An Ayrshire Arts Archive ~ Arts Groups and Venues

Maclaurin Art Gallery 1976 - 1997

For twenty years, from 1978, the Maclaurin Art Gallery was one of the leading contemporary art venues in Scotland and the north of England.  The exhibition programme was international in outlook and the gallery attracted many important smaller scale touring exhibitions in addition to showing the work of Ayrshire artists.  Today, after fallow period, there is renewed vigour in the gallery with a programme of broad appeal, with a Scottish emphasis.


When the gallery opened in June 1976 forward planning was limited and the development of a full exhibition programme for the earliest years awaited the arrival of qualified and experienced staff.  The opening exhibition, which was in place until late September, 1976, was a loan collection from Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum at Kelvingrove.  The bulk of this show was Scottish Art of the 18th and 19th Century, supported by a small number of contemporary works.  Artists such as Knox and Horatio McCulloch were included in the selection of works on loan from Glasgow.

For the second exhibition, opening in late September, the gallery was divided with a display of Ayrshire Whitework in rooms and two offset by an exhibition of contemporary art in the remaining spaces. This exhibition featured mixed media work by a Netherlands artist, Mies Murphy Steegers, together with paintings by Davy Brown, then a teacher in Kilmarnock.

Over the winter months opening hours were curtailed and the gallery spaces were partially closed, with rooms three and four devoted to material from Kyle and Carrick District Council Collections.  During this quiet period the Curators were considering future policy, particularly in relation to proposals that local artists might be allowed to offer work for sale from the gallery exhibitions.

By 1979 the gallery was well established and all the spaces were open throughout the year. The first Scottish Arts Council touring exhibition (Hepworth Bronzes had been shown and the gallery staff were preparing their first touring exhibition featuring a major British artist and stage designer (Ralph Koltai).

Creative Ayrshire acknowledges the assistance of Mike Bailey, Brian Murphy, Inge X Husemann and Marina Mentoni for the provision of material for this section of the website. 

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