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Beautiful exhibition by art teacher receives rave reviews by Herald and Scotsman

Penny Reid has been inspiring our Upper School art pupils since 1998 at Edinburgh Steiner School. The pupils under her wing, stretching more than two decades, have been awarded the highest marks for their portfolios, and many have gone on to Art School after leaving the school gates and become artists and designers. However, getting to see her own art is a rare opportunity for her pupils.  Scotland’s national newspapers, the Scotsman and Herald sent their reviews to print.


A unique aspect of the Steiner curriculum is the integration of the arts into all academic disciplines throughout the education to encourage the pupils’ emotional engagement with their learning, develop their imagination and freedom of thinking. Aesthetic appreciation is cultivated, through watercolour painting, drawing, sculpture, metalwork, woodwork and handwork  – all staples in the Steiner broad curriculum from Kindergarten to Class 12.


Penny guides the pupils work in a wide variety of techniques and materials, including print making, photography, still life, expressing important issues from non-binary gender identities to insomnia through varying formats.


The pupils’ art exhibition will take place in the School hall later in June. However, they are not the only ones this year with an installation of works. In a solo show, 49 pieces painted over the last three years now hang in an Edinburgh gallery. Like all of her GCSE and Advanced Higher pupils, some of this current body of work was created in isolation at home during the Covid pandemic.


The notion of limitation, freedom and the unexpected runs through Pen Reid’s extraordinary show at Union Gallery. While the domestic realm is her central subject, it becomes a broad realm of exploration in the light of her sprightly imaginationAt first glance, her paintings are beautiful…with a mythical, fairy tale quality. But fairy tales are often darker than they seem, and so are these paintings. Often set at dusk, at night, or in the bewitching light of a snowfall, they are quietly unsettling, and surprisingly serious in the questions they pose.”

Scotsman’s review (Thursday, 22nd April, 2021). Printed in Scotsman Magazine, Saturday 24th.



Oil painting ‘Domesticated’ depicts a couple of wild foxes in an intimate embrace on the dining table. ‘The membrane between domestic and wild in [pen reid’s] work is often highly permeable’. (Scotsman).


“Reid’s ability to play a blinder by blending dissonant painterly beauty with an unsettling narrative has paid off…if this last year has taught us anything is that our idea of home is not straightforward. It can be secure and nurturing but at the same time a place of restriction, interdependence and ever present danger. Pen Reid’s paintings offer up chapter and verse on this contradiction with a rich visual feast.”

The Herald Magazine Review


Pen gained her Masters in Painting and Printmaking at the Art Institute of Chicago on an International Peace Scholarship. On graduating she was awarded the Institute’s Ryerson Travelling Scholarship and the Austin Museum’s Juror’s Award. She later completed the Steiner Waldorf Teacher Training Course at Edinburgh Steiner School.


Pen has exhibited abroad in cities across the USA and, in the UK at London’s Panter & Hall and Thompsons, and many of Edinburgh’s galleries, including the Royal Scottish Academy, The UNIONgallery, The Open Eye Gallery, Inverleith House and the Talbot Rice Gallery.


Returning to the UNIONgallery, her solo show was postponed due to Covid, but is now available to visit from today (26th April, 2021). Pen Reid’s exhibition has been extended until Saturday, 8th May. Alternatively, you can view them on the virtual white walls of UNIONgallery


Getting a glimpse of her work will be unfamiliar to the pupils. Pen has always been private about her work as she wants her pupils to experience her “as a teacher first and foremost.”  Teaching art at our school has always inspired Penny as an artist.

It is a privilege to work with the creativity of our young people. I am continually inspired by the energetic and courageous approach they have with their art making.”

Penny Reid





Perhaps of interest:

Outstanding Exam Results in Sciences and Art

Exhibition of Class 11’s re-imagined art in lock down