The McKendrick soldier portraits: An exciting acquisition for Scotland’s youngest regimental museum

Three paintings by Tom McKendrick, acquired by the Museum of the Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2018 with an NFA grant of £3,000

It’s always a pleasure adding new objects to the collection but the recent acquisition of three portraits by Scottish artist Tom McKendrick, thanks to generous grants from the National Fund for Acquisitions and the Art Fund, was a particularly exciting one for the Museum of The Royal Regiment of Scotland. As Scotland’s youngest regimental museum, only established in 2013, we have a small but constantly expanding collection that reflects the experiences and activities of the Regiment since its formation in 2006.

Warrant Officer 2nd Class Terry Lowe

Warrant Officer 2nd Class Terry Lowe, 2013, by Tom McKendrick © Tom McKendrick

One of the difficulties in collecting objects to a modern and very active regiment is the lack of opportunities to acquire items of real quality. Silver, paintings, medals and many of the other impressive trappings of regimental life are constantly in use and consequently rarely parted with. We were therefore absolutely thrilled when an opportunity arose to acquire three portraits by the wonderfully talented Scottish artist Tom McKendrick.

Colour Sergeant Craig Sharp MC

Colour Sergeant Craig Sharp MC, 2014, by Tom McKendrick © Tom McKendrick

The paintings feature Warrant Officer 2nd Class Terry Lowe, Colour Sergeant Craig Sharp MC and Corporal James Smith respectively and are all from McKendrick’s Soldiers series. In 2012 the artist felt he would like to mark the approaching centenary of the First World War and in order to do that decided to paint one hundred portraits of men and women who have served their country.

Corporal James Smith

Corporal James Smith, 2012, by Tom McKendrick © Tom McKendrick

The three portraits are all striking aesthetically and each soldier featured has an interesting associated story. As a result, the portraits not only have a strong emotional resonance but also touch upon a variety of themes such as pride, identity, injury (both physical and mental), courage, loss and comradeship. The portraits along with other work from Tom’s Soldiers series will be going on display at Clydebank Museum in November of this year and it’s hoped they can be loaned to other Scottish museums and galleries in 2019 and beyond.

Desmond Thomas
Curator
Museum of the Royal Regiment of Scotland

www.theroyalregimentofscotland.org

To hear the soldiers talk about their experiences and give their opinions on their portraits, please click on the links below.

James Smith Video Interview

Terry Lowe Video Interview

Craig Sharp MC Video Interview

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The Dandy, Dundee and Daddy McCartney

The Dandy print shirt and trouser suit, 2016, designed by Stella McCartney, acquired by Leisure and Culture Dundee in 2017 with an NFA grant of £517.

 

It all started with Twitter. It’s where I keep up-to-date with most museum-related news these days. Stella McCartney was releasing a new clothing line after approaching Beano Studios to collaborate for The Dandy’s 80th anniversary in 2017. It featured a trouser suit, t-shirts and a dress showing Korky the Cat, Dinah Mo and twins Cuddles and Dimples. We had to have it in the collection.

2017-125-1=2 Stella McCartney 'The Dandy' suitStella McCartney, The Dandy shirt and trouser suit, 2016. © Dundee City Council (Dundee’s Art Galleries and Museums).

 

The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum has a large costume collection with strengths in female Victorian costume and Dundee couture costumiers, including Miss Laing, active in the 1870s, and Maison Souter, active from the late 1870s to the 1920s.

 

1978-1645-1 jpegBodice and skirt by Miss Laing, 1873-77. © Dundee City Council (Dundee’s Art Galleries and Museums).

1976-659-1 jpegBodice and skirt by Maison Souter, c1894. © Dundee City Council (Dundee’s Art Galleries and Museums).

There was a burst of collecting during the 1970s and ’80s but little was added to the collection from the 1990s to the present. This could be an indication of changes in society and our throwaway culture but it is something that we aim to address. I am keen to develop this area of the collection by focusing on clothing made in Dundee or inspired by Dundee, hence Stella and her Dundee-centric DC Thomson collection.

The collaboration seems to have come about due to Dad, Paul McCartney’s, love of The Dandy, first issued on 4 December 1937. Dundee publisher DC Thomson & Co Ltd pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable for a comic at the time – figures of authority were mocked and slapstick humour was championed. Just before the comic ceased printing and went digital in 2012, Paul McCartney fulfilled a lifelong ambition when he featured in the comic alongside Desperate Dan and Bananaman.

Having successfully secured funding from the National Fund for Acquisitions we purchased the shirt and trouser suit towards the end of 2017. Now fully accessioned, it’s waiting for its first outing. The plan? Over the next year or so we are keen to redisplay some of the cases in The McManus to get more of the costume collection out on view, including the trouser suit. Stella, meanwhile, has continued her collaboration and, in keeping with 80th birthdays, has designed a range of kid’s clothing featuring Beano characters for Beano’s 80th this year.

Now, where did I put that NFA application form …

 

Carly Cooper
Curator (Social History)
Leisure and Culture Dundee

http://www.leisureandculturedundee.com/

 

 

Captain Edward Hawkins Cheney – A Hero of Waterloo

Waterloo Medal and snuff box of Captain Edward Hawkins Cheney, acquired by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum in 2018 with an NFA grant of £10,000.

Captain Cheney was pivotal to the leadership of the 2nd Dragoons during the charge of the Scots Greys at the Battle of Waterloo. On the battlefield, Napoleon I famously referred to the charge of the Scots Greys as ces terribles chevaux gris (those terrible grey horses). The charge of the Union Brigade, including the Scots Greys, decimated the French Infantry and led to the capture of two French Eagles before forward momentum took the Greys as far as the French artillery; by that time, however, most of the Greys’ horses were ‘blown’ and the Regiment suffered serious casualties from counter-attacking French lancers.

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Waterloo medal awarded to Captain and Brevet Major Edward Hawkins Cheney, 2nd Royal North British Horse (Scots Greys)

The charge of the Scots Greys was later immortalised in two Victorian paintings: Richard Ansdell’s Fight for the Standard (1841) and Lady Butler’s Scotland Forever (1881). The film Waterloo (1970) also helped cement the Scots Greys’ place in Scottish popular historical identity.

Edward Hawkins Cheney was born in Derbyshire in 1776 and joined the 2nd Dragoons as a cornet in September 1794. By 1803 Cheney had been promoted to captain and in 1812 was a brevet-major. In 1811 Cheney married Elizabeth Ayre of Gaddesby, Leicestershire.

Box 1

Agate and white metal table snuff box engraved with Captain Cheney’s initials and the Cheney family crest

At the Battle of Waterloo, on 18th June 1815, Cheney commanded the Regiment after the commanding officer was killed and the two majors seriously wounded. Cheney was in executive command for the last three hours of the battle, having four horses killed under him and a fifth wounded.

The importance of Cheney’s role in the battle was recognised almost immediately afterwards when he was given the brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel (although at the time he was still only a captain in the Regiment) and made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) on the personal recommendation of the Duke of Wellington. It is therefore evident that both the Prince Regent and the British military authorities held Cheney in high regard.

Cheney’s medal, as that of the senior surviving officer present throughout the battle, must rank as next in importance to the Waterloo Medal of Sergeant Charles Ewart (who captured the French Eagle and standard), which is now in the collection of the National War Museum. The Eagle and Standard of the 45th French Regiment of the Line are on permanent display in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum in Edinburgh Castle.

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Sculpture by Joseph Gott depicting Captain Cheney astride a wounded horse at the Battle of Waterloo, part of a monument erected to his memory in St Luke’s Parish Church, Gaddesby, Leicestershire

Cheney spent his entire active service career with the 2nd Dragoons until retiring to half-pay in 1818. Following his death in 1848, a large and impressive monument to his memory was erected in the parish church of St Luke in Gaddesby, Leicestershire, where Cheney and his wife lived. It is said to be the only equestrian monument in a British parish church.

 

Edwin Rutherford
Curator
Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum

https://www.scotsdgmuseum.com/

 

 

Willie Rodger Fan Club

60 linocut prints by Willie Rodger RSA RGI (b1930), acquired in 2017 by Lillie Art Gallery with an NFA grant of £2,000.

Pick up Fugitive Colours, the latest collection by Liz Lochhead, and you will find Willie Rodger celebrated in two of her poems.  And why not?  Willie Rodger is an artist who should be celebrated in poetry for his Zen-like scrutiny of his fellow human beings: humorous, delightful, insightful; he observes, never judges.

Man nearly falling in love

Man Nearly Falling in Love by Willie Rodger (all images reproduced by kind permission of the artist)

Wee Bite

Wee Bite by Willie Rodger

In 2005 the Auld Kirk Museum, in his home town of Kirkintilloch, had the privilege of mounting a retrospective exhibition to mark his 75th year.

A dozen years on, we were horrified when it dawned on us that we didn’t actually have a representative collection of his trademark linocut prints in the Lillie Art Gallery’s permanent collection – his local gallery!

Thanks to a grant from the National Fund for Acquisitions this shocking oversight has been remedied and we have an assemblage of 60 prints chosen for the collection by the artist himself.

Autumn

Autumn by Willie Rodger

Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a Blue Moon by Willie Rodger

And then there are Willie Rodger’s wonderful paintings, described by Liz Lochhead as, ‘deep saturations of pure colour’, but they’re for another day, another NFA application …

Peter McCormack
Museums Development Officer
East Dunbartonshire Leisure & Culture Trust

https://www.edlc.co.uk/heritage-arts/lillie-art-gallery

The Fiosaiche of the Isle of Lewis

Katie Hughes, a Museum Studies student at the University of Aberdeen, joined the National & International Partnerships Department on a work placement in June 2017. Here she writes about a mixed media sculpture, Fiosaiche (Soothsayer), 2016, by Will MacLean, acquired by University of Aberdeen Museums in 2017 with an NFA grant of £900.

This mixed media sculpture consists of a hand-held church collection box bearing a temporary object movement label from University of Aberdeen Museums. Within the box is a copy of a prayer book and key from the University’s collection which belonged to a fiosaiche, a soothsayer or fortune teller, who lived on the Isle of Lewis during the mid-19th century. The artwork was inspired by the deeds of the fiosaiche and his ultimate downfall.

DSC00416

Mixed media sculpture, Fiosaiche, 2016, by Will MacLean

 

In 1899, the Reverend Malcolm MacPhail, Minister of Kilmartin, wrote about the fiosaiche of the Isle of Lewis. He claims that the fiosaiche was a divisive figure whose activities caused trouble between neighbours.

There was a Fiosaiche – soothsayer – who pretended to be able to foretell future events, and to detect criminals in districts far and near. By so doing he often caused a good deal of ill-feeling and dispeace. At the period of which we write – in the forties – the individual who had consulted him and the neighbours incriminated, were from Gearraidh na h-Aibhne, a district thirty-five miles from Ness.

 John Munro Mackenzie, Esq, Factor of the Lewis Estates, accompanied the parties concerned to the Fiosaiche’s house. Mr MacKenzie interviewed him, and sharply reproved him for his dispeacable conduct, in setting good neighbours at each other’s throats with his lies. The Fiosaiche boldly replied that he told no lies, and that he had said nothing but what he ascertained from the Book. Mr MacKenzie said to him, “Can you read? What book do you consult?” He replied, ‘Though I cannot read, I can understand the signs. The book is my property, and you have no right to ask me questions about it.’

Rev MacPhail’s account is particularly valuable because he describes the method by which the soothsayer claimed to foretell the future and solve the problems which were brought to him.

… Mr Mackenzie asked his Ground Officer to go in to the Fiosaiche’s house and to bring out the book with him. To Mr MacKenzie’s surprise the book was none other than the Bible. An old rusty key, and a number of ribbons of various colours were attached to the Bible. By applying this key to certain of the ribbons, he maintained that by observing certain signs he was able to solve the different problems that came before him.

 

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Mixed media sculpture, Fiosaiche, 2016, by Will MacLean

 

During this period Pagan activity and witchcraft were ruthlessly suppressed by the established Church and Rev MacPhail went on to recount how the Bible was confiscated and that without it the fiosaiche lost his power.

Mr MacKenzie took possession of the Bible, and carried it away in spite of the false prophet’s protestations and loud curses. He thus crippled, maimed and discredited the Fiosaiche for the rest of his life.

(Extracts from Rev Malcolm MacPhail, Minister of Kilmartin, 1899)

The fiosaiche’s Bible and key were later presented to the University of Aberdeen by Alexander Thomson of Banchory House who received them from a Minister in Langholm in 1863. In his accompanying letter the Minister wrote:

 I said you should have it for your museum, so now I send it as a contribution to the history of superstition in the 19th century…

(Extract from letter to Alexander Thomson from Rev Mr F C Watson of Langholm, 1863)

I find this piece of artwork both fascinating and layered with history. I was drawn first to the story associated with the work, and continued to be drawn in by it; particularly the fact that it was inspired by objects from the museum’s collection; and that the original objects of inspiration have a traceable origin and accompanying letters detailing their history.

 

K Hughes
MLitt Museum Studies
University of Aberdeen

https://www.abdn.ac.uk/museums/

On Growth and Form – 100 years on and still growing

Limestone sculpture, In the Beginning, 2009, by Peter Randall-Page and digital c-print, Trifolium repens L.- top view – No.10, 2016, by Macoto Murayama, acquired in 2013 and 2016 by the University of Dundee Museum Collections with NFA grants of £15,000 and £1,267 respectively.

The University of Dundee has a long history of encouraging collaboration between art and science, going back to its origins in the 1880s when two of its most notable professors, D’Arcy Thompson (1860-1948), Professor of Biology, and Patrick Geddes (1854-1932), Professor of Botany, were pioneering visual thinkers who worked regularly with both scientists and artists. The art critic Herbert Read later told Thompson: ‘you have built the bridge between art and science’.

One of the most significant collections held by the University is that of the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum, comprising the surviving natural history specimens and teaching aids of the internationally renowned polymath. D’Arcy’s collection was used not only in teaching his students but also in researching his landmark book On Growth and Form, published one hundred years ago, which pioneered the new science of mathematical biology. Described as ‘the greatest work of prose in twentieth century science’, the book has had a huge influence in many fields. It showed that the complexity of nature can be understood through basic mathematical and physical laws and that living organisms are not static but constantly affected by the forces acting upon them. This has profoundly influenced many artists including Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Richard Hamilton, Jackson Pollock and Salvador Dali.

Over the past few years, the University has been building a collection of significant artworks inspired by D’Arcy Thompson’s ideas and collections, two of which have been grant-aided by the National Fund for Acquisitions.

The renowned British sculptor Peter Randall-Page RA (b1954) discovered On Growth and Form as an art student. His practice has always been informed and inspired by the study of natural phenomena, particularly the underlying principles determining growth. In his words ‘geometry is the theme on which nature plays her infinite variations’. With help from the NFA and the Art Fund, we were able to acquire his large-scale sculpture In the Beginning, which evokes cells multiplying within an expanding membrane. The sculpture is sited at the modern entrance to the University’s 19th-century Carnelley Building and can be visited by the public during normal working hours.

Peter Randall-Page sculpture installed

Limestone sculpture, In the Beginning, 2009, by Peter Randall-Page. University of Dundee Museum Services © the artist

 

Although the work of Japanese artist Macoto Murayama (b1984) takes a very different form, he too takes the mathematics of nature as his starting point. He has become internationally known for his exquisitely beautiful botanical artworks which he terms ‘inorganic flora’. These extraordinary images are created after minutely dissecting real flowers and studying them under a microscope. His drawings are then modelled in 3D imaging software and rendered into 2D compositions before being printed in large scale. The print we acquired is from a series showing white clover, Trifolium repens, and was created for an exhibition of his work we held in 2016.

Trifolium repens L.-top view-No.10

Digital c-print, Trifolium repens L.- top view – No 10, 1916, by Macoto Murayama. University of Dundee Museum Services © the artist

 

Macoto’s stunning print was one of almost 100 artworks from our D’Arcy Thompson art collection shown earlier this year in A Sketch of the Universe: Art, Science and the Influence of D’Arcy Thompson at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh. The exhibition kicked off a year of celebrations for the centenary of On Growth and Form, including events in New York, Amsterdam and London, culminating in a major conference and exhibition in Dundee in October. Further details can be found at www.ongrowthandform.org

Matthew Jarron
Curator of Museum Services
University of Dundee

www.dundee.ac.uk/museum

By the Light of the Moon

Oil on canvas, Moon, 2014, by Alison Watt, acquired by the City Art Centre (City of Edinburgh Museums & Galleries) in 2017 with an NFA grant of £9,500.

Earlier this year the City Art Centre in Edinburgh acquired a new painting by contemporary artist Alison Watt to add to its Scottish Art collection. Numbering over 4,800 artworks in a variety of media, this collection traces the development of art in Scotland from the 17th century to the present day. The acquisition of contemporary works is a key part of our collecting policy, ensuring that the collection continues to provide a comprehensive overview of Scottish art for future generations.

Alison Watt was born in Greenock in 1965 and studied at Glasgow School of Art during the 1980s. She first came to public attention in 1987 when she won the National Portrait Gallery’s prestigious annual Portrait Award. During the early part of her career, Watt concentrated on the human form, painting both portraits and female nudes. However, in the late 1990s she began to produce highly detailed depictions of fabric and drapery which reference the work of 18th and 19th century French artists such as Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) and Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825). Since then Watt’s style has become increasingly abstract, although her paintings remain rooted in the idea of human presence and absence.

Alison Watt - Moon, 2014- installed revised 2016_PRESS

Oil on canvas, Moon, 2014, by Alison Watt

Moon is a striking example of Watt’s mature work, which blends the influence of the Old Masters with the artist’s literary interests. The poetry of Norman MacCaig (1910-1996), with its focus on the small, often overlooked details of nature and their relationship to our wider understanding of the world, is of particular relevance. According to Watt, Moon relates specifically to MacCaig’s 1974 poem Praise of a Thorn Bush, which describes a transformation by moonlight:

at night you trap stars, and the moon
fills you with distances.

Like a piece of poetry, this quietly powerful painting invites a contemplative and intimate response.

Moon is the first artwork by Alison Watt to be acquired by the City Art Centre. It joins a growing collection of work by contemporary Scottish artists which includes important pieces by, among others, Nathan Coley (b1967), Christine Borland (b1965), Charles Avery (b1973) and Graham Fagan (b1966). It also strengthens the representation of female artists in the collection.

Alison Watt Installation Image

Moon on display at the City Art Centre

Moon can currently be seen at the City Art Centre in the new exhibition Edinburgh Alphabet: An A-Z of the City’s Collections. This show brings together over 300 objects drawn from across the City’s fine and applied art, social history, literary, archaeology and childhood collections. Within this diverse, multi-disciplinary display Moon is shown alongside a selection of historic and modern Scottish sculpture, revealing yet another dimension to this richly layered artwork.

Edinburgh Alphabet: An A-Z of the City’s Collections runs until 8 October 2017. For more information see: http://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/Venues/City-Art-Centre/Exhibitions/2017-18/Edinburgh-Alphabet

Dr Helen Scott
Curator (Fine Art)
City Art Centre, Edinburgh

http://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/