James Harvey Clark ARSA 1885-1980
Elected ARSA: 21 March 1934
James Harvey Clark—Jimmie to his colleagues and many friends was born in 1885 and died 25 May 1980. He is therefore a historic figure in that he is the last of the ‘old guard’ of Scottish Sculptors. His progress—long and uphill from the time he left school until the day he set up his own in 1929, is typical of that generation of Scottish Sculptors, admirable in its courage, integrity and thorough- ness.
On leaving school he started a 6-year apprenticeship with that ‘vintage’ Edinburgh printing firm, McLagan and Cumming as a litho-artist. A scholarship award enabled him to study drawing and modelling ‘all day’ at the Academy School and he was one of the first to be transferred to the new Edinburgh College of Art, where he gained the Academy award—the Stewart Prize—for the best figure composition of the year.
After leaving College he worked for two years, to gain practical experience and knowledge of the ‘styles’ in an ornamental sculptor’s studio. Then came the interruption of the 1914-18 War. Having been a territorial in the Lothians and Borders Horse Yeomanry he was at once mobilised. He went to France with them, later being trans- ferred to the Royal Scots. By the end of the War he had become 2nd Lieutenant in the K.O.S.B.
After demobilisation in 1918 he started work again and was Sculptor Assistant to several well-known monumental Sculptors including J. Beattie and J. Hayes and Mrs Alice Meredith Williams, notably while she was occupied upon her distinguished work for the shrine of The Scottish National War Memorial.
He also played a valuable part in the execution of many other War Memorials, including that at Westminster School and the great bronze group for Paisley. In 1929 he set up on his own and designed and carved a variety of mainly heraldic and monumental works for leading Edinburgh architects. He developed meanwhile his own individual sensitive line of figure-work and well observed portrait busts.
In 1936 he was elected an Associate of the R.S.A. of which he proved a most loyal and assiduous Member, exhibiting regularly for many years in the Academy’s Summer Exhibitions, and also in Glasgow, London and Toronto. His work occupied an honoured place in the remarkable Royal Scottish Academy Bi-Centenary photographie display of Scottish Sculptors of the last 200 years.
Gifted, gentle, unassuming, yet firm of character, he will be remembered with affection by all who knew him. I remember with gratitude his calling at my studio when I first set up, to encourage me to send work to the Academy.
RSA Obituary by Hew Lorimer. Transcibed from the 1980 RSA Annual Report