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Corrie Summer School (1911-C1939)

By Ann Hume 25/03/21

Painting High Corrie, Arran by Jessie M King, copyright MutualArt

Both Jesse M King and her husband E.A.Taylor had strong connections with Arran. Jesse spent time on the island as a child, when her father exchanged pulpits with the minister of Lamlash church, for a short time each summer. Taylor often visited the island on sketching holidays and on one particular occasion in the 1890s, he was inspired by a meeting with Charles Rennie Mackintosh . In 1908 when the Taylors married they spent their honeymoon on Arran.

Image of Jessie M King copyright University of Glasgow Library

In 1910 the couple moved to Paris for Taylor to take up the post as professor at Tudor Hart's Studio. At the same time he became the Paris correspondent for the Studio magazine (an illustrated magazine of fine and applied art). Things didn't go to plan working for Tudor Hart, so having gained a year's experience in the running of a small art school, Taylor decided to set up his own school with Jesse in 1911, the Shealing Atelier.

Image of EA Taylor copyright Creative Commons

The Taylor's lived and worked in Paris at their studio, The Shealing, from October to May, however, they needed a way to earn an income over the long summer months and so plans emerged to begin a summer school on Arran.

The first summer school was established in High Corrie in 1911, when they brought 17 women from Paris to attend a month's tuition in painting. It was an amazing achievement involving the logistics of travel arrangements from Paris to Glasgow, train to Ardrossan and then by ferry to Brodick. In addition to this, accommodation had to be arranged. In those days many of Arran's residents moved out of their homes into back houses or other outhouses to make room for their paying visitors for the summer. The accommodation was modest, with an oil lamp or candle, cold running water or an outside butt for washing.

Often the students' accommodation was spread around the island and the organisation transporting them all in different directions must have been quite a challenge. Transport was provided by the mail coach owned by Kaspar Ribbeck. He transported the mail from Brodick to Corrie and Sannox and often took passengers on his journey as well as using his charabanc out with these times as private hire transport.

Kaspar Ribbeck and his charabang outside what used to be Brodick post office, now the chemist, in 1902

The summer school proved to be a great success with different groups arriving each month to spend time studying drawing and painting the landscapes, shores and quaint little whitewashed cottages of Corrie. Students came from far and wide including France, Germany, Poland, USA and the UK. Throughout the summer, at various points in the day, Taylor could be heard rounding up his students who were working in various locations around the village, by means of a shepherd's pipe. Whilst working in Paris, every morning he had heard a goatherd blowing his pipe to alert his customers he was selling milk and so Taylor adapted this idea for his students on Arran.

When the couple left Paris in 1915, the Taylors set up a similar school at the cottages in Greengate close in Kirkudbright . They were now able to advertise two summer schools in different locations. The student numbers increased significantly with students arriving from France, USA, Australia, Poland, Germany and the UK. The student fees were 75 francs per month, roughly £3 per month for UK students. They took part in classes in oil, water colour and pencil and were given instruction in composition, using their sketches to create paintings.

Over the years the Summer school ran at High Corrie (1911- c1939) the Taylors may have based themselves in a number of places in the village. We know that they stayed in a very basic cottage known locally as the Hen Coop.

We also know that for a number of summers in the 1920s and 30s they stayed at Mountain View cottage. Mountain View was let to them by the Logan family and is still in the same family today. The present owners are Ronnie and Ann Logan. Ronnie's Gt grandparents, Mr and Mrs Robert Logan, lived in the house with their four children, Robert (known as Robin), Ronald, Chrissie and Mary. For the duration of the summer the family moved into a small summer house directly behind Mountain View.

Mountain View much as it would have been when the Taylor's stayed there.

In the 1920s Jesse M King gifted the Logan family a drawing of their two daughters Chrissie and Mary, depicting them looking into the local shop window, a shop which the sisters would later themselves own, with Mary's name above the door. Chrissie and Mary lived their whole lives at Mountain View and met King and Taylor every year until the summer school ceased c1939. Niece of Chrissie and Mary, local lady Margaret Logan, (deceased) remembered as a child, Jesse King coming into the back of the shop for cups of tea and chat with her aunts. According to Margaret she had a gregarious character, unusually dressed for Arran and was very well thought of by the family.

Etching of Chrissie and Mary

The original Corrie shop from the etching of the Mountain View girls. The two girls as women shown standing in front of the shop they now own.

Jesse also presented the family with a copy of one of her books, written while staying at Mountain View, 'Mummy's bedtime storybook'

Inscription in the book to Logan girls.

The girls of Mountain View being Chrissie and Mary.

It is also said that Jesse M King was overheard remarking, while sitting outside Mountain View with her husband in 1925,

'You know, I would give £2000 for this view.'

The Summer school continued in Corrie until C1940.

With thanks to David Devereux, Stewartry museum

Ronnie Logan, Mountainview Corrie

Ref- The Enchanted World of Jesse M King by Colin White 1989


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