An Ayrshire Arts Archive ~ Arts Groups and Venues

Maclaurin Art Gallery 1976 - 2014

Works in the second exhibition, October 1976

1. Mies 1

2. Mies 2

Mrs Maclaurin's Trust ~ September 1976 Exhibition

1.   Wall Hanging, Mies Murphy Steegers. magnify ©Mies Steegers

2.   Collage, Mies Murphy Steegers magnify ©Mies Steegers

Mrs Maclaurin's Trust

In 1971, Mrs Maclaurin's bequest provided a considerable sum of money for the establishment of a museum or an art gallery in memory of her husband, James Henry Maclaurin.  James Maclaurin died in December 1919. The memorial was intended to be of direct benefit to the people of Ayr, and the Provost and Magistrates of the Royal Burgh were to assist the Trustees in the development of the facility.

Mrs Maclaurin's will stipulated that the funds in her bequest were to be applied to the establishment of the museum within five years of her death.  If this objective was not achieved the funds would be diverted to animal welfare.  The Maclaurin Art Gallery is the result of Mrs Maclaurin's generous gesture and, in practice, the benefit has extended far beyond the burgh.

Progress in realising the gallery was slow.  It proved difficult to identify a suitable location and there was considerable pressure from artist groups to open the gallery in the town where it would be readily accessible to school pupils and townsfolk.  At one stage, the derelict bacon factory adjacent to the Carnegie library was identified as a possible location.  However, that site was developed as housing and shops in the early seventies.

The Rozelle Estate had passed into council ownership in 1968.  The donor had stipulated that the estate should be used for sport and recreational purposes.  Rozelle House was restored to the layout dating from the 1830 re-modelling and several windows were restored, a tea room was opened and parts of the basement were used as changing rooms for the sports facilities.  A resident caretaker was in place and Ayr Model Railway Club occupied part of the basement.

The time allowed for the realisation of the project was rapidly running out when William Lockhart, one of the curators and art master at Ayr Academy, recommended premises at Rozelle.  Despite opposition from Ayr Sketch Club, who favoured a town centre location, the designs for the conversion were commissioned and the premises were completed for the summer of 1976.

The costs of opening the gallery were shared by the Local Authority and the Trust, the trustees continuing their financial involvement through the provision of exhibitions while the day to day management of the gallery lay with the council and their successors. There is an obligation on the trustees to 'apply the income from the residue of the bequest to the purchase of equipment or exhibits', a stipulation that encouraged the formation of a permanent collection.

The trust is advised by a group of curators who have a knowledge of art and close links with the community.  Further development plans are in place and there is a measure of integration between the Gallery and the facilities in Rozelle House.  An initial development grant of £40,000 has been made available by the Scottish Government through Museums Scotland and ARPL architects have been commissioned to produce designs for the further development of the exhibition facilities.

This information is based on the text written my Mike Bailey for the initial exhibition and the catalogue of the Maclaurin Art Collection published in December 1983.   It has been updated to include developments in 2015.

Mrs Mary E Maclaurin's Trust is a Registered Scottish Charity.   Images on this page provided by Sheriff B. A. Murphy.

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Creative Ayrshire acknowledges the assistance of Mike Bailey and Sheriff B. A. Murphy for the provision of material for this section of the website.

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