Painter and potter

Born: November 11, 1925;

Died: December 9, 2019

FLORENCE Jamieson, who has died aged 94, was a Glasgow painter and potter. If you are old enough to remember when artists would regularly hang their work on the railings of the Botanic Gardens, in the process painting a scene not dis-similar to Parisian riverside walkways of the 1950s and ‘60s, there is a fair chance you may be one of the lucky ones who purchased one of Florence's early works.

Maybe, of course, you added a piece to your collection much later in her career from any number of shows where her work was exhibited, such as the Royal Scottish Academy, Society of Scottish Artists, Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour, and the Glasgow Institute.

Florence first came to prominence after she and her then husband Robert Sinclair Thomson were the first artists to open a commercial studio pottery in Glasgow after the Second World War.

Throughout the ‘50s and early ‘60s they worked from their house in Clouston Street, producing beautiful handmade items decorated in the distinctive freehand slip glaze technique that became their recognised design style, applied to everything from small buttons and jewellery to large pots, bowls and wall plaques. The larger, more flamboyant pieces are these days eagerly sought after by collectors. Smaller pieces such as the little Scottish thistle pots they produced in large numbers for the tourist trade.

Florence was born in Glasgow in 1925 and in 1964 moved to Edinburgh, and raised her daughter, Rebecca, on her own while taking up a parallel career as a senior psychiatric social worker (which she loved) at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

She retired aged 55 and moved to Dunblane where she threw herself back into painting. In 1990, she moved to a big apartment in Glasgow’s St Vincent Crescent, leading to exhibitions at the King Street Gallery, Perth Gallery and Glasgow University.

She later spent many happy years in Millport where she continued to paint until she developed problems with her eyesight, requiring cataracts to be removed, to give her more years at the easel after she moved to Ullapool. Exhibitions at The Ceilidh Place, An Talla Solais and the Rhue Gallery followed.

She had first shown great promise after attending evening classes at Glasgow School of Art and went on to teach still life painting there.

In 2014 she was one of four remaining living artists chosen to provide a selection of her work for the prestigious ‘Glasgow Girls’ Kirkcudbright summer exhibition.

She received the Royal Scottish Academy Award and in 1953 had carried off the James Torrance Memorial Award from the Royal Glasgow Institute.

Her most recent work included watercolours, oils, collages and pastels and many found their way into overseas collections. Only last month, she sold 31 paintings and drawings to the prestigious Gallerie Herold, with premises in both Hamburg and Sylt, Germany. Florence was delighted and exclaimed: "I'm all shook-up!"

Her extensive back catalogue includes mixed media collages, free interpretations and explorations of sea shore, plants and the great outdoors as well as striking abstract floral studies in oils.

Someone who was forever in awe of nature, she drew inspiration from dramatic landscapes or seascapes, and was equally at home working on intricate close-up studies of a pine cone or poppy head. She also completed still life canvasses, boldly approached with a fearless use of bright colour.

She spent her final years in care in the countryside she loved so much, with a spacious room in property that had been a former hunting lodge and private hotel, just outside Inverness, where her bay window provided sweeping views of the mature gardens – and stunning sunsets. She was happy there, and contemplative as ever.

Some of the paintings she was most proud of graced the walls to give visitors a glimpse of the full depth and breadth of her considerable talents.

Those who grew to know and love her great character as much as her art had all met someone who initially appeared on the surface to be a somewhat serious individual. She could express herself in exasperated Victor Meldrew-style when she disapproved.

Each of them would come to appreciate a warm heart and finely-tuned sense of humour, however, and someone who, even in her nineties, could gaze in almost child-like wonder at things around her which others might just take for granted.

Daughter, Rebecca, set up a Facebook page for her mother to keep the outside world fully up to date on all things Florence. Regular newsletters would be issued too, one of which reminded anyone who was intending to pay a visit, that they may find her “in grumpy mood,” adding rightly: “Of course, she is entitled to that!”

Her work is represented in various public collections including Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow, the Glasgow University Hunterian Art Gallery, The Scottish Arts Council Collection, Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries, and the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther.