ART OF RANDOLPH GALLOWAY
by Marshall Anderson
Anderson was a mixed media artist, freelance journalist
and curator. For the majority of his working time
he lived outside, travelling extensively throughout
Scotland. His journalism appeared in various UK-based
magazines. His curatorial work included SOLOISTS:
Outsider Art in Scotland, commissioned by art.tm,
The artistic achievement of scrap dealer Scottie
Wilson who grew up in Glasgow's Gorbals is remarkable,
for not only did he discover his ability late in
life but his art was collected by Jean Dubuffet,
Picasso, and museums internationally. Wilson too
is acknowledged as one of the masters of Art Brut2.
Despite his status within this genre and the fact
that his art is in every significant collection
of Art Brut, and that Art Brut influenced so many
of the 2OthC masters, you will not find a reference
to Scottie Wilson in Duncan MacMillan's "Scottish
Art 1460 to 1990". This error is not corrected
in MacMillan's subsequent book,"Scottish Art
in the 20th Century", despite the fact that
Wilson's art is in the collection of The Scottish
National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. Nor
was Scottie Wilson included in the much acclaimed
"Into The New Age: Scottish Art 1945 to 1962"
curated for Aberdeen City Art Gallery by lain Gale,
former art critic for Scotland On Sunday. When asked
about this obvious oversight Gale said that Scottie
was supposed to have been included but was somehow
overlooked in the final selection. What happens
within so-called academic rigour that perpetuates
such oversights? MacMillan's books and Gale's inexcusable
lack of curatorial responsibility support an academic
process that is blinkered and reeking of cultural
are many similarities between the art of Scottie
Wilson and that of Randolf Galloway. Like Wilson,
Galloway discovered his creativity late in life,
and like Wilson, Galloway denies perspective, invents
his own decorative visual language and works outside
of academic tradition. And like Wilson, Galloway
deserves to be included in Scotland's public art
Randolf Galloway was born in London in 1928 into
a landowning family with extensive estates in Galloway.
His interest in art can be traced back to primary
school in Dunbar but by the time he was sent to
Harrow on the Hill public school at the age of fourteen
this interest had diminished. Geography became his
favourite subject. Randolf was a hyperactive and
troublesome child and as a consequence his parents,
in accordance with the medical practice of the time,
agreed to a lobotomy. Randolf was seventeen at the
time of this operation and was thereafter destined
to a life of institutionalisation. After being diagnosed
as schizophrenic he spent much of the 1950s and
'60s in the Crichton Royal Mental Hospital in Dumfries.
In 1975 at the age of forty-seven Randolf married
but now lives separately from his wife. As a result
of a mental breakdown in 1982 he was sent to Lothlorien,
a large country house refuge where residents were
encouraged to help tend the grounds and gardens.
Randolf cultivated flowers and vegetables and rediscovered
his interest in drawing and painting. The art of
Randolf Galloway begins at Lothlorien. It is difficult
to impose a chronological order on Randolf's prodigious
output. None of his paintings are dated although
they are carefully titled with the language of a
cartographer. The ageing process of paper and colours
provides the only clue as to when each piece was
made. Some works have been varnished in an attempt
to protect the impermanence of unstable felt-tip
marker-pen colours and biro ink. Like any naive
Art Brut artist, Randolf has little concern or knowledge
of archival permanence and his use of materials
reflects this. A lack of money to spend on more
professional quality materials further exaggerates
this built-in flaw. This characteristic being one
of the factors that differentiates Art Brut from
the art of professional, established artists.
Randolf Galloway's art-making is a process of recollection
and personal mapping. His love of geography as a
subject at school is highlighted through the descriptive
landscapes of his youth and adulthood. These are
diagrammatic, two-dimensional and not to any logical
scale. They are, in reality, close to the nature
of memory and the way our brains distort through
a process of subjective exaggeration and abstraction.
Galloway offers us an accurate picture of, or insight
into, his memory of places visited and experienced.
His lack of academic devices such as perspective
enhances the purity of his vision and his lack of
anatomical accuracy when depicting animals goes
a long way to revealling their absolute truth. They
are simultaneously fierce, funny and friendly with
that disturbing ambiguity which is, more often than
not, true to life. For it is not until one has accustomed
oneself with an animal that its character can be
The crudity of Galloway's drawing and painting technique
locate his art within the visual language of the
2OthC. Such visceral mark-making techniques were
common usage among surrealists and abstract expressionists
who established a style that continues to be employed
by many artists from David Hockney to Jean-Michel
Basquiat and Joan Eardley to Lys Hansen. A free,
gestural calligraphy in harmony with loose, informal
drawing signals a liberal attitude and tolerance
within a society whose sophistication and intellect
can embrace such freedoms within human expression.
For many artists the use of this style is an affectation;
a mannered form of visual language resulting from
conscious thought and a need to make their art contemporary.
For Galloway there is no decision, no affectation.
This is the only way that he can express himself.
His art then is a pure form of visual language that
underpins any subsequent development that might
manifest itself in trained artists' works.
Unconscious too is the use of playfulness in Randolf
Galloway's pictures. Multicoloured animals, toylike
vehicles, and reinvented perspectives combine to
bring about humorous narratives which entertain,
while challenging our perceptions of what art should
be. If art is the product of a person's creative
expression then everyone's art has a place within
our culture and our understanding of the human condition.
Art then cannot be the preserve of a minority group
of trained specialists who operate within a coded
language for those who are intellectually educated
to receive it.
Sometimes Galloway's humour is a foil for something
more sinister. There is a darker side to these depictions
of places visited, remembered and considered. Often
beasts have a duality being comic and terrifying.
Their terror coming from a deeper psychosis as though
denizens of nightmares and not simply reinvented
When Randolf revisits factories and industrial sites
his palette alters accordingly to employ a more
monochromatic range of blacks, browns and greys
evocative, perhaps, of unhappier recollections.
Factory chimneys curving upwards produce a satanic
effect that countermands humorous incidentals.
Randolf's family were habitual picnickers and this
passion for being outdoors persists. Randolf is
a recognisable feature in his local landscape as
he bicycles and walks in all seasons visiting friends,
art galleries and such favourite haunts as Lothlorien
often wearing his kilt of Stewart tartan. According
to his step-son, Randolf has a photographic recall
for dates remembering precisely what occurred and
what the weather was like on specific days. His
approach to rationalising that experience is little
different from that of any artist who engages with
their environment. Galloway's art could hang beside
that of William Gillies, the two complementing one
another and coexisting without conflict.
The art of any individual is a measure of how they
cope intellectually and creatively with their environment
and life. To regard the art of a trained artist
as being more sophisticated or more culturally acceptable
than that of the naive self-taught artist is to
miss the whole point of reaching an understanding
of society through art. Both types of artist should
be held in the same regard.
1 Jean Dubuffet (1901 - 1963): A French artist who
rejected traditional techniques and waged war on
bourgeois culture. He was influenced by the paintings
of children, psychotics and amateurs.
2 Art Brut (Raw Art): A term invented by Dubuffet
and defined as being, "characterised by spontaneity
and a pronounced inventiveness, owing as little
as possible to conventional art and cultured clichιs,
and created by anonymous people outside professional
artistic circles." Dubuffet's Collection L'Art
Brut is housed in Lausanne, Switzerland.
3 By contrast, in this context, it is worth acknowledging
Julian Spalding's innovative and controversial purchasing
policy for the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow.
His was a brave attempt to create a truly inclusive
collection, bringing together art by Outsiders and
establishment figures. He was much maligned for
his stance, but his approach was forward thinking
and an example worth following.
"it's all writ out for you. The life and work
of Scottie Wilson" by George Melly. Thames
& Hudson 1986
"Outsider Art" by Roger Cardinal. Studio
"Art Brut" by Michel Thιvoz. Booking International
1995. "Outsider Art" by Jean-Louis Ferrier.
Terrail Editions 1997.