New book to focus on life of artist

Author John Stansfeld with Lamb's sculpture Paresseux.'Contributed photograph

Author John Stansfeld with Lamb's sculpture Paresseux.'Contributed photograph

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A NEW book about the life and work of Montrose artists and sculptor William Lamb will be published later this year.

Written by retired businessman John Stansfeld and sponsored by The Montrose Heritage Trust and The Friends of William Lamb, the book will be the first to be written about Lamb, who is now regarded as arguably one of the most important Scottish sculptors of the 20th century.

Although his work is only now being more widely appreciated, Lamb himself died in 1951 in relative obscurity and left his later works and studio in the town to the people of Scotland.

Mr Stansfeld has always known and loved the works of William Lamb, and has long recognised that the artist’s standing deserved to be recorded in a book.

A lucky ‘tip-off’ pointed him in the direction of one of Lamb’s great friends, Mildred (known as ‘Ray’) Simm, who was living in Orkney, and was in possession of a treasure trove of documents relating to the artist – including around 400 letters, cuttings, accounts, diaries and other items.

After an exchange of letters, Mr Stansfeld was able to meet her and she passed on her collection to him, with encouragement to write Lamb’s biography.

A lot of further research took several years to complete, and Ray was able to read the first chapters shortly before she died in 2005, aged 105.

The book is dedicated to her memory.

Mr Stansfeld said: “As soon as I saw all the material collected together by Ray Simm, I realised that here was a truly fascinating life story of a very major, if unsung, Scottish sculptor.

“Lamb was a man who overcame many adversities to become pre-eminent in the Scottish art establishment.

“I hope that this book will go some way to rediscovering the man and re-establishing his place in Scottish art history”

Production of the book is now well under way and a launch at the Royal Scottish Academy, where Lamb was an associate member, is planned for the end of September, with a second large event to be held in Montrose shortly after.

Andrew Orr of The Montrose Heritage Trust said the book is exactly the kind of subject the trust likes to support.

He said: “We feel that William Lamb is a huge cultural asset to Montrose, to Angus and to Scotland. This interesting and beautifully illustrated book will go a long way to promoting visitors to the town, to the Sculpture Trail and the Lamb Collection.”

Kitty Ritchie, of The Friends of William Lamb which administers the artist’s former studio in Market Street, also welcomed the book’s publication.

She said: “Our group is dedicated to keeping alive the memory and reputation of William Lamb and we have been greatly looking forward to the completion of this book. It will help enormously with the success of the William Lamb Memorial Studio here in Montrose. We are very pleased to be able to help with its publication.”