Visual Arts In Ayrshire

The Maclaurin Art Gallery and Rozelle

Maclaurin Art Gallery 1976 - 2013

1.   Courtyard

2. Moore


3. Stead

4. Rapunzelle


The Maclaurin Art Gallery

1.    Gallery Courtyard, showing former coach house. The paving of the courtyard area was recovered from the previous buildings.   Recent developments have included the conversion of Gallery One into a craft outlet, relocating a facility previously in Rozelle House.

Date: ca1980
Photograph: ©MBailey

2.  Working Model for Draped Reclining Figure 1976-79 (LH 705) when sited in the Maclaurin Art Gallery courtyard c.1988.  Henry Spencer Moore OM CH FBA RBS (1898 – 1986).  Bronze, edition of 9 (cast #2) length 990mm.  Collection of South Ayrshire Council.   Purchased by Kyle and Carrick District Council with financial assistance from the Local Museum Purchase Fund, the Scottish Arts Council, Ayr Arts Guild and local subscription.  

Date: ca1988
Photograph: ©MBailey

3. Exhibition in Gallery 3. Tim Stead Chess Pieces,  Maclaurin Art Gallery.

Date: 1994
Photograph: ©MBailey

4.  Storytime at the opening of the Grapnel exhibition. Tommy Hay, clarinet and Bernadette Donnelly, storyteller. Maclaurin Art Gallery.

Date: 1993
Photograph ©MBailey

The Maclaurin Art Gallery

The Maclaurin Art Gallery opened in June 1976.  The gallery spaces were created within the former stables and servant's quarters in the East Wing of Rozelle House, a listed building that was gifted to the Royal Burgh of Ayr in 1968 by Commander Hamilton of Monkwood, former owner of the Rozelle estate and policies.

There were four distinct gallery spaces, two on each side of the entrance arch.  Gallery One was created within the coach house and the three doorways remained as window features overlooking the cobbled courtyard.  These spaces are leased, from Ayr Common Good Fund, by the Maclaurin Trust   The rent is nominal and the lease is in excess of 100 years.

A further gallery space was earmarked for an audio visual display and park interpretation section. Planned as a joint venture between the local authority and the Rotary Club of Ayr, this centre was not completed and the space remained as an empty but secure shell.  Some ten years after the opening of the gallery, this vacant space was upgraded for gallery use. 

With no natural light, the space was ideal for installations and exhibitions that required dramatic or finely controlled lighting.  Initially, this gallery was fitted with high quality 'stage lighting' control equipment which could be used for theatrical events in the courtyard.  This fifth gallery space had been used for storage from 1997 until 2013 when it was refurbished with funds raised by the Friends of Rozelle.

Between 1976 and 1980 the courtyard was used as a theatre space for performances linked to the Robert Burns Festival.  The Henry Moore bronze, Draped Reclining Figure 1976-79 owned by the district council was displayed in the courtyard for a number of years before security concerns prompted the removal to Rozelle House.

The gallery conversion was designed by Cowie Torry Architects with Ian McGill, as senior partner, overseeing the project.   Construction work was undertaken by William Paton and Company, with all design and construction costs shared between the Royal Burgh of Ayr and the Maclaurin Trust.  The building and the designers received a Civic Trust Commendation in 1977 and an Award from the Glasgow Institute of Architecture in 1979.

From 1985 the gallery was attracting high value international exhibitions by major artists and was successful in attracting government indemnity to cover insurance costs for major projects. In 1996 the Trust considered further developments to the gallery to ensure that the exhibition and storage spaces complied with the latest conservation and security standards demanded by exhibitors.  A change from under floor electrical heating was also considered, with plans to install a full air conditioning system.  Due to the changes in local authority structures and staffing constraints, it was not possible to pursue these plans at that time.  Had this scheme been realised, there would have been substantial support (in kind) from the German glass manufacturer Schott AG.

Since 2011, the Trust has been considering fresh proposals to refurbish and extend the gallery spaces and the facilities for exhibitions, education activities and collection storage. ARPL Associates have developed designs for gallery improvements and grant aid is now available for some of the work.  The current proposals show some similarities to the earlier scheme.

The opening exhibition at the gallery was provided by Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. That display featured works covering a period of more than two centuries, including items by major Scottish painters such as Knox and McCulloch. One room within the exhibition spaces were devoted to contemporary works by British artists.  As the Maclaurin Collection was developed, some of these 20th century artists were represented in the permanent collection.

The first locally produced exhibitions opened in October 1976. A Netherlands Artist, Mies Murphy Steegers, exhibited a collection of wall hangings together with paintings by Kilmarnock-based painter Davy Brown.  The remaining exhibition space was devoted to a display of Ayrshire Whitework drawn from the local museum collections.  Subsequent exhibitions during the winter months were based on the local art collections, culminating in the 75th anniversary exhibition by members of Ayr Sketch Club.

This page is based on recollections by Mike Bailey, Gallery Director 1976 - 1997, and other published sources.   Mrs Mary E Maclaurin's Trust is a Registered Scottish Charity

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