Kirkcudbright (pronounced Cur-Coo-Brie I think) was a most unlikely spot for such an artistic surprise on our travels around Scotland. We discovered it was called the “Artists Town“ so decided to tarry a-while and investigate. It became a haven for many great Scottish artists from about 1890 right through to the 1980s. Like Newlyn, St Ives and Pont Aven it is supposedly the light that attracted them, unlike the day we went!
John Faed, who was actually born a few Miles away in Gatehouse of Fleet supposedly put Kirkcudbright on the map. One of four talented siblings he set up the Kirkcudbright School. It attracted many greats from the Glasgow Schools such as Edward Atkinson Hornel (1864-1933). Hornel also bought Broughton House in the town in 1901 to house his, and other collections. Unfortunately we could not see into Broughton House on our visit.
The Scottish Colourists are represented by one of my favourite painters, SJ Peploe. On display is his gorgeous oil entitled, Kirkcudbright, from around 1916.
Kirkcudbright Galleries have set the exhibition up on the ground floor of the old Library and I must say what a superb job they have done, even with the current necessary constraints. The exhibition takes you through from John Faed and into the twentieth century, including Charles Oppenheimer’s great landscapes, so popular with the Railway Companies, selling trips to South West Scotland.
Ewan McClure, the figurative artist, known for his 2013 appearance in the final of Sky Arts Portrait of the Year as well as numerous BP Portrait entries, has a solo show on the upper floor. This is again very well curated and after the Kirkcudbright show makes a great day out, finishing maybe for lunch in the Bay hotel opposite.
It is so great to be looking at ‘art in the flesh’ again and these two exhibitions in this lovely SW Scotland town have been a really good return. Having been reminded of just how good Scottish Art is we are looking forward to seeing more and hopefully the Colourists again I n Perth – watch this space!