"the friendliest club in town....come along for a visit..."
A haven for artists in the heart of the city
The Club was founded in 1873 by a group of artists. For twenty years they met in a series of premises around the West End of Edinburgh, including rooms in George Street and Castle Street. In 1894, the building at 24 Rutland Square was purchased by the Scottish Arts Club as a meeting place for men involved in all arts disciplines. (Women members were eventually admitted, following contentious debate, in 1982.) The full purchase price of the property was £2100 and the Members took out a loan of £1600 which was eventually repaid from the proceeds of sales of their works.
'Lay' members (those not professionally engaged in the arts) were welcomed from the beginning, the first lay member being Sir Patrick Geddes, a prominent zoologist who went on to become an important influence in town planning.
A booklet on the Scottish Arts Club that was produced in 1894 stated, 'The dignity and moral responsibility of Art in all its forms may stimulate many to strong effect, and some to great achievements.' Indeed, the Club includes many luminaries among its former and current members. Former Members include fine artists, Sir Joseph Noel Paton, William Mctaggart, Stanley Cursiter and Robin Philipson; sculptors, C D’O Pilkington Jackson, Alexander Carrick, Andrew Dods, Hew Lorimer, Benno Schotz and Norman Forrest; photographers, Edward Drummond Young, George Balmain and Paul Shillabeer; architects, Robert Lorimer and Sir Basil Spence; writers, George Gregory Smith, George Saintsbury, Sir Compton Mackenzie, George Scott Moncrieff, Eric Linklater, Nigel Tranter and Tom Fleming; poets, Edwin Muir, Norman MacCaig, Sydney Goodsir Smith and Hugh MacDairmid, among many others.
Authors Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin and composer John McLeod are among eminent current members.
The Scottish Arts Club has long been affiliated with several London clubs and more than 30 others in the UK and abroad. Members may access full information through the Member's Pages.