The Courier

William Lamb Studio row rumbles on as opening hopes fade

Works of William Lamb

The row over the opening of the William Lamb Studio is rumbling on as hopes fade that the collection will be open to the public this summer.

The studio was a bequest to the people of Montrose and the ownership has since passed to Angus Council but funding for a seasonal guide at the studio has been withdrawn.

Friends chairman Norman Atkinson signs the memory book alongside a self-sculpture of the man himself.

The Friends of the William Lamb group have volunteered to open the studio but require training and say they are not responsible for the fabric of the building or the collection.

Angus Alive says it has offered a number of training dates, as well as ongoing support, but the Friends have hit back saying the training was “conditional” and the keys were “and Angus Alive wanted to wash their hands of it.”

Montrose and District SNP Councillor Bill Duff said: “There are three aspects to this issue.

“The first is the art streetscape, where sculptures by Lamb, often paid by Montrose Common Good fund are on display every day of the year.

“The second is the collection itself, which is valuable and will be looked after, and the third is the studio which, to me, is the least important.

“I don’t think the studio is suitable as a tourist attraction as it is too cramped and there is no parking.

“The fact is that Lamb is not Salvador Dali, Walter Scott or Robert Burns, and we can no longer run a bespoke quirky studio for one artist.

© Supplied
Councillor Bill Duff

“The Friends of William Lamb need to step up to the plate – it is regrettable they have missed a season, and I hope that they can open next year but the ball is in their court and they seem to have left their racquet in the clubhouse.”

Expert, Professor John Morrison of Aberdeen University, said: “It would be a great pity if the studio does not open.

“There seems to be a lack of understanding of the importance of the studio, the collection, and of William Lamb himself, who was a major player. The reality is that art can be an economic driver.

“We have seen how Dundee is investing in the V&A to drive substantial investment in other economic areas, and Aberdeen is doing the same.

“We should not view museums and art galleries as some kind of drain on the public purse, but as an economic contributor.

“This is not the first time we have seen this in Angus.

“It wasn’t so long ago there was a suggestion that two paintings by Brueghel on display in Arbroath should be sold off – a terribly short sighted idea, and breathtakingly ill informed.

“Dundee and Aberdeen are playing to their strengths, and for Montrose, Lamb is one of those strengths, but it takes expertise, and that expertise is available.”