Website. The Red House, Durisdeer- William Gillies @ HM

Gillies: Modernism and Nation

Gillies: Modernism and Nation

A Royal Scottish Academy Touring Exhibition

Gillies: Modernism and Nation is a fresh look at the significance of Sir William George Gillies RSA (1893-1973) in the history of twentieth-century Scottish art.

2023 marks both the 125th anniversary of Gillies’ birth and the 50th anniversary of his death and Live Borders are delighted to be able to work with the RSA to bring this important work to the Scottish Borders.

This exhibition, which features paintings, drawings and associated photographs, archives and objects from Gillies’ career, presents a new perspective on one of Scotland’s greatest twentieth-century painters and places him firmly within the story of British Modernism.

Born in Haddington, Gillies studied at the Edinburgh College of Art. He travelled widely, returning to the college after the First World War as an accomplished artist and tutor, where he taught for more than forty years until his retirement as Principal in 1966. He was a hugely influential, if not the most influential painter in the Scottish twentieth century, and inspired countless artists to follow his lead and passion in paint.

Throughout his career Gillies explored and developed different approaches to his painting, absorbing European modernism and redirecting it through an art that was intimately connected to his life. Experimenting with cubism after studying in Paris in 1923, the revelatory discovery of Edvard Munch in an SSA exhibition in 1931 opened further doors to Expressionism, abstraction, symbol, the art of Paul Klee, the naiveties of child art, and the latter-day French belle peinture. The results emerged over the following thirty years and across the full range of his painting – in portraiture, still life and landscape – as he attempted to find a voice for his isolation.

The exhibition is accompanied and inspired by a groundbreaking new book on the artist. William Gillies: Modernism and Nation in British Art by Andrew McPherson, published by Edinburgh University Press in partnership with the RSA, boldly reinterprets Gillies’ life and art through the lenses of Modernism and the traumas of his life.


When & where

Date: Jul 06 - Oct 20

Hawick Museum

Pricing details:

Free – donations welcome