30 Years of The Fergusson Gallery

I enjoyed choosing a work for inclusion in the ‘30 Years of The Fergusson Gallery‘ display which runs at the gallery until 31 October 2022.

John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961), Plenitude d’Olivier
The Fergusson Gallery, Perth & Kinross Council: Presented by the J. D. Fergusson Art Foundation 1991
(c) Perth & Kinross Council

The J. D. Fergusson Art Foundation

John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961) is one of Scotland’s most important twentieth-century artists. He is known as one of the Scottish Colourists, alongside F. C. B. Cadell, S. J. Peploe and G. L. Hunter. On Fergusson’s death in Glasgow in 1961, his estate was inherited by his partner, the dance pioneer Margaret Morris (1891-1980). She established the J. D. Fergusson Art Foundation two years later. Its primary purpose was to secure the artist’s legacy through a memorial gallery with a permanent collection of his work.

John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961), Le manteau chinois (Anne Estelle Rice), 1909
The Fergusson Gallery, Perth & Kinross Council: Presented by the J. D. Fergusson Art Foundation 1991
(c) Perth & Kinross Council

The Fergusson Gallery

Although Morris herself died in 1981, the Trustees of the Foundation gifted just under 4.000 works by Fergusson, as well as a significant archive, to Perth & Kinross Council in 1991. The following year, they opened The Fergusson Gallery in a converted waterworks building in the heart of Perth.

John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961), Christmas Time in the South of France, 1922
The Fergusson Gallery, Perth & Kinross Council: Purchased 1998
(c) Perth & Kinross Council

The Fergusson Gallery is 30

To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the gallery’s opening, various people with connections to the artist were invited to choose a work from its collection for display. Having curated the National Galleries of Scotland touring Fergusson retrospective exhibition, I was delighted to be asked to take part. I chose his sculpture Plenitude d’Olivier, which he originally carved in olive wood in 1926. This brass version was cast at a later date. Not only it is a beautiful work, it also highlights the lesser known fact that Fergusson made and exhibited sculpture for over thirty-five years. The title means the ‘richness’ or ‘strength’ of the olive tree. As in many of his works, the female nude is linked to the fundamental life force of nature.

Other selectors involved in the display include Kirsten Simister, the founding curator of the gallery, Andy Cottier, the gallery technician and Roger Billcliffe, a Trustee of the J. D. Fergusson Art Foundation; they chose the paintings included in this article respectively.

John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961), Bathing Boxes and Tents at St Palais, 1910
The Fergusson Gallery, Perth & Kinross Council: Presented by the J. D. Fergusson Art Foundation 1991
(c) Perth & Kinross Council

Fergus and Meg

In 2010, the International Association of Margaret Morris Movement presented her collection to The Fergusson Gallery. It is thus the centre of excellence for both of these leading modern creatives, who were known as ‘Fergus’ and ‘Meg’ to their friends. The gallery mounts a lively programme of displays and events based on their holdings and works by associated artists – and is well worth a visit!

For more about Fergusson you might enjoy this blog, whilst a portrait he painted of Morris is discussed in this feature.

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