live and work,” says Dover, who was educated at Perth Academy.

“The lie-of-the-land may not be dramatic in the same way as the west highlands, but, for someone like me, painting from the eye, the rolling landscapes and gentle seascapes make a perfect foil for the dramatic skies East Lothian offers, from black, angry stormy skies to the vibrant colours of sunsets over the Firth of Forth, presenting amazing opportunities for me to fully express myself.”

The Dover gene pool is redolent with creativity; he mother trained in art, her father was an architect, her two brothers, Nicholas and Matthew are professional musicians, she too was a promising flautist, reaching Grade 5 before concentrating on visual as opposed to performance arts.

Working in acrylic on canvas, using brush, palette-knife and sponge, Dover (42) describes her style as, “Bold abstract, a fusion of fact and fiction, and not just bold in colours, but in textures too,” adding, “I will, not always though, insert a local landmark in a piece, as a positioning device, but it would not normally dominate the picture.”

Several of her most striking paintings, such as Pink Cockenzie, Cockenzie Sunset and Cockenzie and Arthur’s Seat pick out the recently departed twin towers of the power station, the demise of which she deeply regrets. “They were truly iconic, the contrast of an industrial structure juxtaposition a magnificent natural foreground and background, and I was sad to see them go.”

Dover’s work is, in anyone’s language, audacious, but not sassy or contrived, simply an honest, authentic and highly-personalized and creative perspective, in her own style, of the scenes she scours for relentlessly, visiting them frequently, imbuing the ambience, taking the photographs and storing the pictures in her mind from which she works.

“I would say I’ve been working semi-professionally since moving to East Lothian from the Newhaven area of Edinburgh, also close to the sea, but I’m on the cusp of branching out, hopefully as the children get older and go to school, becoming more productive, hopefully showing my work in some of the more established galleries, both here in East Lothian and further afield.

“Making art accessible, not only in terms of collecting but also in a participatory sense is important to Rebecca Dover, who says, “The opportunities I had are less available now, schools and art clubs have suffered from government cuts, but I would still say to any young, aspiring artist, ‘Follow your instincts, chase your dreams and be brave.’”

She has already got her two young daughters, “going wild,” with paint and Rebecca Dover volunteers with the award-winning, ‘Lead a Bright Future,’ project helping youngsters fulfill their potential and running arts workshops in Haddington.

As to her own career, Dover, who lives in the area with her photographer husband Robert C Brady and their two daughters, she says, “I’m ready to keep challenging myself, it’s not easy but I’ve developed the confidence now to put myself and my work out there, and above all else I simply love what I do, so what’s not to like about that?”. TC

Rebecca Dover’s work can be viewed at the Bass Rock Gallery in Dunbar, the 3 Harbours Arts Festival in June 2018 and online at
Published: November 2017