Imagined Skies

The Lost Paintings of Tom Gilfillan


Maclaurin Art Gallery
18th August to 29 September, 2013

Early in the research and development period for the Festival the Curators had identified a local artist, Tom Gilfillan, who had worked for Scottish Aviation Limited, and who seemed to have disappeared from view. So had the Royal Aeronautical Society Prestwick, seeking to celebrate their 50th anniversary by exhibiting his work.

The murals he had painted for Orangefield House, Prestwick Airport’s original passenger terminal, had just passed into the possession of South Ayrshire Council, and this was an ideal opportunity to show them for the first time, alongside the magazine covers, Christmas cards and paintings he produced for SAL from his studio in the Palace of Engineering at Prestwick Airport.

The Festival approached the Maclaurin Trust with an exhibition proposal for 2013, and it was accepted. Little was known about Gilfillan: Dianne Gardner of the Trust and Quentin Wilson of the RAeS did some valuable research, turning up prints, water-colours and eventually a picture of him. The exhibition was presented immaculately with a sumptuous catalogue, and attracted a record 4,694 visitors.

Tom Gilfillan 2
Mural, Africa.

Dugald Cameron

A Personal Passion - Landmarks in Aviation in Scotland


Rozelle House
18th August to 13 October 2013


For the centenary of the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1904 Dugald Cameron had produced a publication, From Pilcher to the Planets, with archive photographs and his own paintings, which traced the history of aviation in Scotland. Angela Wrapson proposed that the paintings could form the basis of an exhibition at Rozelle House which would put the Gilfillans, and the Festival, in context.

Ann Bontke, an ex-student of Dugald Cameron, was delighted to develop the proposal, and Dugald created a number of new artworks for the exhibition. Again, it was beautifully presented, with a handsome catalogue, and attracted 2,812 visitors

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Paintings by Debbie Sutherland

Prestwick Airport
5 to 8 September 2013

The Festival used two of Debbie Sutherland’s paintings for its publicity: her portrait of David Fowler McIntyre dressed for the Everest flight for the brochure and leaflets, and Fun in the Sun for the Celluloid Wings poster. She had just completed a painting of the first landing at Prestwick and suggested that it should be unveiled in the context of an exhibition of her work.

The London Lounge at Prestwick Airport was being converted into lecture space for Wings and Words, the forthcoming aviation books and comics festival, and provided potential exhibition space. Aviation Art hung the exhibition and organised an opening reception for 40 people, complete with a piper.

The exhibition was open throughout the weekend of Wings and Words and the Static Aircraft Display, which attracted around 1,500 people. Furthermore, Debbie, a hugely qualified and experienced pilot, spoke on the subject of women in aviation during Celluloid Wings, the aviation film festival, and on her own career as a pilot at Wings and Words.

First Landing at Monkton
The First Landing.

Paintings by Jim Menham

Prestwick Airport
5 to 8 September 2013


Jim Menham was a special needs student at Ayrshire College’s Cumnock Centre with a talent for art and a passion for aviation. His paintings of the four aircraft produced by Scottish Aviation Limited and its successors – Pioneer, Twin Pioneer, Bulldog and Jetstream – were exhibited in the Aviator Suite at the same time as the Debbie Sutherland exhibition.

Materials and framing were funded by Ayrshire College, and the paintings are now in the College’s collection.

Twin Pioneer
Twin Pioneer.