“Carmichael’s studio in the Nethergate is like an oasis in the desert… As manifestations of the Scottish psyche – as glimpses into the soul of Celtic imagery – [his paintings] stand in a category of their own… These are wild, weird designs, full of unique psychological interest. If I was asked ‘What is a Scotsman?’ I could scarcely do better than show my interrogator one of these compositions” – Hugh MacDiarmid, 1925
“one of the first truly Modernist Scottish artists, a painter of real stature.” – Alan Riach, 2008
2017 marks 150 years since the birth of one of Dundee’s most significant artists, Stewart Carmichael (1867-1950). For six decades, Carmichael was one of the leading figures of Dundee’s cultural scene, a constant champion for the role of art and culture in society
He created murals for churches and other public buildings, and played an important role in the development of early art collectives such as Dundee Art Society and the first shared artists’ studios in the city. He was also a vocal supporter of art education, including what is now Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, serving on its board of governors for many years.
Carmichael is best known, however, for his leading role in the Celtic Revival movement in Dundee, creating striking paintings of scenes from Celtic mythology and Scottish history. He was also actively involved in promoting Gaelic culture through the Dundee Highland Society and Dundee Gaelic Musical Association, and was highly politically engaged as a socialist and nationalist.
This is the first major exhibition devoted to Carmichael since the memorial show following his death in 1950. It has been created in partnership with The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum who (like Carmichael) celebrate their 150th anniversary this year. It also includes artworks held by the University of Dundee Museum Services, Perth Museum & Art Gallery, Angus Alive, the University of St Andrews Museum Collections, Dundee Art Society and various private collections, along with documentary material held in the University Archives, Dundee Central Library and Dundee City Archives.
You can find out more about Carmichael in the book Independent & Individualist: Art in Dundee 1867-1924
Special Event - curator Matthew Jarron will give a free talk about Carmichael followed by a tour of the exhibition on Saturday 5 August at 2pm. No need to book - meet in the Tower Building.
Image: The Sacrifice of Isaac, 1923 (Culture Perth & Kinross)