Obituary: Barbara Grigor

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The Independent Online
I FIRST met Barbara Grigor in her undergraduate days at St Andrews almost 30 years ago, writes Richard Demarco (further to the obituary by Neal Ascherson, 19 October). She was the centre of attention at a tea-party in her student flat, and our conversation ranged from the internationalism of the Traverse Theatre's programme to my interest in developing the Traverse Art Gallery.

My most vivid memories are not so much of her life as a film-maker of distinction, but as a patron of the visual arts and a loyal friend of many artists. As long ago as the early Seventies, long before she helped the Scottish Sculpture Trust to come into being, in collaboration with Andrew Mylius, Tim Neat and Michael Spens, she and Murray encouraged me to welcome the leaders of the Dusseldorf School of avant-garde artists to Scotland.

Among them were Joseph Beuys, Gunther Uecker, Stefan Wewerka and Gerhard Richter. It seemed inevitable that as soon as they had arrived in Edinburgh, they should travel on to the Grigors' 'semi-detached castle' in Inverkeithing.

In the late 1980s, at a difficult time in the Demarco Gallery's history, I was particularly grateful to Barbara's courageous and generous spirit. As a result of collaboration and financial support from the trust, we were able to stage two inspiring lectures by London- based Scottish sculptors, Mark Boyle and Bruce McLean, and to mount two one-man shows devoted to sculpture of the Italian Mario Merz and the Romanian Paul Neagu. Merz and Neagu personified that vital international dialogue between Scotland and Europe which Barbara did so much to foster. In 1988, she again showed her readiness to rise to the challenge of internationalising the Scottish art world when the work of 44 British artists was introduced to Sarajevo's Gallery of Modern Art.

Finally, the dream I shared with her of a Scottish pavilion at the Venice Biennale was realised in 1990, when the trust dared to present three Scottish artists, David Mach, Arthur Watson and Kate Whitehead, with sculptural installations that dominated the centre of the Biennale gardens and commanded the attention of the crowds attending the opening ceremony.

Due to Barbara Grigor's tenacity of purpose to play the role of a generous art patron and preparedness to overcome daunting logistical problems, it proved to be a turning-point in the history of post-war Scottish art.