New exhibit raises profile of Montrose's ‘Gentle Shetlander'

A new permanent display of work by outsider artist Adam Christie will be unveiled this week at Montrose Museum.

Mark Dowie
Monday, 18th September 2023, 3:00pm
New exhibit raises profile of Montrose's ‘Gentle Shetlander'

It was made possible by the quick actions of Montrose Burns Club and local man Dave Ramsay, who raised the funding needed to buy some of the work of Adam Christie which appeared unexpectedly for sale earlier this year.

In April, 22 pieces of Christie’s work were to be auctioned at Taylor’s Auctions in the town, but challenges in ANGUSalive’s budget meant that raising the necessary funds to purchase them was difficult.

The Burns Club and Mr Ramsay, its heritage adviser, raised £6000 which secured 11 pieces of the collection, which are now on long-term loan to the leisure charity and will be rotated as part of a permanent display at the museum.

Christie’s work was largely unknown in his own time, and it has only been since Ken Keddie’s 1984 publication - ‘The Gentle Shetlander’ - that awareness of his work has grown.

Christie was transported from his home in Shetland to Montrose Asylum, later Sunnyside Royal Hospital, in 1901, after struggling with severe mental health issues. He remained at the hospital until his death in 1950.

Highly creative, he was encouraged in his painting and stone carving. He had a keen interest in the creation of carved figures, using simple tools such as a nail and a piece of glass, many of which were inspired by Biblical characters, Celtic art and the folklore of Shetland.

Emma Gilliland, museums & galleries collections lead, said: “When struck by mental illness, Adam’s life was forever altered. Yet this set him on a path that allowed him to fully discover his creative abilities in an environment where he was actively supported. We hope that others will be inspired by his story.”

Mr Ramsay said: ‘We’re very proud of the efforts made by the club to get hold of this distinctive collection of sculptures by Adam Christie.

"His work is unique and we’re pleased to make an important contribution to local and national heritage by celebrating this ‘Outsider Artist’."

The museum's exhibit will be open to the public from Saturday.

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