Archibald Peddie

Artist of the 20th Century Scottish School and Art Teacher
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Archibald Peddie was born in Helensburgh on the 15th August 1917, and whilst not as well known as many other Scots born artists he can be said to have made a genuine contribution to the 20th Century Scottish school. His work easily identified through the use of strong colours and bold confident brush strokes.

Despite his family being generally unsupportive of his artistic ambitions and his love of art, Archibald enrolled to study at the prestigious Glasgow School of Art in the mid 1930s. He funded his studies through a combination of producing commissioned pieces for various Scottish venues and, to a greater degree, by working as a salmon fisherman on the River Tay.

Peddie received his Arts Diploma from the School in 1939, with his talents winning him a scholarship to study in Italy but unfortunately the outbreak of World War II in 1939 prevented Peddie from taking up this position.

During the war years Archibald abandoned his painting and served with the Parachute Regiment. In 1943 he married Elizabeth Lowe Bowman (Betty) whilst on leave.

In 1947 Archibald returned to the Glasgow School of Art as a visiting teacher of drawing and painting, before taking the position, one year later, of Art Master at the newly opened Naemoor School in Kinross-shire. Naemoor was a private school which later became Lendrick Muir School in 1962, and is now a residential activity centre.

Whilst Archibald enjoyed teaching, he continued to follow his first love of painting and drawing, working out of a small studio set up in a converted stable at Naemoor.

In the early 1950′s Archibald and his family moved to Rockmount in Yetts ‘o Muckhart where Betty was to care for her sick mother, with Archibald leaving his Naemoor teaching post in 1953.

Although Archibald continued to paint and sketch profusely, the lack of space to use as a studio and limited funds to devote to his art resulted in much of the work he produced in this period being small scale and favouring less costly materials.

After Betty’s mother died the Peddies stayed in Muckhart where they both continued teaching, although to Archibald this was never something he really enjoyed as he believed that it was interfering with his painting.

In the late 1950′s Betty inherited a sum of money from a distant aunt, which she used to fund several summer holidays in Spain. The colours and light experienced in Spain brought a new life to Archibald’s work and this vibrancy can quiet clearly be seen in the majority of pieces produced during the 1960′s.

In 1966 the Peddie family moved to Grayswalls, a converted croft house near Falkirk which would become the final family home.

Here Archibald had the luxury of a spacious studio and began to produce larger works. During the 1970′s he appeared to rediscover Scotland and his roots – he learnt Gaelic, the bagpipes and would wear a kilt at formal occasions. He began to favour large atmospheric Scottish landscapes and seascapes as a subject yet he often retained some of the dramatic use of colour that he had discovered during the summers in Spain.

Throughout the 1980′s he continued his Scottish landscapes as well as views inspired by short trips to Europe. His work began to take on a more delicate structured quality, he enjoyed experimenting with the translucency possible with acrylics and abandoned the expressive heavy textured oil brushwork of the 60′s and 70′s.

Although Archibald Peddie did produce a number of commissioned works, with several works being exhibited, the majority of his paintings and drawings were produced for the artist’s own pleasure, many of which were uncovered in his studio upon his passing.

Archibald Peddie died in 1991, and was survived by his wife, children and grandchildren. On the 26th May, 2008, Archibald’s wife Elizabeth passed away.

An interesting side note to Archibald’s story relates to his relative anonymity in his native country. In 1998, the Glasgow Herald put out an appeal to its readership to see whether they had any information on the Artist. Several of his 1930 paintings were about to be returned to the Duke of Gordon Hotel, Kingussie, having been restored following a fire, and a company wanted to make some reproductions of them and was seeking copyright approval. Hence the plea.

At the time the Herald stated that it was thought Archibald might originally have come from Edinburgh and asked readers ‘that the next time you're in a Scottish hotel check the walls: Peddie seems to have made his living by roaming around getting commissions to do hotel murals.’

The restorers stated that his work was of such a high standard that it compares with famous names like (Glasgow Boy) Hornell. The rich foliage of the backgrounds in the paintings is almost abstract, built up using very confidently layered daubs of paint.

"These paintings are really excellent," said Ken Hardiman, who owns Alder Arts. "Why he's not more widely known, I just don't know"

What became apparent is that Archibald Peddie’s work as a muralist was a case of mistaken identity and that the newspaper was probably referring to Tom Peddie, but his paintings and talent could not be disputed and as a result of the Herald’s publicity – the name Archibald Peddie became a little bit more well known in Scotland.

Images used by permission of the Peddie Family. Further details and the opportunity to buy original artworks can be found at www.archiebaldpeddie.com