1913 - 1989
Scott was born in Greenock, Scotland (1913), and spent his youth in his father’s home town of Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. He made his career in England, after studying at the Belfast College of Art(1928) and the Royal Academy Schools in London (1931).
The Scottish and Northern-Irish axis of his formative years had an undeniable bearing on his practice as an artist. While he was influenced by and contributed to several movements and shifts in British and international painting, he retained a strong but self-effacing individualism. He was never quite the full member of any movement and might even be described as a born dissenter.
The works produced from the mid 1950s to late 1960s for which he is widely known, including a controversial mural in Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry, were made and interpreted within a context in Britain at the time which aspired to a sort of high modernism. This tendency informed and validated not only artists’ practice but also critical responses of that period.
In the 1950s the pull towards American modernism was strong and meant, in post-war Britain, grey with austerity and the ‘kitchen-sink’ school, that the term ‘modern’ became a goal and not merely an adjective. At the same time this pull was weakened by an underlying British scepticism.
In Scott’s work there was a definite attraction to what was happening in New York, but simultaneously a resistance to the overstatement involved in American, that is, evangelical modernism. He was therefore not only one of the first to see and understand the achievement of New York painting of the time, but he may also have been one of the first to see through it and understand it as a continuation rather than a contradiction of European art.