ALASDAIR AULD, Past President of GAFAS.


Alasdair Auld was born in Edinburgh in 1930. The family moved to Glasgow when he was four, and he went to school at Shawlands Academy. He later enrolled in the Glasgow School of Art, excelled in his studies, gained his Diploma in Art, and never looked back.

In 1956, he was appointed Assistant Curator at Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries. Over the next 23 years he held a succession of distinguished posts in Glasgow Museums, culminating in his appointment as its Director in 1979, a post he held until his retirement in 1988. Among many awards during these years, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Art.

During his years as Director, he reorganised the galleries, he upgraded the Armour collection, he created a permanent space for exhibitions, and, his most notable achievement, he oversaw the opening of The Burrell Collection in 1983.
His most important purchase was Thomas Faed’s “The Last of the Clan”, 1865, bought in 1980, which brings to life the tragic story relating to the Highland Clearances, during which time crofters were turned off their meagre land by greedy landowners, and forced to emigrate. It is one of Kelvingrove’s most loved works.

He became President of Glasgow Antiques and Fine Arts Society in the 1970s, most likely at the invitation of the first Chair, Mrs Marjory Mabbott. No Programme Cards or Minutes of the time have been found. It is possible that he was President from 1973, the year the Society was founded. When asked when he was appointed, he would shake his head wryly and say he couldn’t remember, and when a comment was jokingly made that it was probably back in the Stone Age, he replied “No, No, much earlier than that…Jurassic”.

Whatever length of time he was in office, he was highly respected and much loved, witty and charming, kind and thoughtful, reassuring and encouraging to everyone. During his entire career, he was known as a very sympathetic and supportive boss to every colleague in his museum team.

He was a loyal and regular attender of our GAFAS lectures, always giving eloquent and amusing Votes of Thanks after the first and last lectures of every programme, delighting in meeting the Speakers beforehand, and able to converse eruditely on whatever theme their talk happened to be. Despite his academic and highly distinguished career, and his immense knowledge of Art in all its facets, he was very much a man of the people. Nothing thrilled him more than chatting about every day life, or controversial topics in art, and especially his love of golf and travel. He was a natural presenter and raconteur, and a born leader.

Our Society has been truly blessed in having had such an engaging and delightful President for so many years. He has left an enduring legacy of a lifetime promoting Art. He was a wonderful ambassador for The Glasgow Antiques and Fine Arts Society.

Alan Macdonald.       July 2019

Welcome to the Glasgow Antiques and Fine Art Society, known as GAFAS, an independent art organisation, founded in 1972, with a membership of 650. Meetings are held monthly on Wednesdays at 10.30am, in the Strathclyde Suite of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, from September to June, excluding January.

Distinguished lecturers are invited from all parts of the United Kingdom, to present talks on a wide range of antique or contemporary art topics.   An Annual Outing is held in May, to visit a venue of outstanding national or international artistic importance.

New Members are very welcome, and may apply online or by post, as detailed on the ‘Become a Member’ page.


Header & footer images photographed for GAFAS from objects in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum