Obituary: Ian M. Robertson

Ian Macbeth Robertson, civil servant, born 1 February 1918, Private Secretary to Minister of State Scottish Office 1951-52, to Secretary of State for Scotland 1952-55, Assistant Secretary Department of Health for Scotland 1955, LVO 1956, Assistant Under-Secretary of State Scottish Office 1963-64, Under-Secretary Scottish Development Department 1964-65, Scottish Development Department 1966-78, CB 1976, Secretary of Commissions for Scotland 1978-83, member Williams Committee on National Museums and Galleries in Scotland 1979-81, Chairman of Governors Edinburgh College of Art 1981-88, HRSA 1987, married 1947 Anne Stewart Marshall, died Edinburgh 31 July 1992.

ONLY two months ago (1 June) Ian Robertson wrote for the Independent an extremely sympathetic obituary of Sir Robin Philipson, one of Scotland's leading painters. It was one of very few occasions when he wrote about art at all, writes Colin Thompson.

This was not for want of understanding and appreciation of what he saw. He and his wife Anne assembled over the years a collection of paintings, small but chosen with affection, mostly by artists they knew personally in Scotland, including several by Robin Philipson.

But Ian was a consummate professional in his own field of administration, and for this reason he was always diffident about expressing his own views in any area where he felt himself no more than an interested amateur. He preferred instead to leave it to people who might speak with more authority, listening to what he heard with a highly developed critical faculty - and sense of the absurd - and an extremely retentive memory.

When he joined the Scottish Education Department as Under-Secretary, responsibility for the arts had just been transferred to it from the Home Department. This was in the teeth of strong protests from the Chairman of the National Galleries, but Ian soon convinced him that the move was for the better. It became well-known in time that any letter that concerned the museums or the arts would stop at the Under-Secretary's desk.

His involvement with the arts continued after his retirement with the Williams Committee on Scotland's National Museums and Galleries and, from 1981 to 1988, chairmanship of the Board of Governors of Edinburgh College of Art.

In 1987 he was made an Honorary Royal Scottish Academician in recognition of his continuing support for art and artists. He was a man for whom the arts were a necessary and integral component of civilised life, not - as so many members of other professions are inclined to see them - a frivolous and unnecessarily expensive extra.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us