In August 2000, an exhibition called ‘The Homecoming’ was held in Kirkcudbright Town Hall which celebrated the ‘Kirkcudbright School’ of painters. This was followed in 2002 by an exhibition titled ‘The Fleming Collection’ with forty-four paintings from the Fleming-Wyfold Foundation. Thanks to the support of Lord Macfarlane, Glasgow Kelvingrove Gallery and the National Gallery in Edinburgh among others, an exhibition has been held here every summer since. For more information on past, present and future exhibitions please visit www.artiststown.org.uk. Along with these exhibitions Kirkcudbright has created an identity as the “Artists’ Town” and we are striving to create a permanent gallery to celebrate our heritage.
The ‘Kirkcudbright School’ of Painters.
Between around 1850 and 1950 Kirkcudbright was an established artists colony. It began with the emergence of the Faed family of acclaimed artists in Gatehouse of Fleet from the 1840’s and ended with the death, in 1949, of Jessie M King who, with her husband EA Taylor, settled in Kirkcudbright from 1920. During this time EA Hornel, whose family stretched back in the town many generations, also became established here as artist of note. Many others were involved with them, and encouraged by them to settle in or visit the town.
It is said that it was the quality of the light that brought these painters to Kirkcudbright. However, there can be no doubt that a stong attraction would also have been being part of a close-knit colony of artists, all working together at the pursuit they all lived for. Artists such as Charles Oppenheimer, W.S.MacGeorge, Bill Robson, David Gauld, Sir James Guthrie, Robert Sivell, Chris J Fergusson and William Mouncey all had a strong connection with the town. For lots more information on the artists of our area we encourage you to visit the In The Artists’ Footsteps website.
Now, another couple of generations on, Kirkcudbright is again becoming established as an Art Town and maybe sometime soon an artist’s colony again. The artists who are working in Kirkcudbright today along with the forward planning committees are all working hard in bringing the town back to what it was in the 1900s. An example of this can be found in the annual Kirkcudbright Art and Crafts Trail. A town where artists, as an artistic community, can thrive and develop a singular identity – the ‘New Kirkcudbright School’.