Ronald Rae FRSS

Born in Ayr in 1946, Ronald Rae FRSS, Fellow of the Royal Society of Sculpture, began carving aged fifteen. Having staged several solo exhibitions in Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Regents Park, London, The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, and The Falkirk Wheel. Rae now has over fifty outdoor granite sculptures in public and private collections throughout the UK and is on permanent display outside the Scottish Parliament buildings and in Rozelle Park, Ayr.

Compass Gallery has exhibited the work of Ronald Rae since his first exhibition in the gallery back in the 1970s; he has had five solo shows of his paintings and drawings and participated in numerous mixed shows. Rae’s sculptures often feature biblical themes such as ‘The Tragic Sacrifice’, Rozelle Park; ‘The Good Samaritan’, Glenrothes, unveiled by HRH King Charles III; ‘St Francis’, NTS Threaves Gardens near Dumfries; and ‘The Fallen Christ’, Island of Iona. Many of Rae’s animal sculptures are of endangered species for example his 20 tonne ‘Lion of Scotland’ which was loaned to St Andrews Square, Edinburgh and his ‘Baby Elephant’ which was on exhibition in Edinburgh’s West End.

Rae began drawing on the pages of large family bibles after being inspired by a visit to see the illustrated manuscripts, The Book of Kells, in Dublin in 2003. As a sculptor he liked the bulk of bibles and looked on them not just as a secure home for his drawings but as an object. He also liked the idea of holding a lifetime of drawings in his hand - and having a tiny studio they took up less space. He now has a collection of bibles (eight large and six small), atlases, dictionaries, music scores, books on art, fashion, architecture and landscape responding directly to each page and creating images that vary from spiritual, comic, surreal, figurative to abstract. The books range in scale and age. Some are antiquarian including bibles he has collected from overseas or childhood books that his mother gave to him. The drawings have intensity, some pages have been so furiously worked that his pen has made a hole in the page. The end result is something all together unique and epic.

Working in parallel with his sculpture the drawings allow him to channel his creative energies when the mental and physical demands of carving hard granite, becomes too demanding. However his books are by no means a secondary or ‘easier’ alternative. They demonstrate the same dedication and passion demanded by stone. They are deeply personal yet universal and emotive in their reference to political issues and beliefs and doubts about religion.