“In Galloway one either fishes or paints….” So said Dorothy L. Sayers in the introduction to Five Red Herrings (1931), which she based on her regular visits to the town’s artistic community in the 1920s. She may well have had the artist William Robson in mind, remembering his enthusiasm for fly fishing and field sports in general.
Kirkcudbright was then home to distinguished artists, of whom E.A. Hornel, Jessie M. King and her husband, E.A. Taylor, and Charles Oppenheimer were the most prominent. It was also the summer haunt of visiting artists, such as S.J. Peploe, the Scottish Colourist, and Robert Burns, Head of Painting at Edinburgh College of Art. It was Burns who said that no student’s training was complete without a stay with the Taylors in Kirkcudbright.
Many examples of the works of these famous artists of the past are still to be found in the town. The story of the town’s artists is told in the Tolbooth Art Centre, and their work can be seen there, and in the Hornel Art Gallery at Broughton House and at The Stewartry Museum (see our galleries page).
But this is a never-ending story, for a remarkable number of artists and craftworkers are still resident in Kirkcudbright and the surrounding area. The work of the current generation can be seen in exhibitions in the town’s galleries, and some of the artists themselves can sometimes be seen at work in the studios in the Tolbooth Art Centre.
The Artists’ Footsteps Website has more information on the landscape artists of Dumfries and Galloway and contains many beautiful images of Kirkcudbright.
Further very interesting reading can be found on the website of the Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries. Start at their page on the ‘Kirkcudbright School’ and look for the links to the Kirkcudbright Artist’s pages.