Obituary: Hugh Dodd, caricaturist, writer and golf artist

Born: 31 October, 1948, in East Lothian. Died: 11 June, 2014, in Edinburgh, aged 65

Hugh Dodd: Artist, writer and bon viveur who painted Scotlands most celebrated golf courses

With his caricatures, or satirical art as he preferred them to be known, Hugh Dodd relished being the onlooker. His illustrations often revealed a dark but perceptive insight into the frailty and the absurdity of human nature.

He was fascinated by the peccadilloes of those he observed: the overweight, sweating politician in an ill-fitting pin-striped suit; the Highland laird desperate to hold on to his heritage; the matronly dowager with her chihuahua and her petticoat showing.

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Yet Hugh was the most personable and engaging of men, modest to a degree, and the most congenial of companions, as can be confirmed by his legion of friends who remain in a state of shock at his sudden and premature departure.

His greatest inspiration, he claimed, came from Mort Drucker of Mad magazine and the parallels in his depicting the complete person, not just a likeness, are strikingly apparent. Other influences were Honoré Daumier and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Employing his own highly individual style which combined the genius of James Gillray with the ruthlessness of Gerald Scarfe, Hugh could not have been better matched than when he was called upon to illustrate Tales of The Turf for Jeffrey Bernard of “Unwell” fame in 1991. The book was an immediate seller and many were the celebratory get-togethers at the Coach & Horses in Greek Street, Soho.

This book had followed A Good Wigging with Dick Hamilton (on the legal profession) in 1988, and in turn led to Barrels of Fun with Michael Pope in 1996, and The Greatest Game – The Ancyent & Healthfulle Exercyse of Golff with Professor David Purdie in 2012.

Born in Glasgow, but from a family long established in Kelso in the Scottish Borders, Hugh was brought up first on a farm at Greenlaw, Berwickshire, then Whitekirk, East Lothian, from which he and his brother David were despatched by train to Scarborough College in North Yorkshire wearing kilts. It was here that he said he learned to look after himself.

On leaving Scarborough, he was offered an art scholarship to Newcastle College, but on the insistence of his parents he was sent to work for Edinburgh Fund Managers for eight months by which time he had sketched all of the staff but not learned much about finance.

Taking himself off to London, he found a job at Harrods selling socks, but rapidly transferred to the wine department where he claimed to have regularly enjoyed the indulgence of a sip of Champagne before lunch.

Then one day he skipped off work to see a Rolling Stones concert and was too embarrassed to return.

There followed an interview with Phillips, the auctioneers, and with such a good eye for detail, he soon became a dealer in paintings, catching the attention of Andrew McIntosh Patrick, managing director of The Fine Art Society of Bond Street, London. McIntosh Patrick was opening a branch in Edinburgh’s Great King Street, and offered him a job.

Through observing how deals were made in the antiques business, however, Hugh rapidly came to the conclusion that he could do just as well on his own. Better still, it provided him with the opportunity to develop his artistic talents.

In 1988, he married Sara Fitzmaurice in Sausalito, California, and their first home together was in Edinburgh.

Turning his intellect to feature writing, he contributed articles on golf, art, antiques and history to a large number of UK periodical and newspapers. He was art editor of Caledonia magazine, and his interviews with Scottish personalities covered a spectrum of Scottish sporting and artistic activity.

He also held numerous exhibitions of his paintings and caricatures in London galleries such as The Colnaghi and the Chris Beetles Gallery, and in Edinburgh at The Scottish Gallery and The Edinburgh Gallery.

His work can be found in many private and public collections, and his Huge Dog Prints sold extensively all over North America. Four of his paintings feature in The Art of Golf exhibition which opens on 10 July at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh.

Once established as a figurative and landscape painter, Hugh’s love of golf also inspired a series of substantial oils, watercolours and prints featuring some of Scotland most celebrated courses, St Andrews, Muirfield, and Loch Lomond, and golfing landmarks such as the Swilken Bridge and Gullane Hill. In 2013, he was appointed official painter to the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

A close friend and supporter of the entrepreneur Sandy Irvine Robertson when he launched the Scottish Business Achievement Awards in 1983, Hugh gave generously to a large number of Scottish charities including Marie Curie Cancer Care Scotland, The Bill McLaren Rugby Foundation, and Save the Children Fund.

Returning to live in East Lothian, it gave him immense pleasure when he acquired a house in North Berwick that had been built, complete with putting green, by the legendary golfing professional, golf course designer and manufacturer, Ben Sayers.

From here, he was within minutes of The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield, where he was a member, and Luffness New Golf Club, where he was a director. And he made the best of it.

Hugh’s legacy is one of warmth, conviviality and humour supported by an immensely versatile artistic talent. His death from cancer robs Scotland of an astute interpreter of contemporary life and for so many of us, an irreplaceable friend.

He is survived by his wife Sara, daughters Katie and Rosie and sisters Gay and Noreen. A service of thanksgiving will be held at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh on Monday, 14 July at 10am.