Liz Douglas, Artist

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The Scottish Art World lost an original and creative force the death of Selkirk artist Liz Douglas aged 76,  When she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer tributes poured in from friends and fellow artists many of whom have been inspired by Liz's exceptional talents 

The daughter of third generation master joiner James Bruce and his wife Elizabeth nee Abercrombie, who worked as a code breaker at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.  Liz was born in 1945 in the Fyfe-Jamieson Maternity Hospital in Forfar.

Along with her younger siblings Jean and Keith, she was educated at Aberlemno Primary and Brechin High School.  Her talents were nurtured by the art teacher who encouraged her to apply for a place at art school.  Like many of her generation, Liz's aspirations were thwarted by her parents who insisted she get a 'proper job', so she found herself working as a teller at the Royal Bank of Scotland's branch in Brechin 

In 1963, Liz was invited to spend a year living in Canada with Toronto-based cousins.  Delighted to be given the opportunity to experience a totally different culture, the 18-year old took every opportunity to broaden her horizon and take on new ideas.  Back in Scotland she resumed her work in the bank, this time in Edinburgh, before completing a secretarial course at Stevenson's College. This is individuality and unique personal style was beginning to reveal itself.

She took a job as secretary to Scottish publisher Archie Turnbull at Edinburgh University Press so this horizon expands still further.  She has given the opportunity to travel to book fairs in cities such as London and Frankfurt, although there is a box cover design would often illicit more interest than its contents.

She met future her husband, Edinburgh University sociology student James Douglas, after both had signed up for the same local authority art class at Darroch School in 1969.  The couple were married in Aberlemno  Parish Church on 16th August 1971 and in October of that year moved to Uganda where Jim had been awarded a postgraduate scholarship at Makerere University in Kampala

Liz was employed as secretary to Professor Ali Mazrui, the well known Kenyan academic and political writer.  At some risk Liz would smuggle out personal correspondence from the professor to former President Milton Abote, then living in exile in Tanzania

She and Jim delighted in exploring the African countryside and its many game parks, but were forced to return home to Scotland in 1972 following Idi Amin's expulsion of 50,000 Ugandan Asians.

Doubly determined to win a place at Edinburgh College, by 1975 liz had amassed the necessary qualifications to enroll on its honours degree course in drawing and painting. That same year, Liz and Jim left Edinburgh to set up home in Selkirk having decided to town would make an ideal hub from which to travel the world.

Liz studied at Edinburgh College of Art for two years and then took a break to start a family.  The couple were delighted by the arrival of Erica in 1979 and Hannah in 1982. With Jim now a full time primary school teacher in Selkirk Liz became adept at juggling child-rearing with her painting.  Throughout this period she produced enough material not only to display at local exhibitions but to sell through outlets such as the Sunflower Gallery in Peebles.

Returning to Edinburgh College of art in 1990, Liz completed her degree and subsequently secured scholarships allowing her to gain both the Masters of Art and Masters of Fine Art degrees.

Liz Douglas died at Selkirk on the 10th of May 2022.



Sources for this article include:
  • Jim Douglas

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    Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024