‘Syd Walker, Montrose Basin: A Panoramic Experience’ is at
ANGUSalive’s Montrose Museum & Art Gallery
From Saturday 13th October to Saturday 3rd November
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10am – 5pm.
Two Montrose sisters have retraced their late father, Syd Walker’s footsteps to the ‘centre of the mud’, as part of their preparations to exhibit his most ambitious artwork for the first time in more than 20 years.
With the guidance of local rangers, Fiona and Kirsten Ritchie Walker repeated Syd’s journey into the centre of Montrose Basin, which is the viewpoint of his 360 degrees panoramic painting, taking in the town’s distinctive skyline and surrounding Angus countryside.
The 10-panel painting creates a 62 foot circular artwork which will be on display at ANGUSalive’s Montrose Museum & Art Gallery from Saturday October 13 for three weeks.
Members of the public are invited to walk into the centre to experience the painting ‘in the round’, just as they did when it was first displayed in the museum in 1996 – breaking all visitor records for the venue.
It took Syd two years to complete this challenging artwork, but although he started work on it in 1994, it had been his dream for 40 years, as Fiona explained.
“Dad was born in Birmingham and in 1956, two years after he married Mum, Elizabeth Ritchie, they moved to her home town of Montrose. He was really drawn to the Basin and fascinated by the landscape as the tides filled and emptied the sea loch each day. When Kirsten and I were at primary school, Mum and Dad would often pick us up at lunchtime and we’d have a picnic on Rossie Island, overlooking the Basin. I’m sure all those visits fuelled his dream of creating the panoramic painting.”
But Syd was kept busy, running a pottery, shop and gallery in the town. After an articulated lorry jack-knifed into the Bridge Street shop in 1968, completely destroying it, he and Elizabeth renovated a former newsagent’s shop in the High Street. They turned it into a shop and coffee house, which was followed by The Stables Art Centre - a gallery, pottery and studio in a former coach house.
As a Scottish Arts Council lecturer, Syd became well-known throughout Scotland, travelling all over – and in all weathers – to give painting and pottery demonstrations. In 1998, he was awarded an MBE for his services to art in the community.
Syd died in 2015 and with Elizabeth having died the following year, their daughters have been working with ANGUSalive to exhibit the panoramic painting and allow a new generation to experience it.
“I often spent time painting with Dad,” said Kirsten, who is now a professional artist in Montrose. “Walking to the centre of the Basin not only allowed me to gain his perspective on the landscape, but made me aware of the changes that have taken place since he stood there, sketching and taking notes. The painting is not just an artist’s view of the landscape but captures the recent history of the place too.”
ANGUSalive’s Visual Arts Officer Gill Ross said “We are delighted to bring Syd Walker’s Montrose Basin panorama back to Montrose Museum & Art Gallery. It’s exciting bringing the vast expanse of the Montrose Basin surrounded by light and water into one installation for our visitors to enjoy. It has been a pleasure working with Syd’s daughters Fiona and Kirsten who have taken excellent care of this artwork and worked hard to share it with the community of Montrose and beyond.”