THE SKETCHBOOKS OF JAMES CUMMING RSA

James Cummings Sketchbook c.1971
James Cummings Sketchbook 1972

To view the books, please click on the thumbnails above.

James (Jimmy) Cumming RSA (1922-1991) was born in Dunfermline and began his training at Edinburgh College of Art in 1939, before his studies were interrupted by the Second World War. In 1941 he joined the Royal Air Force and served in India and Burma. After returning to Edinburgh, he was awarded a Travelling Scholarship after completing his studies in 1949. This took him to Lewis and his amazing Hebrideans Series. Cumming returned to ECA as a lecturer in the 1980s, where he became an influential presence and a tutor who was fondly remembered by the students he inspired.

One of the most original artists practising in Scotland in the 20th century, Cumming was elected an Associate RSA Member in 1962 and a Full Member in 1970. Following the Hebrideans, he developed a personal abstraction inspired by the origins of life, symbols and microbiology. The meeting of colour and line, of geometry, structure and mutation were all deep concerns that flowed through his work, while within his still lifes he developed his own Post-Cubist style that created fascinating distillations of objects in pictorial space.

In 2006 the RSA received a significant studio gift from the artist’s family that includes paintings, prints, drawings, studies, studio objects and equipment, a substantial archive, and a group of 14 amazing sketchbooks.