Alasdair Taylor retrospective to open this month

A major retrospective of work by Scottish artist Alasdair Taylor is set to open this month.

Born in 1936 near Tain, Taylor trained at the Glasgow School of Art winning the prestigious Governor’s Prize for a painting he made in his third year.

In 1964, he made headlines when his painting, Umbrella Morals, was temporarily removed from an exhibition at Glasgow University pending a police enquiry. 

He also became an art critic for BBC Radio Four in Scotland in the 1970s, and featured in a BBC Scotland Scope documentary all about his life and work in 1974.

In the 1970s, some 25 years before Banksy came on the scene, he was creating large free-style graffiti paintings using car spray paint. 

His work veered into total abstraction at times, but he painted portraits and figures to the end. 

Over the years his work was exhibited at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, but for the latter part of his life, Taylor shied away from fame and fortune to make art. 

After a spell living in Glasgow, Taylor, his wife and two young daughters, moved to a remote corner of north Ayrshire.

Northbank Cottage, outside Portencross, was a 300-year-old dwelling, with no electricity or basic amenities, and was far from other habitations. 

Here, Taylor he continued to create for the next five decades, never caring whether he sold or not – he thought of his paintings and sculpture as if they were his children.

Writer and artist Alasdair Gray became lifelong friend of Taylor’s saying: ‘He is a lyrical painter whose colour, like a musician’s sound, makes sombre and radiant feelings without showing the social life causing them.’ 

Alasdair Gray with Alasdair Taylor

Taylor died in 2007 but his daughters Anna McCabe and Jean Camplisson, have been keepers of his amazing archive of paintings and sculpture. 

Along with the likes of Gray, before he died in 2019, they have lobbied continuously for a major retrospective of their father’s work.

Now, 16 years after his death, the Maclaurin Gallery in Ayr is hosting such an exhibition.  

Opening on 22 July and running until 3 September, the Alasdair Taylor Retrospective will allow visitors to see what the incredible artist’s work.

Read more on Scottish Field’s News pages. 

Plus, don’t miss the July issue of Scottish Field magazine.