Theatre and Concert Hall Programmes

Venues in Ayrshire

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William Crozier (1930 - 2011)

A Maclaurin Trust Exhibition

1.   Catalogue Cover, William Crozier, Paintings and Drawings 1985.

2.   Catalogue, William Crozier, Paintings and Drawings 1985.

3.   Catalogue, William Crozier, Paintings and Drawings 1985.

4.   Catalogue,William Crozier, Paintings and Drawings 1985.

5.   Catalogue William Crozier, Paintings and Drawings 1985.

6.   Catalogue William Crozier, Paintings and Drawings 1985.

7.   Catalogue William Crozier, Paintings and Drawings 1985.

8.   Catalogue William Crozier, Paintings and Drawings 1985.

9   Catalogue William Crozier, Paintings and Drawings 1985.

10.   Catalogue William Crozier, Paintings and Drawings 1985.

11.   Catalogue William Crozier, Paintings and Drawings 1985.

William Crozier  ~  Paintingss and Drawings 1951-85

Maclaurin Art Gallery, Ayr


It is almost 34 years since William Crozier, then a young member of Ayr Sketch Club, prepared for his first exhibition. Since that show, he has followed in the footsteps of Ayrshire's two Roberts (Colquhoun and MacBryde) to Glasgow School of Art and on to London. Today, he can look back on more than a quarter of a century of work as an artist and teacher in Britain and overseas.

It is not uncommon for Scottish artists to find that they must make their mark beyond our borders before they are celebrated at home. We hope that this touring exhibition, following his recent shows at the Richard Demarco Gallery (1983) and the Edinburgh Festival (1984) will alert a wider audience to his work and confirm his position as a significant figure in British Art.

We must acknowledge the support of the Maclaurin Trust, who have made this exhibition possible, and thank the Scottish Arts Council for their encouragement and vital financial assistance. We are also indebted to Dr Pat Andrews of the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne for help in selecting the works. Finally, I must thank Katharine Crouan for her assessment of Crozier's work and Contour Press for their help in realising this catalogue.

Mike Bailey Exhibition Organiser


Mention the word Celtic and the critic is on dangerous ground, probably because most definitions smack too much of the twilight and too little of analysis. But if Scottish and Irish paintings of this century are to be studied on their own terms the critic cannot avoid identifying those qualities which set them apart. In the case of William Crozier these qualities are immediately recognisable: a furious "expressionist" colour range allied to elegant linear drawing in paint and, above all, an intense feeling for landscape. They display a deep romanticism which is not based on any whimsical nostalgia but grows out of a passionate engagement with the subject.

William Crozier's background is both Scottish and Irish. He might even claim "dual nationality" on account of his upbringing in Scotland and his Irish parentage. Bora in Glasgow in 1930, Crozier was brought up in the sedate Ayrshire coastal town of Troon. The family, however, came from Ballinderry, near Lisbume, and visits to this part of Ireland formed almost as important a part of his boyhood as the home environment of Ayrshire. From 1949 to 1953 Crozier studied painting and drawing in the approved "Scottish-French" manner at Glasgow School of Art where he remembers with some gratitude the encouragement of Mary and William Armour, and David Donaldson. At that time, in common with many of his fellow students, he found his attention increasingly drawn to the postwar culture of Paris." To be in Paris then was to be at the centre of the world. Anyone who was not young in 1949 and who did not sit in the Cafe Flore or the Deux Magots, where Sartre and Simone De Beauvoir were as gods, simply cannot appreciate the sheer excitement that enveloped the young of Europe emotionally, physically and intellectually"', Crozier wrote later. The intellectual climate of that post-war period marked him for life. Like Francis Bacon, Crozier took on the philosophy and mores of existentialism to such an extent that some thirty years later he could state that... "today my actions, my art, my concept of freedom and responsibility have their roots in the Boulevard St. Germain"2. In terms of art, the School of Paris introduced Crozier to the vocabulary of modern painting. By the late 1940s he had seen, and been overwhelmed by, the large exhibitions of work by Picasso and Matisse shown in Glasgow and London. For the young artist it was Picasso's seemingly limitless creative energy which made even the best efforts of British painting appear diffident, pallid and provincial by contrast. The three earliest paintings in this exhibition, Head of a Girl (Frieda Collins), Woman by the Shore and Troon, Evening, painted in 1950-51, show the student's naive attempts to incorporate the visual language of Picasso into subjects observed at firsthand in Scotland. The Picasso glimpsed through these modest little pictures, however, is one understood through the filter of more approachable talents, the older Scottish artists, Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde who were living in London. By 1953, when he finished his studies, Crozier naturally gravitated to London where these two Ayrshire artists provided, as it seemed, the ideal models of how Scots could be involved in avant-garde painting.

In his first London exhibitions in 195 7 Crozier showed abstract collages and reliefs (unfortunately unrepresented in this exhibition) but by 1958, when he took part in the first of many exhibitions at the Brian Gallery, he had arrived at the subject and content which would provide a lifetime's work. "I cannot give reasons for my concern with the landscape", he wrote, "if indeed it is a landscape, for I am more concerned with the black, stunted foliage of a bush screaming for life in a city square than the full-blown luxuriance of a grander nature"3. Essex Wilderness 1 (1959) was painted in Woolworth's household paint on cheap board. Paint was slashed onto the board in thick, dark strokes, almost as if Crozier was consciously turning his back on the belle peinture traditions of Glasgow in order to make a painting that was robust to the point of crudeness. To a certain extent Essex Wilderness recalls the 1940s neo-romantic landscapes of Graham Sutherland and Robert Colquhoun (cf. his Marrowfield, Gloucester in the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow) in its dark sense of a turbulent earth. The series of paintings Crozier made in Petmarsh,-Essex, provided exceptions to the urban landscapes, the "waste lots in Netting Hill, Soho or the derelict gardens of South London"4 which normally occupied him.

By the early 1960s Crozier had established a reputation as one of the leading painters of his generation, a fact which is amply confirmed in contemporary reviews of his work by Herbert Read and Norbert Lynton, and in the comfortable contract extended by the Arthur Tooth and Sons' Gallery. It was largely on the strength of this that Crozier was able to take himself off to Southern Spain in 1963. He lived for some time with an Irish writer, Anthony Cronin, in Alhaurin El Grande, a small hill pueblo in the hinterland of Malaga. This Spanish experience is crucial to an understanding of Crozier's later development; in Spain Crozier found a landscape as extreme in its contrasts as the intensity of the vision he brought to it, although for the first months of his stay he found himself unable to paint an environment whose forms and colours were so alien to a northern eye. The deceptively titled Monks Way (1963) and Sunset at Red Hill (1963) show the towering hill above Crozier's house in Alhaurin and, in the foreground, the twisting branches of a vine against the thin verticals of its cane supports. In Enclosure End (1963/4) the brilliant primaries are pitted against dramatic areas of black as Crozier learns to liberate colour from descriptive purpose and to exploit a natural facility for drawing in paint. From Spain, too, he gained a sense of the tragedy of landscape and an empathy with the ferocity of Spanish folk art, especially in the prints of the Mexican artist Jose Gaudalupe Posada which became the basis for the series of paintings of skeletal or winged figures set in the landscape. The terrifying subject-matter of these paintings had many sources, not the least being Crozier's preoccupation at that time (1960-70) with the victims of the war-time concentration camps. "The image of man in the twentieth century", Crozier believed, "will not be the cinema stars or pop idols, but the victims of Belsen"5, and, as if to exorcise the images from his imagination, he visited Belsen and Auschwitz to see for himself the sites of the camps. Moreover, by 1969, that inhumanity of the recent past was being re-enacted much closer to home, on a much more personally charged level for Crozier - in Northern Ireland. Crossmaglen Crucifixion (1974) was the artist's attempt to create a memorial in paint of this contemporary atrocity. "I would like an art", Crozier said of this time, "that is as a razor slash".

With hindsight, it is easy to see how out of sympathy was the tenor of Crozier's work and his range of European-based interests when set against the more hedonistic approach to painting in Britain during the 1960s. Moreover, although he had been excited by the shows of American painting at the Tate in 1956 and 1959, he was at a loss to understand the apparent subservience of much
Crossmaglen Crucifixion (Catalogue No. 14)
Water Meadows (Catalogue No. 2)

British art to its American abstract models. A view that was stated publicly in lectures at the ICA and at the Royal College of Art. However, to conclude that Crozier was opposed to abstract art is to present a false dichotomy, not least as he himself has always stressed that one of the major influences on his art has been Malevich. "He taught me how to build pictures". It was more the case that Crozier did (and still does) feel alienated from the anti-intellectualism which he feels is a recurrent strain in British painting. "I have little patience with the artist who claims some divine right to be obscure or inarticulate, who assumes that brutishness and gaucheness will pass for a self criticism or informed exchange of ideas", he explains.

Crozier is a prolific artist who works in bursts of frenetic activity. The genesis of his paintings is usually, but not always, in the many drawings he makes on the spot, in the landscape. These are not studies in the conventional sense, however, rather finished versions in their own right which move, as the subject is explored, from the topographical to the more inventive. He has written; "apart from the compositional structure of the painting and its colour, I invent very little"10, and when he feels that his knowledge of the subject and the idea of the painting have reached a state of counterpoint he begins to paint, working rapidly to commit this tension between subject and paint on to the canvas. It is no small coincidence that from 1954 to 1966 he worked intermittently in the theatre, designing and painting sets. It is as if the pattern established there of working at great speed under tremendous pressure to create the right effect had been absorbed into his painting practice. There is little or no drawing on the canvas before he begins, and little chance of salvaging a picture if a mistake is made.

The paintings and drawings in this exhibition span some thirty-odd years of a remarkably consistent -working life. The landscape subjects are still drawn from urban corners and municipal parks, such as BroomfieldParkNH (1975). Even downtown Manhattan was seen in terms of trees under the streetlights of Union Square (1979) or Gramercy Park (1979). Increasingly over this period, however, Crozier has felt more at home in the rural landscape, endlessly studying the area around his home in Winchester in the Watermeadows series. More recently the Irish part of his cultural inheritance has come to the fore; he has begun to paint the landscape of Roaring Water Bay in South West Ireland where he now lives for part of each year, and in these paintings there is a new urgency to make a contemporary landscape image without recourse to the anecdotal, descriptive or, worse, the rnerely pretty. Asked what effect he would like his work to have, Crozier replies that it must be optimistic, a clear statement of the glory of life, the excitement of art, the pleasure, the fun of it."

Katharine Crouan 1985

15. LANDSCAPE, Nl 4 Oil on canvas
1974 91 x76 cm
Oil on canvas
Oil on canvas (Illustrated)
Oil on canvas
Oil on canvas
Oil on canvas (Illustrated)
Oil on canvas
Oil on canvas
Oil on canvas
Oil on canvas
1977 210x277 cm
1977 181 x213 cm
1977 167x251 cm
c. 1968 213x172 cm
c. 1965 173x173 cm
c. 1968 91 x76 cm
c. 1969 172x172 cm
1961 153 x 122 cm
1980 210x228 cm
10. NORTH LONDON GARDEN 1980 Oil on canvas 92 x 76 cm
11. GRAMERCY PARK, NEW YORK Oil on canvas
216x239 cm
12. THE STUDIO AT NIGHT c. 1982 Oil on canvas 173x213 cm
13. UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK Oil on canvas (Illustrated)
1979 212x240 cm
c. 1974
Oil on canvas 216 x 229 cm
Exhibited Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool,
"Body and Soul" Cat. No. 48
16. ORKNEY 1977 Oil on canvas 177 x 244 cm Exhibited Scottish Arts Council, Edinburgh, 1978. "Painters in Parallel" Cat. No. 59
18. ESSEX WILDERNESS No. 1 1959 Oil on canvas 75 x 62 cm Exhibited Arts Council of Great Britain, London, 1964.
"Six Young Painters" Cat. No. 7 (Illustrated)
19. MONKS WAY Oil on board (Illustrated)
Oil on board
1963 100 x 100 cm
1963 100 x 100 cm
21. ENCLOSURE END 1964 Oil on canvas 125 x 122 cm Exhibited Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh, 1968 (Illustrated)
33. HEAD OF A GIRL 1950 (FRIEDA COLLINS) Oil on board (Frame size) 50 x 40 cm Exhibited Carnegie Library, Ayr, 1951
34. WOMAN BY THE SHORE 1950-51 Oil on board (Frame size) 50 x 40 cm Exhibited Carnegie Library, Ayr, 1951
35. TROON, EVENING 1950-51 Oil on board 50 x 40 cm Exhibited Carnegie Library, Ayr, 1951
Oil on canvas 107 x 114 cm
37. MCCARTHY'S FIELD, KILCOE Oil on canvas
1984 107 x 114 cm

22. DRAWING No. 1 1982 Ink on paper 45 x 63 cm
23. DRAWING No. 2 1982 Ink on paper 53 x 83 cm
24. DRAWING No. 3 1982 Ink on paper 53 x 83 cm
25. DRAWING No. 4
Ink on paper 45 x 63 cm
26. DRAWING No. 5 "DEATH AND THE MAIDEN" 1980 Ink on paper 45 x 63 cm
27. DRAWING No. 6 1982 Ink on paper 45 x 63 cm
28. DRAWING No. 7 1980 Ink on paper 45 x 63 cm
29. THE STUDIO 1982 Ink on paper 41x59 cm
30. THE BRIDGE 1982 Ink on paper 41x59 cm
31. DRAWING No. 8 1984 Watercolour and chalk 45 x 63 cm
1984 45 x 63 cm
William Crozier was born in 1930 at Yoker, Scotland, of Irish descent. Later his family moved to Troon, Ayrshire. Between 1949 and 1953 he studied at Glasgow School of Art.
Subsequently, Crozier has lived and worked in Paris, Dublin, Malaga, New York and London. The artist is Head of Fine Art at Winchester School of Art. He lives and works in Winchester and London but also spends a considerable part of each year in the South West of Ireland where he will provide the opening exhibition for the new Angela Flowers Gallery.
William Crozier is represented by the Brompton Gallery, London.
Aberdeen Art Gallery
Amsterdam, Peter Stuyvesant Collection
Birmingham City Art Gallery
Copenhagen Museum of Modern Art
Dallas Museum of Modern Art
Dumbarton Education Authority
Eastbourne, Towner Art Gallery
Eastern Arts Association
Edinburgh, Scottish Arts Council
Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern
Gateshead Museum and Art Gallery Glasgow City Art Gallery Huddersfield City Art Gallery Hull Education Authority Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery London, Victoria and Albert Museum London, Contemporary Arts Society London, Arts Council of Great Britain Manchester, City Art Gallery, Rutherston
Melbourne, National Gallery of Australia Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada Pittsburg, Carnegie Institute Sheffield City Art Gallery -~- * Southern Arts Association Stirling University
Sydney National Gallery of New South Wales Warsaw Museum of Modern Art Worcester, Dudley Art Gallery

The Carnegie Library Gallery, Ayr.
Parton Gallery, London. Institute of
Contemporary Arts, London.
Arthur Tooth and Sons, London.
Drian Galleries, London. Gallery Blu, Milan. Madeleine Gallery, Paris. Arnolfmi Gallery, Bristol. Traverse Art Gallery, Edinburgh. New Charing Cross Gallery, Glasgow. Richard Demarco Gallery,
Compass Gallery, Glasgow. Gallery Stern, Cologne. Serpentine Gallery, London. Havant Arts Centre, Havant,
Hampshire. Swiss Cottage Library Gallery,
London. Winchester College Gallery,
Winchester. Richard Demarco Gallery,
Brompton Gallery, London. Windsor Arts Centre, Windsor. Demarcation '84, Edinburgh Festival Galleria del Cavallino, Venice
1957 Pictures without Paint, A.I.A. Gallery, London.
1958 Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne.
1959 Galerie Colette Allendy, Paris. 1959 Gres Gallery, Washington DC, USA.
1959 Ben Uri Gallery, London.
1960 Silkeborg Museum, Denmark. 1960 Galerie Muller, Stuttgart. 1961. Redfern Art Gallery, London.
1961 Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg,USA. 1961/63/64 John Moores, Liverpool.
1962 Cheltenham Art Gallery, Cheltenham. 1962 Stedik Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven. 1962 Kunstverein, Hanover. 1962 Manchester City Art Gallery 1963. Premio Lissone, Milan. 1963 'British Painting in the 60's', Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. 1963 Arnolfmi, Bristol. 1963 San Francisco Museum of Art
1963 Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art.
1964 Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf.
1964 Arts Council of Great Britain,
1964 University of Glasgow. 1964 Ind Coope Art Collection, London
and Tour. 1966 Drian Art Gallery, London.
1966 Derwent College, York.
1967 Scottish Arts Council Gallery, Edinburgh.
1968 National Gallery of Canada.
1969 University of Stirling.
1969 Camden Arts Centre, London.
1969 Drian Art Gallery, London.
1970 Aberdeen Art Gallery. 1970 Dundee Art Gallery. 1970 York University
1974 'British Figurative Art Today', Copenhagen.
1975 Herzlandschaften International, Galerie Stein, Cologne.
1975 'Body and Soul', Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
1977 'Expressionism', Scottish Arts Council.

1977 'Language of Drawing', Polytechnic of Central London.
1978 'Painters in Parallel', Edinburgh. 1978 London Group, London.
1978 Muzeum Narodowe, Warsaw.
1979 New York Studio School, New York. 1979 Tolly Cobold III, Cambridge and
1979 Sandford Gallery, London. 1979 Independent Artists Group, Dublin. 1981 Sandford Gallery, London. 1981 'Fragments Against Ruin', Arts
Council Touring Exhibition. 1982/83 John Moores, Liverpool. 1983 Tolly Cobold IV, Cambridge and
1983 'British Art: New Directions' Puck Building, New York.
1984 Muzeum Narodowe, Gdansk,
1984 Angela Flowers Gallery, London. 1984 Ulster Polytechnic, Belfast. 1984 Television South West Arts. Newlyn,
Plymouth and Tour. 1984 ARCO, Madrid. 1984 London C ontemporary Art F air
Maclaurin Art Gallery Rozelle Park, Ayr
Saturday 4 May to Sunday 2 June 1985
Monday - Saturday Sunday
: 11 am- 5pm : 2pm-5pm
The exhibition will be on tour to other Scottish Galleries during 1985 and 1986.
Subsidised by the Scottish /Vrts Council
Exhibition organised for the Maclaurin Trust
by Kyle and Carrick District Library and
Museum Services.
Photographs and Exhibition Selection by
Mike Bailey Layout and Printing by Contour Press, Ayr.
© Maclaurin Art Gallery, 1985.