Scottie Wilson

1888 to 1972, Scotland/Canada

Scottie Wilson was born as Louis Freeman in Glasgow, Scotland. He attended school only briefly, remained illiterate and helped his family by selling newspapers on the street.

At 16 he joined the army, after which he worked in travelling fairs, in the circus and eventually opened a small shop in London. During the First World War he was on the Western Front. After the war he emigrated to Toronto, Canada, where he once again had a small shop. In 1928, aged 40, he began to draw, in the room behind his shop. He described his early drawing as if he was working under the influence of a medium. Later he moved to Vancouver, where he worked exclusively as an artist. After the Second World War he returned to London, where he sold his drawings at markets or through exhibitions which he organised himself in unusual places, such as in front of cinemas. He drew the outlines of his subjects – fish, people, birds, self-portraits – in black and white ink, then shaded them in using a different colour of ink. This produces a subtle effect of transparency. Jean Dubuffet and Pablo Picasso collected his work. Royal Worcester commissioned him to decorate a range of tableware. His work can be seen in museums such as MoMA, New York and the Tate in London. He can also be found in numerous Art Brut collections all over the world, such as the collection of Eternod & Mermod, Switzerland and the Audrey B. Heckler collection, USA.

 

Selected works