Artist at work

Pottery (Photographs by Richard Else)

Sketches and drawings


The life and work of Montrose artist and potter, Syd Walker, was celebrated in and exhibition at Montrose Museum in late 2016.

The retrospective provided a unique opportunity to view paintings and pottery spanning almost 60 years and also gave insight into Syd’s wartime roles as ARP officer and Bevin Boy.

Examples of pots and ceramic jewellery from these early years were on display, along with some of Syd’s paints and palettes, plus the smock he wore when working in the pottery.

Using photographs and newspaper cuttings, the exhibition documented how in 1968 an articulated lorry jack-knifed into the shop, completely destroying it. In the search for new premises, Syd and Elizabeth bought a newsagent’s shop at the Ballhouse which they turned into a shop and Coffee House in 1969. Three years later, they converted an old coach house in the Queen’s Close into The Stables Art Centre, which ran successfully for more than 30 years, providing a showcase for Syd’s pottery and paintings.

The wide range of paintings and drawings on display included Syd’s ‘trademark’ images of Montrose scenes such as the Steeple and Kirk Steps, as well as Angus landscapes and paintings from his paintings trips in Europe and the USA.

Although there was not enough space to display Syd’s panoramic painting of Montrose Basin – which broke all visitor records when shown at Montrose Museum in 1996 – images of him working on it formed part of a film being shown at the exhibition.

Syd’s great passions included making art accessible to everyone – he was awarded an MBE for his services to art in the community – and gaining recognition for the Bevin Boys, who helped to keep Britain supplied with coal during World War Two. The lamp he used while working down the mines was on display, along with his ARP uniform.

Graeme Cruickshank, Scottish Pottery Studies, said: “Syd Walker was not a potter who can be readily slotted into any pre-formed niche.  At a time when the once-great Scottish pottery  industry was in its twilight years, he worked hard to create a range of small goods which were at the same time both functional and attractive,  and often decorated by the skilled brushwork of an artist of true merit.”

We would like to express our sincere thanks and gratitude to Montrose Museum for housing the exhibtion and for all those who attended

All photos remain the property of Syd Walker and family. No images to be used without express written consent. 

© 2016 by Robbie Thomson

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