Tribute to sculptor who spent 50 years in Angus mental asylum

Adam Christie commemorative sculpture was unveiled at Sleepyhillock Cemetery, Montrose.  Pictured left to right are Dave Ramsay, Deputy Provost of Aberdeenshire Council Allison Grant, Deputy Provost of Angus Council Alex King, sculptor Brian Wyllie, and Shetland relatives Megan and Laura Christie.  Picture: Andy Thompson Photography

Adam Christie commemorative sculpture was unveiled at Sleepyhillock Cemetery, Montrose. Pictured left to right are Dave Ramsay, Deputy Provost of Aberdeenshire Council Allison Grant, Deputy Provost of Angus Council Alex King, sculptor Brian Wyllie, and Shetland relatives Megan and Laura Christie. Picture: Andy Thompson Photography

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A STONE head commemorating a sculptor who spent 50 years in an Scottish mental asylum has been unveiled at the end of an eight-year project

Adam Christie, from Shetland, spent his adult life in Sunnyside Royal Hospital in Angus, and shunned sophisticated tools in favour of a six-inch nail, an old file, and a worn-down piece of glass.

He created paintings using old tins of gloss and discarded flour bags for canvasses. A lover of music and verse, he wrote poetry, music and made fiddles out of old tea chests.

He was buried in a pauper’s grave at Sleepyhillock Cemetery in nearby Montrose in 1950.

His resting place had been marked by a Historic Scotland plaque, with a counterpart unveiled in his birthplace of Cunningsburgh, on the Shetland mainland.

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The campaign to keep his name alive culminated in the unveiling of the stone head head of Christie, by Arbroath sculptor Brian Wyllie, based on a photograph in the book “The Gentle Shetlander”, which related the artist’s life at the institution.

Christie achieved some fame as a so-called “outsider artist”.

The term outsider art was coined in 1972 as an English synonym for the French term “art brut” or “rough art”, describing art created outside the boundaries of official culture - particularly on art by those “on the outside” of the established art scene, such as psychiatric hospital patients and children.

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