Moira Macgregor (1931-2016) was a graduate from Dundee College of Art (now Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design) and built an international career as a fashion illustrator, editor and painter. Her work is characterised by her skilful draughtsmanship and a close attention to detail. In 2017, Macgregor’s family donated a significant collection of her work to the University of Dundee, in accordance with her wishes. This exhibition presents a selection of this generous gift spanning her entire career and provides an insight into the development of her artistic practice. Her stylish fashion illustrations reflect the spirit of the 1960s and 1970s, while minutely detailed representations of food evolve into pared-down abstractions as Macgregor developed her view of the world. The collection shows the full breadth of her skill as a designer, illustrator, painter and printmaker.
Moira Macgregor was born in Dundee. After leaving Harris Academy she studied Drawing & Painting at Dundee College of Art. With Alberto Morrocco at the helm, the College had a reputation for strong draughtsmanship, clearly visible in Macgregor’s illustrations. Fellow student David Walker recalls her “absolute mastery of figure drawing”. After graduation in 1954 she was awarded a travelling scholarship to Rome.
After working in the Netherlands in 1958-9, Macgregor moved to London to work as fashion illustrator with Helen Jardine Artists agency. She made friends with her colleague Barbara Hulanicki who would go on to found Biba in 1963. That year she married fellow designer John McConnell, and both worked for Biba. Macgregor also created the popular ‘Capable Kate’ for Honey magazine. During this time, she worked as illustrator and editor for lifestyle columns in The Observer, Woman’s Own, Nova and Glamour magazines among others.
In the 1980s and ‘90s, Macgregor’s focus shifted to highly realistic illustrations for advertising, book publishing and packaging. However, art was not just a job for her – she constantly observed the world around her and experimented with different techniques. From 1983 she exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy summer exhibitions and never stopped creating throughout her life.
As well as presenting Moira’s collection to the University, her family have endowed an annual bursary at DJCAD to support a student in undertaking a cultural study visit to another country, reflecting Moira’s own life-enhancing scholarship awarded by the College.