Tuesday 3 May 2016


I had seen odd paintings by HILDA GOLDWAG over all the years I wrote for the Herald. Strong, vigorous figurative images of people, often women. The works were never tranquil, never easy. 
Goldwag was a name & a presence in many Glasgow group shows, & at the Kelly Gallery & Lillie but until my recent visit to the HIDDEN LANE GALLERY in Argyle Street I had no idea of her history, nor of her range and accomplishment. 
As so often Joe Mulholland had spotted her talent AND followed up on it, going to visit her in her tiny flat in Knightswood. By this time Hilda was in her late 80s but still busy painting. After her death in 2008 he continued to seek out her work, with the result that he has mounted several exhibitions of her work. 
The current comprehensive show, coinciding as it did with Glasgow International, is a salutary lesson in real lived emotion evident in many of her best works. 
Born into a Jewish family, her father an artist, in 1938 Hilda graduated with distinction from art school in Vienna. In March 1939 she came to Edinburgh via a permit obtained by friends. Her family were not so lucky. All perished in the Holocaust. 
This sadness never left her, and inevitably is reflected in her work.
But she also had huge determination & an appetite for life. Strong gestural line, bold colour, dramatic poses, these are what I associate with Hilda Goldwag, and are seen at Hidden Lane in abundance. 
She made a good life for herself in Glasgow, working as head of design at Friedlanders in Hillington on scarfs for Marks & Spencer; then as illustrator for various publishers including Collins; later as a hospital occupational therapist. Living in Garnethill near Glasgow School of Art, she made friends with other artists, some who had also fled the Nazis. 
But her loss of family remained a fact of life. She died in Glasgow aged 95, leaving her work to be rescued or thrown away - she would never know. 
I do hope Glasgow Museums have at least a couple of her paintings. And if not, they should visit the Hidden Lane Gallery.

Meanwhile life goes on outside Glasgow
The AYRSHIRE Open Studios are on,  
www.openstudiosayrshire.com with a free bus hop on hop off with 70 artists to visit including Ian McNicol, the well known printmaker; Leona Stewart, glass; Dianne Gardiner painter, Janet Laurie, silver; Merlin Currie from beautiful Barr; Fiona Robertson who has turned to acrylic for her upbeat pictures & Robert Reid, wood! 

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