Robert and Pamela Stevens Collection

Fifty six years ago the Brechin Advertiser gave an account of the presentation ceremony when over 40 works by David Waterson were handed over to the people of Brechin – “The pictures will be known as the David Waterson Collection and will form a lasting memorial in honour of an artist who spent a lifetime in revealing and recording for posterity the hidden beauties of his native city.” This collection is held by Angus Council on behalf of the people of Brechin

Earlier in the year, my good friend the late Robert Stevens donated his entire collection of “Watersons,” similar in number to that of the D W Collection, to the safe-keeping of the David Waterson Trust on the strict understanding that they also remained in the ownership of the Brechin people and we hope soon to exhibit what is to be known as the “Robert and Pamela Stevens Collection.”

Robert ensured that his collection was handed over in mint condition having overseen their restoration and reframing

During the time of the DW Trust’s search for DW’s works, Robert and I were both surprised and shocked to learn of the collection of 57 mezzotints and etchings that had lain under cover for more than one- hundred years in the British Museum in London

There are several other collections of DW’s works and the “Robert and Pamela Stevens Collection” is another hugely important donation to the people of Brechin

I’m mindful of Mrs Waterson’s conclusion to her presentation – “Those who pursue Art from love of the Art and with nobleness of mind are to be commended above all others”

This wonderful and beautiful gift to the people of Brechin will soon be identified as such within, “a lasting memorial” to Robert who has to be commended for this generous and selfless act

John Ritchie


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The AGM of the David Waterson Trust (DWT) was held in Brechin last week when two new trustees, Alex Craig and Karen Hamilton were welcomed; current office bearers were re-elected

The DWT web site that includes historical narratives and virtual gallery of a huge collection of many of David Waterson’s works continues to attract considerable interest.

DWT treasurer Mike Mitchell provided an updated list of paintings in the trust’s ownership including a recent purchase of an oil portrait of a young boy “Graham” and a recent donation of over 40 paintings which we hope to display in April 2014 to commemorate 60 years since David Waterson’s passing

David Waterson’s 500 poems, transcribed by trustee Frieda Haggart, has been placed into 12 categories by trustee Ken MacAskill under the headings of Brechin, Melancholy, Metaphysical, Mythological, Nature, Passage of time, Romance, Scots, Sundries and Supernatural

It was agreed, after several recent discussions with Norman Atkinson of Angus Council, that hard copies of the poems would be placed in folders representing the various categories and copies left in the Library and Town House Museum

The David Waterson Memorial Collection (DWMC), as previously confirmed, has been finally recognised, it is hoped that a coloured brochure will be produced and a rededication of the DWMC made to the people of Brechin by Ken MacAskill and others of his family who are closely related to David Waterson

The chairman voiced thanks to Messrs Savills for the use of their boardroom and to Councillor Mairi Evans for taking the time to show trustees around the old Council Chambers in Panmure Street

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Second AGM

How time flies!  An expression that has been uttered countless times and again last week when chairman of the David Waterson Trust welcomed trustees to the second AGM held in the Northern Hotel – our thanks to the owners and staff for their continued support.  Office bearers were re-elected – John Ritchie in the chair, Ewan Haggart vice-chair, Dr Hamish Greig, secretary and Mike Mitchell finance

Not wishing to spend too much time dwelling on the past; the past two years has seen the construction and development of the web site a testament to the hard work of the trustees and a reminder of the many talents of DW and his amazingly talented wife – a strong foundation has been laid for future advancement

Those who don’t have internet access can avail themselves of the facilities at Brechin Library where staff will be able to direct to the web site and to DW’s magnificent variety of skills, links to an eventful past and where the David Waterson Memorial Collection, owned by the Brechin people, continues to receive the most hits

We must acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Angus Council Cultural Services who exhibited the entire DWMC in the Old Town House Museum – ex Brechin Provost, the late and much admired Sandy Buchan’s comments in the Brechiner of Aug 1985, “Perhaps a start could be made to remind Brechiners what their collection looks like” a reminder indeed of how time flies!

New trustee Karenina Johnson was introduced to the trustees, a welcome reinforcement in the tasks that lie ahead, much of which is confidential at the moment and the subject of on-going discussions with Angus Council Cultural Services – exciting prospects that will be made public at the earliest opportunity

Our main task for 2012 will be to finalise the amazing collection of DW’s poems, the tracking down of countless elusive works still to be unearthed and to investigate the possibilities of an exhibition of DW’s finest works to coincide with the Commonwealth Games.

The meeting ended with the financial statement and take this opportunity to invite new annual or life memberships – contact Mike Mitchell please

It is hoped that very soon the complete collection of over 500 poems written by DW and categorized into 10 different folders by trustee Ken MacAskill will be made available and we are looking for volunteers to help out with proof reading and final transcription in conjunction with AC staff at Restenneth in Forfar

One such poem from the Brechin folder reminds us that times have indeed changed!

The Sabbath Wark

Somebody’s knocking in nails on Sunday

I can hear the hammer dunt

What if it’s someone that can’t wait till Monday

Or something that won’t

Merrily the sparrow cheep and larks aroon the kirk

Where Oh I can see the howkit earth below the weepin’ birk

Harken! Hammering on a kist in the kirktime

An psalms singing dowf

Bless the quiet sunsheen and waery for the wirktime

For you dark howf

A blessin and the lilt o’ the glad spring tide

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David Waterson Poems – initial appraisal by Ken MacAskill

I have read and attempted an initial classification of poems taken from the Diaries and those numbered 301-400.  As a former teacher of English I have attempted a brief critical analysis of the poems and stress that I have adopted an objective approach.

General:  The poems represent the juvenile poetry and later mature work of DW.  They are strongly visual with frequent references to colours, both primary and more exotic, as would be expected.

He favours lyric poetry – many quite short and with a strong emphasis on rhyme.  A considerable number are in Scots and these seem to me to be among his most successful work.  The poems tend to be highly wrought, sometimes rather florid, introspective and reflective.

Influences: Waterson in his early days was no doubt influenced by poetry studied at school or readily available in libraries etc.  Some of his supernatural and mythological verse has echoes of the Pre-Raphaelite late Victorian style both in subject matter and treatment.  Some of the Scots poems hark back to medieval ballad forms and there are also strong similarities with W B Yeats in his recurring theme of Celtic/Irish mythology.  Nature is regarded romantically and sentimentally which is a reminder of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Clare but the most pervasive influence is his strong visual sense – his artist’s eye for detail and colour characterise his poetry.  He also loves the lasses!

Themes: Several major themes can be discerned in DW’s poems.  The natural world is central to his poetic interest and also a related theme is the passage of time.  He writes of the seasons and particular months and notes the changes and subtleties of nature that they bring to landscape.  He reveals a romantic streak – especially in his earlier work – which introduces another recurring theme – that of melancholy.

There is often a wistful and frustrated tone in much of his writing.  He agonises on love at various stages of his life.  His fascination with the wider world is clear in his mythological and supernatural musings often mentioning dreams and dreaming (cf Yeats).  He was obviously quite widely read and makes frequent classical allusions.  I would suggest that in some poems he reflects upon his own ambitions as an artist and his relationship to Brechin, his native city.  He returns to the Viking/Danish raids on Brechin and the surrounding landscape and includes some biting social comments in several poems.

Style: The language of poetic diction and the over-elaborate rhyme schemes which DW employs can become rather tiresome.  He is often consciously striving for a poetic voice and this results in some highly artificial and ornate lines which do seem forced.  I also freely confess that some of the poems – as well as individual words or lines – do not make much sense and baffle me and here, an appreciation of or a nod to impressionism or post-impressionism becomes necessary.

DW tries to create an atmospheric quality as he would in a painting or etching- in some of his poems.  His insistence on rhyme also detracts from some of his work.  It can descend into doggerel at times; he is careless with scansion.

The lack of titles in Poems 301-400 seems an odd omission on his part.  The Scots poems have a lively quality and are worthy of closer study from a dialect and local Angus vocabulary standpoint.  There is, however, great vigour and an honesty in what he expresses on the page.  His prose evocation of the Taranty Fair is wonderfully nostalgic and powerful – appealing to all the senses!

Those who transcribed his work deserve great praise for their patience, scholarship and devotion even although there are still some blanks to be filled in!

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Self-portrait etching of David Waterson

Mike Balcom-Vetillo of Earlville Illinois USA has kindly provided the DWT with an excellent image of a self-portrait etching of David Waterson, purchased in an antique shop near Edzell in Angus Scotland – more than 40 years ago!  Mike also provided a link to his own not inconsiderable collection of art works which he has amassed over the years

Our grateful thanks again to all those who have provided images since the launch of our web site – advance notice of the next upload will be given via this news section

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New images

Several new images of David Waterson’s work have been sent to us over the past few months and we hope to upload these to our virtual gallery in the very near future – our grateful thanks to those from home and abroad who have provided the images.  The DWT would be grateful for any information of the many more images that have still to be located – Scotland, France and Sweden in particular

Google analytics continues to provide updates of the daily hits to our web site that since the launch less than two years ago has increased on a month by month basis with hits spread over seventy-five per-cent of the globe!

The David Waterson Memorial Collection, donated to the people of Brechin by Mrs Waterson only a year or so after David’s passing, is currently on show at the Old Town House Museum and Gallery in Brechin and has attracted over 2,300 visitors – this exhibition will remain for some time yet and certainly worth a close look as are the Museum exhibits

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New images uploaded

Angus Council Collection – “additional framed works”

Photographs “David Waterson” DW aged 42 of David Waterson sketching in one of the Glens

A number of paintings and etchings have been sold recently at auction houses here in Scotland, Southern England, Australia, Sweden, Canada and the United States.  The Trustees would very much welcome images of these and any other works for adding to this unique collection

Please send high resolution JPG photographs to and if you have a story to tell we would love to be able to add it as a news item; identities would be protected unless otherwise stated

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Brechin artist David Waterson attracts global audience

The chairman welcomed and thanked the good number who turned up at the Northern Hotel Brechin for the first AGM of the DWT on Saturday past thanking also the staff and owners of the hotel for allowing free use of the facilities for the one and a half hours that it took to attend to the business of the day

The chairman’s introductory report dealt with an analysis of the past twelve months highlighting the main achievement as identification and recognition of the David Waterson Memorial Collection owned by the people of Brechin and under the custodianship of Angus Council.

All agreed that the exhibition currently on display in the Old Town House Museum and Gallery was a credit to Norman Atkinson and staff of Cultural services, those who had fought for years for its recognition and most of all to David Waterson and his wife Anne

Many excellent ideas were proffered regarding future exhibitions, rededication of the DWMC and the suggestion of a coloured brochure depicting the entire DWMC was greeted with considerable excitement; it was agreed that the trustees would continue to work with Norman Atkinson in seeking out the many works still to be photographed

The only disappointments noted were that we had received only one image from Sweden, Paris has still a lot to offer and we had still to trace bequests made to St Andrews University and Bankside Gallery London where staff have been extremely helpful in their response for additional help

A number of emails were read out from across the globe where one author from the USA, also an artist says “I own two of DW’s etchings and without a doubt he was the biggest influence upon my own artwork and I owe much of my success to his artwork”

Several other emails had resulted in purchases having been made on behalf of the DWT and on behalf of the Brechin people

The meeting was reminded about the sterling work carried out by Frieda Haggart in transcribing the 550 poems written by DW, husband Denny reported on behalf of Frieda, who couldn’t attend, that the first stages of the initial transcription would be completed by the end of the year

Trustee Gwen Wood reported on the charitable status application and man in charge of financial affairs Mike Mitchell reported a healthy balance sheet and thanked Mark Taylor for having audited the accounts.  A number of works had been purchased and were shown to the meeting

Mike reported that a generous donation of £2.5K had been given to the DWT by Miss Paterson of Brechin who sadly passed away only a few days ago.  Miss Paterson knew David Waterson well and her donation will be put to good use

The concluding part of the meeting was given over to an update of the extremely successful web site when it was reported that 71 cities/towns in the UK had accessed the site, 15 states in the USA, 3 in Canada, 5 in Australia and a further 18 different countries – Wootton Bassett reported the highest average time spent on the site at 44 minutes per visit, a close second was Bolton at 38 seconds.  West Virginia was the highest from outside the UK at 29 minutes

Four new trustees were appointed, Frieda and Denny Haggart – Brechin, Graham Stephen – Montrose and Ken MacAskill – Edinburgh.  It was noted that Ken was one of the few living relatives of David Waterson and has “unearthed” further works by DW

The same office bearers were appointed and discussions under AOCB revealed that a few private owners of DW’s works had indicated a willingness to donate their DW paintings (in total approx 250) to the people of Brechin adding to those already donated by Mrs Hay and Mr Compton.  Further information will be given at a later date

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