Obituary: Hilary Margaret Campbell McCallum, 92

Hilary was a keen supporter of the Scottish Arts Club. Picture: contributed
Hilary was a keen supporter of the Scottish Arts Club. Picture: contributed
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Hilary Margaret Campbell McCallum, art teacher and lover of the arts, has died, aged 92.

Born and brought up in Edinburgh, Hilary was educated at Cranley School for Girls and Edinburgh College of Art, where she was awarded a fellowship.

She was one of a group of young art graduates who pioneered a revolution in the teaching of art in Edinburgh primary schools in the 1940s.

Inspired by the vision of George Wright Hall, superintendent of art to the city of Edinburgh education committee, they helped and advised class teachers in a new approach which resulted in creative work by children of all abilities.

In 1947, as part of this programme, Hilary designed, and the children under her direction executed, a mural decoration of “happy horses” for a prominent position in the infant hall of Towerbank School, Portobello, which was reported widely in the press.

She later worked closely with Jack Firth, art advisor to Edinburgh Education Department, later Lothian Region, enthusiastically encouraging children’s creativity in ambitious projects. They remained friends until his death.

In 1951, Hilary married Keith McCallum, a Scottish Office civil servant who had been a distinguished scholar at Glasgow University and Balliol College. Sadly, his career and their marriage were tragically cut short by his premature death in 1964.

Hilary and Keith had a passion for art, assembling an impressive collection of paintings by Scottish artists, including Sir Robin Philipson, Dame Elizabeth Blackadder, Anne Redpath, Brenda Mark, John Houston, Sir William Gillies, Jack Firth and David McClure.

Hilary continued to collect with enthusiasm throughout her life, her interests extending to ceramics, books and recordings of classical music.

She was a well-known figure in art circles in Edinburgh and for many years a strong supporter of the Scottish Arts Club, which mounted an exhibition of her collection in 1991.

When her failing health forced her to give up her beloved flat of 60 years, where she was surrounded by a cornucopia of paintings, ceramics, books and records, she took her favourite pieces with her to Cluny Lodge Care Home, where she was looked after for the last five years of her life. Many of the remainder of her collection were exhibited at the Scottish Gallery in 2011 prior to being sold.

She was a lifelong member of the Liberal Party and latterly the Liberal Democrats, In addition to her interests in the arts, she was a skilled and enthusiastic photographer and a prolific writer of poetry.

She retained close ties with several fellow art students and developed a wide circle of friends in the arts world and beyond.