Cable Ship Display

It was probably at Edinburgh that Paine made the acquaintance of Dr. Douglas Strachan (1875-1950) who was appointed Director of Design there in 1908.    Strachan  is  widely considered  to  have  been   ‘the most significant and prolific stained glass artist’ (Gazetteer for Scotland) of the first half of the twentieth century.   A letter to Paine from Strachan in October 1937 reveals that he submitted designs for a Scottish Mark and that these were rejected.   It is clear from his letters that Strachan much admired Paine’s work.   Of the Mark designs he wrote, ‘Your admirable Mark designs – just exactly what was wanted a pattern … , and distinction, and yet the story as plain as a pikestaff: and then to read that they had been turned down – in favour of footling things’.

It would seem that Paine wrote to Strachan in the autumn of 1937 about the Empire Exhibition being planned for the following year in Glasgow.   The policy was to employ only British Artists and that ‘nothing from foreign sources may be shown’.   How this squares with displaying art from imperial possessions is not clear.   It can be surmised from Strachan’s letter in November 1937 that Paine had written concerning foreign influences on British art, evidently referring to Frank Pick’s acceptance of the influence of continental art movements on the design of Underground posters.   Strachan wrote to a friend (unnamed) who was closely associated with the Exhibition and reported his reply:  ‘He thinks Mr. Paine has misunderstood Mr. Pick’s views, and does not agree that Mr. Pick endorses design of continental origin: he states that one of the main points which the Council has made is that industry is dependent to far too great an extent on foreign sources – which is of course begging the question though I am sure he does not see this.’

It may be that Paine was also seeking Strachan’s support for the submission of a stained glass design to the Exhibition.   According to Strachan, the organisers were convinced that there were plenty of Glasgow artists of high calibre and that they had no need to look further.   He wrote, ‘… how maddening that you can’t get your glass set in some church where it could be seen.   What about the Glasgow Exhib. in that connection?   It is, I read somewhere, to have 2 chapels: one Presbyt. tother Pisky (Episcopalian):  and they’ll surely want windows.’    He concludes, ‘… if you would care to make and exhibit a window there I’ll write Bilsland (Sir Alexander Steven Bilsland 1892-1970, member of the executive committee of the Empire Exhibition) about it if you wish and think it worth your while.’

I don’t know if Paine had a stained glass design accepted for the Exhibition but he states in his CV that he ‘designed and carried out the Cable Ship Display at the Glasgow Exhibition and other forms of propaganda for the Postmaster General.’

Cable Ship Display


Detail 1 Cable Ship Exhibition 1938 Paine     Detail 2 Cable Ship Exhibition 1938 Paine

Detail 3 Cable Ship Exhibition 1938 Paine     Detail 4 Cable Ship Exhibition 1938 Paine

Cable Ship Display Paine acrylic original art work     Cable Ship Display Paine acrylic original artwork 2

Cable Ship Display triptych - Copy

British Textile Designers Today described it as ‘a vigorous architectural display’.                  I know nothing more about this work.



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