Stunning New Exhibition Comes to Kirkcudbright Galleries This Spring

An exhibition celebrating the art of William Hanna Clarke (1882–1924) and his great niece Alison Kinnaird MBE, internationally renowned glass artist.

William Hanna Clarke was a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, a stalwart of the Kirkcudbright Artists’ Colony and a prolific and successful artist despite his early death. His great niece Alison Kinnaird M.B.E has carried on the gift of artistic talent and has become an internationally celebrated glass engraver as well as a talented musician. Creative Legacies, on show now in Gallery Two at Kirkcudbright Galleries, celebrates this talented family with a unique exhibition of their combined works.

Clarke was born in Glasgow to Alexander Clarke, a Northern Ireland émigré, and Margaret Cooper, the daughter of a Kirkintilloch Chemist. As with many artists, William was encouraged to qualify for a profession beyond his already burgeoning passion for art, and with his mothers’ encouragement he trained as a dentist, qualifying in 1904.

However, he did not let this ‘sensible’ career stop him from his first love and in 1909 he was accepted into the Glasgow School of Art, which was then under the influential directorship of Fra Newbery. Juggling the two careers for a few years, Clarke worked in London until two successful submissions to the Royal Glasgow Institute of Arts in 1911 and 1912 persuaded him that he could follow his heart. He and his wife, Betty, moved back to Scotland and by 1915 they had joined the thriving Artists’ Community in Kirkcudbright.

William Hanna Clarke showed that the: “idyllic sense of colour, sunlight and the pastoral life surrounding farm steadings and the intimate woodlands captivate him most.”

Clarke was able to earn a good living as an artist and in 1924 began building a new house for his family in Kirkcudbright, but he was tragically killed in an accident before he could truly enjoy his success. Despite only 12 years as a professional artist Clarke has left an impressive body of work. His deftness with colour, subtle use of figures and clear love of landscape are a testament to his skill, which offers us a glimpse of what could have been. The publication of William Hanna Clarke: A Kirkcudbright Artist by Christine Wimbush in 2019 has helped to create a lasting record of one of the notable Kirkcudbright artists of the early 20th century.

Alison Kinnaird has an international reputation as a visual artist and musician. She works primarily from her home and studio, a converted church near Edinburgh, Scotland.

One of the world’s leading glass artists and engravers, with work in public, royal and private collections throughout Europe, America and the Far East, Alison’s glass ranges from small intimate pieces to largescale architectural installations which incorporate light and colour. A recipient of many awards and winner of many competitions, her creative contribution was recognised in 1997, when she was presented with an M.B.E for services to art and music.

Alison is also one of the foremost exponents of Scottish harp music, playing both gut and wire-strung Scottish harps. She was the first player to make a recording of Scottish harp music and co-wrote (with Keith Sanger) ‘The Tree of Strings’, a history of the harp in Scotland, as well as producing many other recordings and printed collections of music. She is much in demand at home and abroad as a performer, lecturer, and teacher in both her fields.

Speaking on ‘Creative Legacies’, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee, Councillor Ian Blake, commented: “This exhibition provides a harmony between the family ties of William Hanna Clarke and Alison Kinnaird M.B.E, but also a contrast in the mediums both artists have worked from. We are absolutely thrilled to be able to bring such unique and remarkable sculptures by one of the world’s leading glass engravers to Dumfries and Galloway.”
Vice Chair of Communities Committee, Councillor Jackie McCamon said: “Showcasing the importance of William Hanna Clarke in the centennial year since his passing, alongside glasswork by Alison Kinnaird M.B.E, Creative Legacies is an exhibition that is both thought provoking and inspiring. The range of exhibitions that Kirkcudbright Galleries can display continues to promote tourism to the region.”

The exhibition is on show until Sunday 16 June. Free entry to this exhibition, but donations are welcome. Kirkcudbright Galleries are now in Summer Hours that are Monday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm, and Sundays: 11:30 – 5pm. The last entry to major exhibitions at 4:45pm.


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