Gairloch Museums reopens with rare Finlay Mackinnon paintings on display

20 February 2023
The German Offensive by Finlay Mackinnon
Gairloch Museum in the Scottish Highlands is reopening for 2023 with its first ever display of World War One frontline watercolours.

During March and April, the Museum’s lower gallery will be featuring an exhibition on The Poolewe Artist, Finlay Mackinnon. 

This exhibition will display a collection of watercolours and sketches by Finlay Mackinnon for the first time. It has been made possible thanks to the donation of an album of his work, given to Gairloch Museum in 2021.

Russell Burn, Kishorn

Born in 1863 in Poolewe, Mackinnon fulfilled his early promise and achieved notable success during his lifetime. So much so that he became known as ‘The Poolewe Artist’. Working in pencil and watercolour, the album showcases two of the artist’s most well-known subjects - the landscapes of his beloved Highlands and his experiences at the Western Front during the First World War.  

Created under treacherous conditions while serving with the 4th Seaforth Highlanders, these works are unique representations of the devastation to the French landscape.

A grant from the Association for Independent Museums allowed Gairloch Museum to fund the conservation of the album. In the conservator’s studio at the Highland Archive Centre, the album was rebound, cleaned and the artworks secured. 

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As well as the album being on display, the artworks inside have been digitised and will be projected in the exhibition, giving a much fuller appreciation of The Poolewe Artist’s work. Research for the exhibition has brought a wealth of new knowledge about the artist to add to the Museum archives, and the donors are delighted that these paintings have 'come home', the Museum being less than a mile from where Finlay Mackinnon is buried in Gairloch's new cemetery.

In the Museum’s upper gallery contemporary artwork by Katherine Sutherland will be on show. Titled “Colours of Scotland” Katherine Sutherland’s paintings are an emotional response to the landscape – a poetic expression, rather than a photographic representation of nature. 

Gairloch Museum opening times

The Museum re-opens the following week from Thursday 9th March, 11am – 4pm Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The opening hours change from Monday 3rd April when the Museum will be open 10am – 5pm Mondays-Saturdays. 

Gairloch Museum, Achtercairn House, Gairloch IV21 2BH; website.

Text and images courtesy Gairloch Museum