Ropewalk Gallery 2022

Of Men and Work

Sat, March 19, 2022 - Sun, May 29, 2022

Michael Scott (1946-2006)  grew up in the Hessle Road area of Hull after the family moved there from Peterhead when he was ten. His father worked for over 20 years as a labourer in Broady’s, a pipework and ship repairers based at the Fish Dock. Michael spent his holidays as a university student working alongside his dad there. The paintings in this exhibition are particularly interesting as they show how the camaraderie and dignity of the workers affected him deeply when he turned to painting many years later. 

The paintings shown here at the Ropewalk were largely painted in the 1970s and 80s and reflect the motifs of social critique, symbolism and thoughts on the human condition that characterize all his work. So whilst Michael’s work ranges from an early and ongoing fascination with the Cubist endeavour and later work that highlights human folly and foolishness as well tragedy alongside the potential for human enlightenment, redemption and rest the figurative work here marries an exploration of classical themes with an examination of the human condition. Painting for Scott reflected a powerful desire to say something about the world. 

Scott was, as one critic comments, ‘an artist with an insatiable appetite for experimentation and a profound willingness to learn’. Although he combined a high degree of independence as a natural auto-didact he acquired the fundamental craft of painting and drawing in fifteen years at the Glasgow School of Art evening school between 1975 and 1990 – following in the footsteps of an earlier part time student there – Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Unique in Scott’s case, though, was a parallel development of intellectual interests that drove his work as an academic social scientist. He lectured in Sociology of Culture and Philosophy at Glasgow Caledonian University from 1972 until 1996 and was described as ‘a gifted lecturer, a generous tutor and an enthusiast for knowledge, tempered with his personal example as a humane and humanist advocate of tolerance, and powerhouse of positive energy.’

In 1978, Michael first exhibited his work at the Royal Glasgow Institute and would continue to show at their annual exhibition until 1992, receiving the prestigious David Cargill Sr award in 1989. During the 1980s and 1990s, his paintings were frequently accepted for exhibition in the summer shows at the Royal Academy, in London, and at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. In 1990, he was elected a professional member of the Society of Artists and Artist Craftsmen. Throughout the last two decades of his life, he would hold annual shows of his work at the Portland Gallery, in London, at Roger Billcliffe Fine Art, in Glasgow, and at The Contemporary Fine Art Gallery, in Eton. His paintings are now held in private collections throughout the world, in public collections including Ferens Gallery in Hull and he is represented in the Fleming Collection of Scottish Art in London.