The people who helped shape Edinburgh Libraries: Thomas Ross

Thomas Ross was born in Perthshire in 1839, the son of a tenant farmer. He  moved to Glasgow in 1885 to become an apprentice architect. In 1862, Thomas Ross was employed as an assistant to architect David MacGibbon, and in 1872 they went into partnership. As well as working on their architectural commissions, MacGibbon and Ross undertook an ambitious project travelling across Scotland, mainly by train or bike, sketching and gathering information about the country’s architectural heritage.

This resulted in the five volume work “Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland” (1887- 92) and the three volumes of “The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland” (1896-97).  Both series remain key texts for Scottish architecture (and can be found in our Art Library collections).

Torphichen Church

Ross’s influence increased when he became a founder member of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCHAMS) in 1908. He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Edinburgh University in 1910.

Alfred MacGibbon (David’s son), fell ill in 1914 and dissolved the partnership. Ross continued to undertake small jobs that interested him from his home in Saxe-Coburg Place. His main occupation continued to be Commission business and it was while studying Rossend Castle, Inverkeithing that he fell foul of wartime restrictions when he was arrested and later fined 5 shillings for “sketching in a prohibited area”.

Ross continued to work as an architect until 1916 making surveys and sketches of old buildings. In 1918, Ross became Professor of Antiquities at the Royal Edinburgh Academy. He died in 1930 aged 91.

After his death, his son James MacLaren Ross destroyed most of the practice papers but those relating to the books and to Commission business were given to the National Library.  Drawings and paintings relating to Edinburgh, Scotland and England were given to Edinburgh Central Library. St Mary's Church, Haddington

Our latest Capital Collections exhibition brings together some of these unique watercolour paintings Ross completed on his various travels around Scotland and England and focus on landmark domestic and ecclesiastical buildings, many of which appear in his classic architectural texts.

 

Read previous posts in this series about the principal donors who helped shape Edinburgh Libraries here:

Henry Dyer: engineer, educationist and Japanophile

Robert Butchart: City Librarian and Old Edinburgh enthusiast

Charles Boog Watson: antiquarian and ARP warden

William McEwan: brewer and philanthropist

David Mather Masson: scholar and biographer

Colin Povey Exhibition in Fine Art Library

This month’s exhibition in Fine Art is a collection of paintings by West Lothian artist Colin Povey. Colin describes his work as the evolution of a personal visual language.

“My paintings are informed by a wide range of artists, encompassing influences as far apart as 18th Century English landscape and portrait painter, Thomas Gainsborough, and neo-expressionist Cecily Brown.

I do not follow any strict rules when I paint but feel my way until I find the right balance, harmony and poetry in the paint. My paintbrush searches and explores the world that it is experiencing, discovering its rhythms and producing a dynamic, coherent surface of paint. I strive for a lyrical flow, that carries calm, considered brushstrokes alongside active, spontaneous passages of paint.”

The exhibition runs in the Fine Art Library, George IV Bridge until 30th April.


My Perfect Place

My Perfect Place

Children in Scotland have just announced My Perfect Place, a national art competition for children and young people aged up to 18.

Through drawing, painting, collage or photography, participants are encouraged to express their ideas and inform international architects, planners, policymakers and designers about what makes the perfect place and why they like to spend time there.

The competition runs alongside Making Space 2010, a conference focusing on the importance of creating innovative and inspiring environments in which children and young people can live and learn.

The competition deadline is 12 July 2010.  For further information and details on submitting an entry please see

http://www.childreninscotland.org.uk/html/ArtCompetition.htm