Archie Sutter Watt RSW‚ one of Dumfries and Galloway’s best-loved artists‚ died aged 90 in April 2005. Known to many for his Galloway landscapes and still-life paintings‚ he lived and worked at his studio in Kirkgunzeon near Dalbeattie for over 55 years. He was a distinguished and charming character whose loss will be sadly felt by his family and his many friends‚ teaching colleagues and past pupils.
After service in the Second World War and then studies at the Glasgow and Edinburgh School of Art‚ Archie came to Dumfries and Galloway to take up a teaching post in schools‚ thinking it would be a pleasant short stay for himself and his wife Morag. He often remarked that he had never intended to remain in Galloway but somehow the place just “got into his blood” and the couple found themselves happy to make it their home.
A stalwart of the local community he was instrumental in establishing the Annual Arts Festival and Stewartry Art Society and despite his heavy teaching workload‚ he continued to create his own work‚ exhibiting both locally and around the country. He was made full member of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour RSW in 1966‚ an achievement he was rightly proud of.
At a time in his life when many would have retired‚ Archie’s dedication to his art was unwavering‚ and his drive to try new challenges and undertake new exhibitions was undaunted by his failing health. He was delighted to be asked to stage a major retrospective at Gracefield Art Centre in Dumfries to mark his 85th year‚ an event which saw over 130 items loaned from private collections from around the country and the publication of a catalogue to celebrate his life and work. He continued to stage his annual Studio Festival exhibition at Kirkgunzeon until 2003.
In 2004 he acquired a new printing press to replace his converted mangle‚ which he had used for years to edition his drypoint prints‚ but he was keen to see the difference a ‘real’ engineered press and the latest non-toxic techniques would make to his printmaking. In early 2005 he was still working on a series of new graphic works and these were printed from Archie’s plates by his friend and printmaker‚ Hugh Bryden and shown‚ as Archie had planned‚ as part of the 2005 Arts Festival. Each is printed in a limited edition of five‚ with water-based ink from melanex® drypoint plates onto Hanemüller Paper and the prints were a huge hit among fans of his work and those coming across him for the first time. This exhibition was followed in September by a sell-out show at the Whitehouse Gallery in Kirkcudbright.
Archie Sutter Watt’s good humour‚ pedagogical nature and wry wit was unique and will be sorely missed by all those who had the pleasure and privilege to know him.