Joan Eardley was an extraordinary painter who, quite simply, died before she had finished. As an artist she remains unsung. Best known in Scotland where she was not born; rarely heard of in England where she was.

Heroica in association with Stellar Quines and National Galleries Scotland – are creating a new journey for Joan Eardley: one which brings her back to new life, and follows her as she makes her way through a life of joys and frustrations, friendships and solitary stretches, disillusionments and disappointments – as well as passions and triumphs.

Research and development began for this project in 2014. The script was workshopped at the National Portrait Gallery in September 2015, with an audience invited to share in a Q&A with the writer, director and actor after extracts were performed. Further development in May 2016 led to two further sharings of work in progress and the National Galleries Edinburgh.

Development has continued and the play is touring the UK in May and June 2017 including 5 – 7 May at the National Galleries Edinburgh.


Heroica Theatre Company (formerly Square Peg Productions, founded 2005) champions the achievements of maverick women.

The experience of a Heroica production is unique. Each play event illuminates the life of a secret heroine, celebrating a woman of great achievement, often a maverick and usually unsung. It also reimagines the relationships between history and the present day, and between a story and the place in which an audience watches it unfold.

For Heroica Theatre Company – based in the Pennines and operating all over the UK – location and environment provide much more than a backdrop to the action. Every Heroica event offers audiences a completely fresh engagement with a place, be it previously known to them or not. And the promenade style of performance ensures that, as audiences discover the previously hidden lives of history’s women, they simultaneously find the hidden corners of extraordinary buildings or outdoor spaces.

You can support this project through donating.

Image: Joan Eardley at work. Photograph by Audrey Walker; courtesy of The Scottish Gallery