Gordon Scott (1914-2016) was a prolific artist and a popular teacher on the staff of the Camberwell School of Art but until recently his works were rarely seen on the market.
He is generally described by those who knew him, and in the little writing about him, as principled, shy and generally reticent about holding solo shows. It is only since his death last year that his works have become available in any great quantity.
So when a collection of his works turned up in a tin trunk, dealer Adrian Pett of Darnley Fine Art says it was like seeing something “full of lost treasure”. Now all framed and ready to be seen at last, the assortment of around 60 drawings and paintings goes on display at Pett’s Chelsea gallery from November 11.
It follows a solo show, organised with the artist’s estate, in March this year at Abbott and Holder and will be followed by a second exhibition by that gallery in early 2018. Scott’s star, it seems, is on the rise.
The artist’s early training was at Croydon School of Art, followed by the Royal Academy of Art where Scott studied under Gilbert Spencer, Alan Sorrell and Charles Mahoney and won a travelling scholarship for painting in 1938.
Promising beginnings were interrupted by the Second World War. During this time he enrolled as a member of the Non-Combatant Corps and completed a number of portraits of fellow uniformed NCCs who passed through Bulford Camp on Salisbury Plain where he was stationed. These portraits offer a rare record of conscientious objectors.
After the war, Scott started teaching at Camberwell School of Art where accounts agree he was a popular teacher.
Particularly well remembered were his Saturday morning classes which he would take outside to complete architectural drawings of iconic buildings around London – St Pancras Hotel and Temple Church were among the regular subjects. He remained at Camberwell until his retirement in 1980.
He counted both of Pett’s parents among his students and at the last Abbott and Holder show, many former Camberwell alumni are reported to have turned out, looking at the works by their much-loved teacher.
“ It’s the innocence of these works that appeal to me. He’s not trying to commercialise his subjects – these are to do with him and meant a lot to him
Among the group shows he took part in were those held by the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal Society of British Artists, Opix Gallery and the Mall Galleries, though he refused to hold a solo exhibition until after he was 90, when he had a small show in Highgate.
At Darnley Fine Art, the show demonstrates the breadth of Scott’s subjects, from quiet interior scenes to portraits to architectural drawings.
Pett says: “It’s the innocence of these works that appeals to me. He’s not trying to commercialise his subjects. These are to do with him and meant a lot to him.
“They really capture the period in which he lived.”
Another exhibition involving the art of conscientious objectors will be staged next summer at the Otter Gallery in the University of Chichester. Conflicting Views: Pacifist Painters brings together paintings, drawings and cartoons from collections across the UK.
It marks the centenary of the end of the First World War and explores the ways artists who were conscientious objectors and pacifists responded to conflict. Among the artists included are Mark Gertler, who was associated with the Bloomsbury Group, Percy Horton, an absolutist conscientious objector who was imprisoned, and Kenneth Rowntree, who was commissioned to record non-military subjects.
The show is curated by Dr Gill Clarke and will be held with the support of London gallery Piano Nobile.
It runs from June 25-October 7, 2018 and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.