Saturday, 18 April 2009

Alexander Goudie

There are few artists from outside France that have worked with the Quimper Faienceries but one such artist, who we particularly like, is Alexander Goudie who was a Scot.
Born in Paisley in 1933 Goudie did not come from an artistic family (his father was a Master Plumber) but never the less he was encouraged in his early desire to draw.

After Grammar school he was admitted to the Glasgow School of Art where it became apparent that he was in a class apart from his contemporaries.

Quickly achieving prize winning status not only was Goudie's talent in drawing and painting but the head of sculpture. Benno Schotz, also recognised in him a talent for modelling.
While still a student Goudie spent 6 weeks in Paris on a scholarship, this experience had a great influence on his work; 1n 1958 he travelled to in Spain to paint, but the next year he returned to France, this time visiting the South West where he started painting landscapes.
It was after this and when he had returned to Glasgow, that he was introduced to Marie-Renee Dorval from Brittany. Although Goudie was not familiar with the area he was certainly aware of its influence on artists such as Gaugin.
In 1959, the year of Goudie's first visit to the region, the Dorval family lived in Quimper, but in the summer of 1960 the family moved to Loctudy and to the home that Goudie was to visit for the next 30 years.
In 1962 Goudie married Marie – Renee (known as Mainee) and they set up home in a cottage just outside Paisley, Scotland,then, as success came, they moved to a beautiful house in the more prestigious West End of Glasgow.
For a while Goudie taught at the Glasgow School of Art but eventually decided to devote his time to his own work, he became well known for his portraiture counting Billy Connolly, mountaineer Chris Bonnington and the Queen among his subjects, but his annual vacations in Brittany continued to provide inspiration.
In 1966 he staged his first exhibition of Breton paintings at The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, other exhibitions of Breton paintings at various galleries followed in 1986, 1987, 1992, 2002 and 2005

In 1987 Goudie was commissioned to design the décor for the Brittany Ferries ship ‘Bretagne’ : this involved him in not just the mural and paintings but also in the design of the carpets, blinds, menus and china. In 1995 he again worked with Brittany Ferries this time on the décor of the first class salon on the boat ‘Val de Loire’

In 1995 he started a collaboration with the Musee de la Faience and in 1997 the Museum staged an exhibition dedicated to him (which was where we first saw his work), the next year the same exhibition was staged in Glasgow.

Alexander Goudie passed away in 2004

For those of us interested in Quimper and its pottery his figurals are probably his most interesting work, but in Scotland he is famed for a series of fifty four paintings illustrating ‘Tam O’Shanter’ the poem by Robbie Burns. The paintings attempt to visually translate the work for those unable to interpret the rich Scottish dialect!

Had Goudie been an easier man, content to tow the establishment line, we may have heard more of him but the truth was that according to his biographers he was often considered arrogant, conceited and bombastic. He railed against the establishment sometimes engaging in legal action to prove a point.

At one stage the whole of the Tam O’ Shanter series was at risk of being broken up because of a dispute, and it was only the intervention of two of Scotland’s wealthiest men that saved it.

Whatever his character we are particularly attracted to his figural pieces: we like the way he captures the spirit of the subject, the Breton je ne sais quoi, the detail coupled with a certain ruggedness, appeals to us.
The first piece we bought was ‘The Bretonne at Prayer’: the morning after viewing the Exhibition in 1997, we were supposed to be dashing for the ferry but delayed our departure to wait for the Museum to open so we could make the purchase……… The next purchase wasn’t until 2007 at the post Rouen/La Baule meeting visit to Quimper and the Musee…… I am hoping it will not be too long before we add to the collection again……

Alexander Goudie is survived by two sons and a daughter. One son, Lachlan Goudie, has followed in his fathers footsteps and is an artist, he has been featured at the Elizabeth Harris Gallery in New York

For more information about Alexander Goudie please visit:

Many thanks to Code Bleu for the use of the picture of La Goemoniere' and to Brittany Ferries for the close up of the mural and the portrait.


  1. Another very informative postabout an artist that not too many collectors of Quimper will know vey much about.
    Thanks Gay.

  2. Here's another good link with his art work Gay! I've learned so much from your article! Spurred me on to search for even more: