Nita was admitted to Glasgow School of Art, in 1937, two years before
the impending world war. This proved to be a turning point in Nita’s life where
she began to come out of her shell and to build her social and artistic
confidence. Now was her opportunity to develop, experiment, learn and flourish.
Still somewhat nervous she utilised this energy and threw herself into
this world with little to hold her back.
Prior to the Second World War the fine art course at the School of Art
was a precisely structured five year course. Based on the traditional artistic
skills of draughtsmanship and craft of the applied arts Nita's first year
studies included a taste of the disciplines of drawing, modelling, design,
geometry and perspective, metalwork, ceramics and plant drawing. The principal
of the GSA at this time was William Oliphant Hutchison who was a great
encouragement to his students. Among her tutors were Hugh Adam Crawford RSA,
Henry Y. Alison, Jimmy Barr (modelling), James Huck (anatomy drawing-he left in
1937) W. McLean (who played gramophone records in class,also left around 1937),
Benno Shotz (modelling) and Alex Dick.
Other members of staff at this time and all former GSA students were Ian
Fleming, William Crosbie (former GSA student 1932-35), David Donaldson
(part-time staff from 1938, former GSA student 1931-38), Ancell Stronach
(Professor of Mural Painting) and Jack Coia.
Nita remembers W.O. Hutchison as having a courteous demeanour in
contrast to Henry Y. Alison of whom she was so frightened she sneaked out of
class when it was known he may be approaching. He regarded female students with
Among her first year peers were Catherine Arthur and Alex McCallum
(who later married), Alec Young and Christina McKay (who later married), Marie
Millar, Dorothy Henderson and Ann Adam. This year group was a large complement
before the depletion of the war years. Classes were created using the
alphabetic order, thus; Adam, Arthur, Begg, etc.
Nita became part of a threesome with Christina McKay and Marie
Miller. Christina travelled in by bus from Mosspark and Marie by train from
From whatever direction or method of transport they all climbed the
steep hill up to Renfrew Street and came together in mutual appreciation of the
creative arts. This was still a time of great promise, days of innocence in
sharp contrast to the dark days ahead.
During this academic year the talented 'Roberts', who had digs in
Renfrew Street, were the award-winning final year students. Robert MacBryde was
awarded the 'Director's Prize' while Robert Colquhoun the 'James Guthrie
Prize'. This was to be followed after their graduation by the award of a
travelling scholarship to each. First year students at this time were well
acquainted with the artistic talents of their peers and thus not short of inspiration.
The 'Roberts' at this juncture were each awarded a scholarship to Hospitalfield
House, a post-diploma opportunity to study at the residential summer school
near Arbroath under the indomitable James Cowie. This scholarship was also to
be awarded to Nita after her war service in 1947.
Empire Exhibition open from May 3rd
1938 to October 29th 1938.
The 1920 and 1930’s were times of great expectation in the developments
of industry, commerce and culture. After the first war and the depression of
the 20's and 30's there was great hope for a better future for all. The EmpireExhibition was made possible by powerful Scottish figures with
the help of the British Government who were aware of the decline of the heavy
industries and keen to let the rest of the world be reminded that Glasgow was a
centre for culture and learning and was still the 'Second City of the
The exhibition was built in Bellahouston Park and open to the
public for six months from May till October. 13 million visits were made,
several of them by Nita and her mother who could not stay away. Catherine who
was attending school and Tom working took the opportunity of visiting later in
the day. Nita was fortunate to have the opportunity of visiting with her school
friend Dorothea Hodge. And indeed there was no shortage of entertainment to be
had. Visitors dressed in their best finery to wander among the best products
Scotland and Britain had to offer. Luxury accompanied with modernism was all
around. It was a miniature city of modernist architecture, fantastic boulevards
with enormous water fountains which were lit at night. Nothing on this scale
had been seen before in Scotland.
The design and development of the exhibition provided a great deal of
work for hundreds of people from the architects under the leadership of Thomas
Tait FRIBA, to civil and electrical engineers, builders and construction
workers. Connections between the exhibition and the Glasgow School of Art were
many. Thomas Tait the leading architect had trained in architecture and
decorative art at Paisley Technical College and School of Art and
from there won a scholarship to study at Glasgow School of Art under Bourdon.
Other architects working for Tait and who also spent time studying at the
Glasgow School of Art/Architecture were Francis Lorne, Jack
Coia, Launcelot Hugh Ross, Dr Colin Sinclair, Margaret Brodie, and Richard
Mervyn Noad. The Glasgow School of Art artists, Hugh Adam
Crawford, David Donaldson, Charles Baillie, William Crosbie and William
Gallacher (1st year student) were also employed in designing and painting
mural decorations for various buildings including the Catholic Pavilion
and Concert Hall. This was a fantastic creative opportunity for the Art School
and the exhibition developers.
During the exhibition over 850 people were employed. Entertainment
included a 12 acre amusement park complete with dodgems, mountain railway,
speedway, wall of death, multiple exotic rides and a big wheel. There were
concerts provided by The London Philharmonic Orchestra with Sir
Thomas Beecham and The London Symphony Orchestra with Sir
Henry Wood and Paul Robeson.
The exhibition closed on the 29th October 1938, this last
day being the busiest of all with over 360,000 visitors in one day!
As a foot note the well known Beresford Hotel on Sauchiehall Street
was built and opened in 1938 specifically to host visitors to the Empire
exhibition. This stunning building is representative of modernism at
its height in the centre of Glasgow. A few short years later it became a
favourite meeting place for American Servicemen.
page from Nita's 'historic ornament' sketchbook
2.Autumn 1938- Summer 1939: Final Year of her 2 year General
On September 30th 1938 Chamberlain following through his
policy of appeasement and rearmament signed the 'Munich Pact' and announced he
had secured 'peace for our time'. For a while the Art School continued much as
normal for another year. Everyone hoped for peace but Germany continued to
invade the rest of Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile the British Government prepared
for the worst. The Air Raid Precaution(ARP) service was expanded and armaments
increasingly manufactured in many parts of Scotland. In November 1937 the
British government had decided to build air-raid shelters in all cities, while
in January 1938 it was announced that children were to be fitted with gas
masks. By July 1938 the British government ordered 1,000 Spitfires. By the end
of 1938 the demands for sandbags had become so enormous that it absorbed the
entire output of the Dundee jute manufacturers.
Although a number of students lived in local accommodation of rented
rooms those who could travel home did so. Nita would commute from Renfrew
Street back to North Mount Vernon by tram restricting to some extent
opportunities for socialising. However time was spent socialising with fellow
students in the evening while on Friday evenings there were dances organised in
the students' common room.
With a group of first year friends she also had an excursion to a youth
hostel at Loch Lomond.
Benno Shotz R.S.A. was appointed this year
as head of modelling and sculpture.
At this time her brother Tom having recently left Glasgow High School
for boys was training to become an accountant, while her sister was still
studying at The High School for Girls soon to volunteer for the WAAF (Women's
Auxiliary Air Force ).
Nita left the session early in March 1939 to visit Paris, her report for
this year is incomplete.
This year George Singleton opened his Cosmo
Cinema on Rose Street in May 1939 and was to become a regular
haunt of the art students over the years. The Cosmo was the largest art house
cinema outside London.
Paris April 1939 - July
1939...................Studying in Paris.
During the spring of this session almost having completed her second art
school year, Nita travelled to France accompanied her sister Catherine (known
as Bibs). There were two main aims of her father who sponsored this trip. He
himself having spent time studying art in Europe, both in Paris and Venice
believed Nita could further her knowledge of European painting, along with
French culture and language while Catherine who had developed
fibrositis would benefit from the warmer climate and change of scene. They
resided and studied at St Joseph de Cluny Convent, Senlis, Paris. Much to their
frustration they were chaperoned all the while by an Irish nun from the
convent. Nita felt this restrained them from a more adventurous time in
their exotic surroundings; this keenly felt as they met up with ex-school
friends in the centre of Paris. However, at weekends they resided in a small
private hotel in Paris. Their uncle John Hepburn lived with his French wife
Henriette at 8 Rue de Fantin Latour on the banks of the Seine. They acted as
chaperones at weekends allowing a little more variety in their leisure time.
Both Nita and Catherine missed home and eventually asked to be brought back. If
they had stayed longer than a couple of months they may have settled but unfortunately
their time in Paris was cut short. They were brought back to Scotland due to
the threat of war.
3. 1939 Sept - June 1940 1st year of
the War, 1st year of 3 year Diploma
This year the following school higher certificate holders enrolled for
their three year diploma; Moira Munro (married Stuart Beaty, post war
student) Margot Sandeman (married James Robson,
fellow student) and Joan Eardley. Both Moira and Margot's studies were interrupted
when they left to work at Bletchley Park. Moira was invited by the War
Office to work for them and became a cryptographer directly involved with
breaking the Enigma Code.
War was declared on 3rd September 1939.
Nita's studies and personal life were interrupted by WW2 like most young
people of the time however she was determined to continue her studies at art
This was a time of great disruption within the art school with manifold
problems of logistics. At the time there were so many unknowns, whether there
would be bombing and the financial constraints, apart from the indisputable
fact that so many students and staff would have to leave for war service. After
discussions with the Scottish Education Department the governors believed the
best option was to keep the school open in order to keep the several thousand
enrolled students occupied in a positive way. This was of course on condition
that suitable air raid shelters and other precautions were prepared. The
basement areas were converted into shelters with the assistance of the school
architect who used scaffolding poles found in the art school as reinforcement.
Students were put to work filling sandbags while staff tackled the huge job of
blacking out the massive Mackintosh windows with drapery scavaged from any
available source. There was a drop in numbers attending evening classes due to
the dangers involved with travelling in the blackout but when it became widely
known that the school was to open the daytime numbers increased. Without
the efforts of W.O.Hutchison in his role as director many students would have
lost their one and only opportunity to study at art school. Catherine McCallum
recalls that "as students under pressure of war and all it meant to us,
what we did not know was the tremendous effort Sir William Hutchison made to
keep the school open". With a short delay of a few weeks the Art
School opened for business on 17th October 1939.
In April 1939 the Government had introduced the Military
Training Act. This meant that all men between the ages of 20 and 21 had to
register for six months military training. By October 1939 men aged
between 20 and 23 were required to register to serve in one of the armed
forces. They were allowed to choose between the army, the navy and the air
force. Nita's elder brother Tom was 20 years old by October 1939 and therefore
required to register. Tom who had served in the Senior Division of the Officers
Training Corps (OTC) at Glasgow High School between 1933 and 1936 was called up
in December 1939 for training and spent a few months working on
building defence structures on the east coast.
In October 1939 the British government announced that all men aged
between 18 and 41 who were not working in 'reserved occupations' could be
called to join the armed services if required. As the war continued men from
this age group received their 'call-up' papers requiring them to serve in the
armed forces. This was also the month when the first German plane was shot down
These age ranges meant that not only students but staff were drafted.
Once staff were away they could not be easy replaced. Some returned to teach
for a few days when on leave to keep the students on track as much as possible.
Catherine MacCallum (nee Arthur) recalls 'Ann Adam was a mural student and was
taught between Sir W.O. Hutchison and design staff. All who had different
ideas. It was a miracle they all managed.' The comings and goings of all these
students is almost impossible to track nowadays as each followed their own
individual pathway. Some like Dorothy Henderson, a textile student
(who later had a design selected by Courtaulds) left to join the First Aid
Nursing Yeomanry (Fanys) and returned at a later date to complete her diploma.
Others were called up before finishing. Catherine MacCallum recounts that her
now husband Alex MacCallum, as he was the youngest male student in his year
group had not yet been called up, and 'with only three weeks to finish his
diploma in 1940 he was called up. The school appealed and he was allowed to
finish it and then was immediately removed to the army and then to Egypt and
Palestine for six years'. A small number of the boys had a similar experience
and had to appeal. Alex Young was also called up and became a prisoner of war
For the art school students this period brought familiarity with
rationing and times of hunger along with the general privations of war time.
The overwhelming memory for many students was the freezing temperatures of both
the Macintosh and Henderson buildings. Any heat source available was engulfed
by shivering students. However this was all countered by a sense of joie de
vivre and many a happy time was spent socialising with each other.
As in line with war arrangements across the city the Art School was to
some extent appropriated for the war effort. In September 1939 the
Governors granted use of part of the Mackintosh building to the British Red
Cross Society. This they use as a hospital supply depot and stores. William
Gallacher, a student at the time, recalled the processing of sphagnum moss for
use in bandages. Sphagnum moss has been used for centuries as a dressing for
wounds, including during both World Wars, since its properties mean it can
absorb twenty times its dry weight in blood and also has antiseptic qualities.
Through the first year of the war the demand for supplies became so great that
the school were requested and granted more rooms to include the basement as
well as the ground floor, in fact two thirds or more of the space in the
Mackintosh building. This caused a lot of pressure on the students'
accomodation with the result that the students carried out the bulk of their
work in the Henderson building as well as the assembly hall which was used by
the Design School. An extremely tight war budget meant that many activities had
to be curtailed; a number of art classes taught by visiting lecturers had to be
cancelled; the usual series of exhibitions were not held; lectures by visiting
experts were cut to one by Eric Newton (the previous year visiting lecturers
had been Ashley Dukes, Dr Nikolaus Pevsner and H.G. Murphy R.D.I.) ; along with
cutbacks in materials and minimal spending on the fabric of the buildings
A contribution to the war effort using their skills was to decorate
working men's and boys clubs. This was arranged through a great supporter of
the Art School, the Lord Provost Sir Patrick Dollan. There were five of these this
year; 43 Doncaster Street and Plantation Club by William Crosbie; Cathcart
Boy's Club by David Donaldson; the Y.M.C.A by Isobel Brodie; and The Boy
Scouts' Club, Gorbals by John Miller. Four of these had opening ceremonies were
the Lord Provost gave a speech. In addition the School designed eight different
posters for the Salvage Collection Scheme .
A little later in April 1940 the Royal Airforce was also granted part of The
Henderson Building, now demolished, for their use.
4. 1940 September -June 1941: 2nd Year
of the 3 year Diploma Course
The Art School reopened for studies on 24th September
1940. This year but proved to be a challenging time.
By early September 1940 The Battle of Britain which had been
played out in the skies was over and the Blitz of British cities
began. In December came the massive bombing of London. As a result of
this bombing, in the early months of 1941, a firewatching scheme was set up and
managed by Henry Y. Alison. The perfect observation area was the ‘hen run’ at
the highest point of the Macintosh building. Firewatch duty was voluntary at
first and taken up by the majority of male students and staff. As time
progressed Nita along with other girls took up this essential work. It was a
duty she detested, bored, cold and frightened all at the same time, she
couldn’t wait until each watch was over. Some students lay down on coats
on the lavatory floor to rest although camp beds were eventually set up. It
was, to be fair, mainly voluntary, rota-ed and with a little pay (3/6d for a
couple of nights) which paid for food and drink. As the war progressed so did
the facilities for firewatch, eventually there were dormitories of camp beds
with the boys in the Henderson building and the girls in the Mackintosh
In Scotland the bombing started on March 13th and
14th 1941. The town of Clydebank and City of Glasgow were
attacked from the skies. The Clydebank bombing raid was the most devastating
suffered in Scotland in one town. In two nights of bombing 1200 people died,
more than 500 in Clydebank and over 600 in Glasgow. Out of a stock of 12,000
houses in Clydebank only 7 houses were left intact. A month before the bombing
a survey showed that only 30% of the population of Clydebank thought heavy air
raids were likely. This made the bombing all the more of a shock. In Glasgow
some bombs were strays but others were aimed at riverside quays such as Princes
Dock and Queens Dock, and also Harland and Wolf and Alexander Stephen and Sons
shipyards (where Nita's aunt worked as a tracer) and the Rolls Royce aircraft
engine factories. Stray bombs fell in many areas on these nights; 110 were
killed in Nelson Street just South of the Clyde, tenements were destroyed in
Maryhill in Kilmun Street killing 83, 80 were killed at Yarrow's shipyard, 50
were killed in Peel Street in Partick, 66 were killed in Scotstoun while in
Knightswood 39 were killed. In Hyndland 36 were killed when a landmine was
dropped on Dudley Drive. Many more were seriously injured in these attacks. In
all 647 men, women and children were killed on these two nights in Glasgow
It was these bombings which now justified the fear which the students
had before the start of the phoney war. War was real and horrifying. Many
students lived in fear of further bombing. Catherine MacCallum lived with her
parents in Airlie Street the closest street to Dudley Drive where 36 people
were killed. To this day she is often drawn back to these days in the early
hours when the flight to Glasgow Airport passes across the skies of Hyndland.
Nita recounts the morning after the bombing, sitting in art class the lecturer
with head bowed. One of the male students lived in Clydebank, as the door
opened he appeared as normal much to the relief and delight of his teacher and
One member of the Art School community who was closer to the devastation
on these nights than most was the lecturer Ian Fleming. When hostilities started in 1939
Fleming served as a reserve policeman in Glasgow and recorded his experience of
the Glasgow Blitz in a series of prints. In 1941, he joined up as a 2nd
Lieutenant in the Pioneer Corps. By this time he had already painted his
well-known portrait of the two Roberts. After the war he returned to Glasgow
and resumed his position at the School of Art. In 1948 he left to succeed James
Cowie as Warden of the Patrick Allan-Fraser College of Art at Hospitalfield.
It provided another opportunity for socialising as eventually these
nights would become social opportunities with students eating, drinking and
discussing art and politics- a popular subject of the times. Exotic visitors
would be invited across from the Glasgow Art Club by Hugh Adam Crawford, the head of drawing and
painting, to meet with the students and alleviate any boredom. On one occasion
Duncan Grant, a member of the Bloomsbury circle appeared. On a regular basis
local personalities Macaulay Stevenson (one of the Glasgow
Boys), Tom Honeyman (director of Glasgow Museums
and Art Galleries), George Singleton (otherwise known as Mr
Cosmo, owner of the Cosmo cinema) and Henry Mavor (aka James Bridie, playright and
founder of the Citizens theatre in 1943) spent time with the students and some
volunteered as panel experts for 'Question Time' style quizzes.
This year social events organised by the students included a Christmas
dance in aid of the Red Cross who had been occupying a good part of the
Some of the staff and students utilised their creative skills outwith
the school in order to improve the surrounding environments of war workers and
the Forces. As in the previous year staff and students decorated canteens and
other centres , for example, Hugh Crawford decorated the Central Fund offices
of the Lord Provost Dollan of Glasgow, while lecturer David Donaldson assisted
W.O. Hutchison design and paint a large wall-panel of 'The Battle of Camperdown' in one of the
Naval canteens in Rosyth.
The worst possible news arrived for Nita just at the end of the summer
term. In July a telegram was delivered to 'The Elms', Mount Vernon. In February
1941 Tom had been transferred by ship to serve with the Norfolk Yeomanry in the
Middle east, three months later on 16th June 1941 he was
killed. Tom who had become a gunner with 53rd Anti-Tank
Regiment Royal Artillery had been killed in action in Egypt at Torbruk. On June
15th a 3-day operation 'Battleaxe' was launched finishing on
the 17th. Nita was now exposed to the tragedy of her beloved
Also this school year,
In September 1940, 83 evacuated children sailing for Canada were killed
in the bombing of the SS City of Benares.
5. 1941 Sept - June 1942. Nita's final
year of her 3 year Diploma.
By December 1941 conscription began for women. Britain was the only
country on either side, ally or foe to conscript women. Single women age 20-30
were conscripted into factories, farming or any occupation that would help the
war effort. Women did not take part in the fighting but were required to take
up work in these reserved occupations - especially factories and farming - to
enable men to be drafted into the services. These young students also had
to think carefully about their own next steps to protect their ability to
continue their studies or if not to return to study after war service.
Mercifully those who were planning to teach after graduating were exempt from
war service. Some like Catherine Arthur graduated with her diploma in
summer 1941 before conscription began and commenced teacher training becoming a
teacher in 1942. However Catherine like Nita and her peers worried
enormously about family away at war, those called-up and those yet to go.
Catherine's father was a master mariner and merchant navy officer. He was
'torpedoed and shell shot in the first world war, mercifully a survivor, and
again in the second, again a survivor, as you can imagine life was very
hazardous for a seafaring family with a father and four uncles all involved in
hazardous convoys'. Tragically her uncle was killed when his ship was torpedoed
while on duty at Loch Long.
This initially was due to be Nita's final diploma year but it was her
time to decide upon her future.
In November 1941 she was 21 and due to be called up for war service in
the school year. Unlike many of her peers teaching was not an option on
graduating as she had not stayed on at school to achieve her Higher Leaving
Certificate. This meant she was not adequately qualified to undertake teacher
training. She decided to delay her final year and entered an unfamiliar world,
a munitions factory in Shettleston. The job allocated to her was as in
administration mostly requiring the seemingly straightforward task of answering
the phone, taking down messages, orders, instructions and so on. Unfortunately
and to her mortification she failed miserably as she could not understand a
word spoken in broad accents. This was exacerbated by the massive background
noise of the machinery which she found hard to bear. She lasted little more
than a week and left before she set the war effort back. Luckily a position was
found for her in her Uncle Tom's property office where more allowance was made
for any attributes which she had available.
Nita and friends met up with students from Glasgow University visiting
the International Students Club where she developed a close friendship with an
Afganistan army officer. Nita eventually brought him back home to visit asking
permission for their engagement. Although her father seemed amenable at the
time secretly he strongly disapproved and Nita believes used his influence as a
magistrate to end the relationship with the young officer being sent back home.
It in September and October 1941 that along with other art schools
across Britain a large map was designed and constructed by staff and students
for use by the Air Ministry. This was to be used by plots for simulated flight
exercises. The talents of the art school community were also put to use in
designing camouflage for the Home Guard and giving lectures to over 500 Home
Guard officers in its use.
A noticeable decrease in male student numbers throughout this year and
the following year was due to being called up, many being called up before
Christmas. This was also apparent in the second year cohort who did not get a
chance to finish their general course before call up. A few students only a
couple of weeks from completing their studies managed to get an extension with
the help of an appeal from the director. This was highlighted by the director
who had already anticipated that after the war these young men would return in
the hope of completing their training. He was already thinking of making the
Nita was behind with her studies. Although she had studied for some of
this year it was decided between her and her tutors that she be given the
opportunity to complete a further year of study. Thus 1943 became her year of
Also this art school year,
Dec 7th 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbour and Americans
entered the war becoming a World War.
March 1942 Britain suffered the worst shipping losses of the war so far.
June 'utility wear' is launched to produce economical but smart
6. 1942 September -1943 June:
Nita's Final Final Diploma year at GSA
This year was a return, in a small way, to normality for Nita. It was to
be her last year at art school, her diploma graduation year which would require
great commitment and hard work no matter what was going on around her. The war
was still very much at the forefront of everyones lives. At this time her
school friend Dorothea was touring England with the Anglo Polish Ballet and she
recounts “narrowly escaping the bombs in Bath where the audience was so
grateful they covered the stage in bouquets of flowers. Hitler was bombing the
cathedral cities, many of which we visited, such as Norwich”.
This year at total of 464 students registered at the school between the
day classes and evening classes. During the year a third of these joined the
Forces or took up war work such as the Land army or A.R.P. Ten were reported
dead on active service and two reported missing. Throughout the war the
remaining students supported their active comrades by way of a war comforts
fund which had been set up in 1939. The students raised money for the fund on
their own initiative making up 346 parcels this year to send to those staff and
students on active service and war work.
Nita had progressed steadily and training in at least fifteen of
twenty-two disciplines while at art school she had finally reached the stage of
graduation. Due to the restrictions of war any celebrations were very low key
and as in the previous war years the ceremony was not open to the public. Along
with her fellow peers the ceremony was held on in June 1943 in the Mackintosh
lecture room, sitting tightly packed on tiers of seating, each graduate taking
in the moment and not one of them having any possibility of knowing what the
future may hold. Along with them would leave the director W.O.Hutchison. The
previous session he had informed the Governors that he wished to leave, not to
retire but to pursue his desire to spend his time painting. No doubt he felt he
had done everything he could to steer the School through these difficult times
and perhaps was inspired by the quality of work which these young war time art
students were producing. In his Director's report of 1943 written sometime
after leaving he gave a sense of growing optimism for the outcome and end to
the war hand in hand with a revival in interest in the arts and “all things of
the spirit”. At a large gathering of those both employed and associated with
the art school a presentation of a cheque was made to Mr Hutchison with which
he generously and wisely set up a fund in order to purchase a drawing selected
annually from a diploma graduate. Thus forming a collection for the school over
time. This to be awarded as 'The W.O. Hutchison Prize'.
The assessor for the diploma in painting this year was Professor
Randolph Schwabe, a friend of Charles Rennie Macintosh and Principal of The
Slade School of Fine Art school in London. Schwabe had undertaken the position
as examiner for the Board of Education for a number of years and was highly
regarded. Prof. Schwabe commended the work generally.
During this diploma year there was no shortage of influences on the
students with a number of lectures and exhibitions based in and around the art
school. An exhibition of Yugo-Slav embroidery and textiles, opened by General
Radovitch was said by W.O. Hutchison to be both “interesting and stimulating”
while several lectures were delivered including one by Sir Kenneth Clark
(Director of the National Gallery) on drawing, another by Professor Vogel from
Czechoslovakia on Baroque art, both said to have '”added materially to the
instruction received by the students during the year”. Other influences in the
area included 'The Centre', also referred to as the 'Refugee Centre' at 7 Scott
Street where Polish refugees and artists Josef Hermann (a young 29 year old)
and Jankel Adler spent time between 1940 and 1943. Adler was to influence
the Two Roberts and when he moved to London he rented a studio immediately
above theirs at No. 77 Bedford Gardens one year following the Roberts arrival.
The New Glasgow Club, formed in 1940 by J.D. Fergusson and his wife and
situated in 229 West Regent Street and in 1942 founded the New Scottish Group.
These young students had now reached the end of a long road but had
little time to rest as the country remained in the throes of war. Choices for
all were very restricted; teacher training, war work or the forces.
Diploma graduates were scarce this year, only eleven in drawing and
painting, the low numbers due to war call-ups and so on; John Aitken,
Agnes B. Begg (aka Nita Begg), Fred E. L. Day, Joan K. H. Eardley, Ethna F. Low, Helen G.
McNairn, Jean R. Moore, Betty S. Murray, Allison J. S. Robertson, Eugenio F. Carlo Rossi, Dorothy G. Ward.
Note.There may be 'year group lists' which have omitted an expected name
as they were called up but received their diploma at a later date.
For other subject awards this year including architecture see 'The
Scotsman' digital archive Thursday 22nd July 1943, page 3.
During the 1942 to 43 session the Royal Airforce vacated the rooms
allocated to them in 1940.
Also this art school year,
October 1942 General Montgomery launches an offensive against Rommel at
El Alamein and in November 1942 Church bells are rung all over Britain to
celebrate British victory at El Alamein.
January 1943 RAF carried out daylight bombing of Berlin.
March 1943 the last raid on Glasgow was on the night of 23 March 1943
when the main casualty was Alexander 'Greek' Thomson's Queen's Park Church which
was completely destroyed.
May 1943 German U-boats withdraw from the North Atlantic and German
forces routed in North Africa.
Empire Exhibition open from May 3rd 1938 to October 29th 1938.
page from Nita's 'historic ornament' sketchbook 1937/38
These age ranges meant that not only students but staff were drafted. Once staff were away they could not be easy replaced. Some returned to teach for a few days when on leave to keep the students on track as much as possible. Catherine MacCallum (nee Arthur) recalls 'Ann Adam was a mural student and was taught between Sir W.O. Hutchison and design staff. All who had different ideas. It was a miracle they all managed.' The comings and goings of all these students is almost impossible to track nowadays as each followed their own individual pathway. Some like Dorothy Henderson, a textile student (who later had a design selected by Courtaulds) left to join the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (Fanys) and returned at a later date to complete her diploma. Others were called up before finishing. Catherine MacCallum recounts that her now husband Alex MacCallum, as he was the youngest male student in his year group had not yet been called up, and 'with only three weeks to finish his diploma in 1940 he was called up. The school appealed and he was allowed to finish it and then was immediately removed to the army and then to Egypt and Palestine for six years'. A small number of the boys had a similar experience and had to appeal. Alex Young was also called up and became a prisoner of war in Japan.