Recognition for artist who gave it up for day job

Edwin G Lucas, 'Walking the Dog, 1949. Picture: Comp
Edwin G Lucas, 'Walking the Dog, 1949. Picture: Comp
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AN “astonishing” collection of paintings by an artist who was told to give up on his dream is going on show at a major gallery – after lying in storage for 60 years.

Leith-born Edwin G Lucas, who died in 1990 aged 79, was barely known in the art world and encouraged to take a day job instead.

But now his surrealist paintings are to be displayed at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. His son said his dad – who all but gave up his artistic ambition in 1952 to work in the civil service – would have been thrilled to know he would one day earn recognition.

Alan Lucas, 56, who lives in Corstorphine, said: “The house was full of my father’s paintings when we were growing up and while he once said to me that he considered himself as ‘an artist with a day job’, I think he accepted how his life had turned out – it wasn’t something that gnawed away at him.

“But I think he would be delighted to hear what people are saying about his paintings now.”

The paintings, being shown as part of the New Acquisitions display, were rediscovered after Alan invited curator Patrick Elliott to his house after an exhibition at the gallery in 2011.

Mr Elliott said: “I was amazed by what Alan had on display in his house. We then had a look at paintings in the storage unit and I was blown away.

“They are impressive because they are inexplicable; I’ve not seen anything quite like them before. He’s got nothing in common with anyone painting in Scotland at the time – or in fact anywhere else.”

The discovery of Mr Lucas’s work is now predicted to cause shockwaves across the art world in Scotland, with one celebrated industry figure branding it unique.

John Byrne, who has several paintings in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, said: “I had never heard of him until very recently, but his work is wonderful.

“It really is shameful that he died without recognition but at least at long last we have discovered him.”

And the exhibition is sure to be put a few zeroes on the price tag of Mr Lucas’s work.

Alan said: “We had a sale of his work in 2009. I think the highest price we sold anything for was about £1800. Will they be worth more now? Well, I suppose all this recognition won’t be driving prices down.”