Banker and art enthusiast Robert Lillie left a generous bequest for the creation of the gallery and, when it opened in 1962, it was the first art gallery to open in Britain since the Second World War.
A custom built art gallery of this scale is a rarity in Scotland. Designed by esteemed architect Michael Bowley, it benefits from a large, elegantly proportioned main gallery space and innovative lighting system. Have you ever noticed the quirkily shaped roof? It contains a creatively designed series of shutters which can be closed to protect delicate works or opened to flood the space with natural light.
The two designs that the council has put forward for its new hub in Milngavie would have a seriously negative impact on this beautiful gallery. I would like to suggest a third option, similar to option two, where the hub is created as proposed but the line of the building is rethought so that the corner of the main gallery is not cut away, thus maintaining the integrity of the beautiful gallery space as it stands.
As a youngster I was inspired by exhibitions I visited there ranging from local amateur artists to the great and the good of 20th century art such as Joan Eardley and Henry Moore.
My own first solo exhibition was held at the Lillie and I have since exhibited across the globe. Many young artists from East Dunbartonshire will have been inspired by visits to the gallery and in this age of mental well-being and mindfulness surely we do not want to deplete this resource for no good reason.
Creative expression is so important for many of us. Although important locally, the Lillie is actually a national treasure. It frequently exhibits work from all the major art institutions and societies in Scotland and the gallery layout is an important factor in its success.
Please don’t let this beautiful gallery be diminished when there is no need for it to happen.
It is often said that organising creative types is like trying to herd cats but I am asking anyone with a real interest in the arts to write to the council or their local politician and get them to rethink this plan.
I hope that they have simply not fully realised just what a unique gallery they have and that we can make them think again and save this unique gem for future generations.
Comments can be sent to: [email protected] –
Iona A E Montgomery