Obituary: James More, Emeritus professor of design, 65

James More helped market the work of Dovecot Studios internationally
James More helped market the work of Dovecot Studios internationally
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James More, Emeritus professor of design and the former managing director of Dovecot Studios, has died, aged 65.

Mr More was born on June 3, 1946, in Kirkcaldy, Fife, and attended Kirkcaldy High School, where he showed great talent for music and arts.

He played double bass in the school band and also played the organ at his local church, but when it came to deciding on a career, he opted for an art degree, specialising in textiles at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee. He won a scholarship to study as a post-graduate before embarking on a year’s teacher training.

His first job was as a carpet and towel designer for BMK Carpets in Kilmarnock. Around this time he and his wife Lyn started an arts and crafts business, Linden Arts, which they ran for about 20 years. It won a Design Council award for its quality of design and products.

Mr More joined the Scottish College of Textiles in Galashiels as a lecturer in visual studies in 1974 before being appointed in 1987 as artistic/managing director of the Edinburgh Tapestry Company, also known as Dovecot Studios.

He was heavily involved in marketing the work of the studios, both nationally and internationally. His first tapestry commission was for Edinburgh’s Dunedin Fund Managers and he was involved in creating a number of significant collections as well as overseeing the largest tapestry ever to have been woven in Britain.

Commissioned for the British Library, the piece – probably the best known work of RB Kitaj and titled If Not, Not – was created on a specially-built loom measuring 7 metres by 7 metres.

He collaborated on a series of works, known as the Scottish Collection, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the studios, working with artists including John Bellany, William Littlejohn and Dame Elizabeth Blackadder.

Current Dovecot Studios director David Weir said: “He is certainly leaving a legacy. James was a very important part of the Dovecot story.”

In 1993 Mr More joined Northumbria University as head of the department of design and became a professor there the following year. He led the department through its transition from part of the faculty of arts and design into a school in its own right in 2002.

He announced plans to retire early in 2009 and his contribution to the school’s considerable success was recognised when he was named a school design fellow that year.

He remained enthusiastically committed to helping Dovecot ensure its future when it was on the verge of closing down around a decade ago. In retirement he took creative writing classes and was persuaded to put a collection of new paintings together for an exhibition at his friend Wallace Shaw’s Arthouse in Leith.

More recently, he had been recounting the story of his time at Dovecot for a book on the studios’ centenary year – Dovecot 1912-2012: 100 Years of Contemporary Tapestry.

He is survived by his wife Lyn, their children Jonathan, Ashley and Stephanie and grandchildren Ruaridh James and Madeleine Scarlet.