James Huck

James Huck was born in 1875 in Lasswade and grew up in Galashiels, Scotland. He was one of nine children, the son of Jane Brunton and John Huck a mole catcher. A decendent of the Hucks of Westmorland (Cumbria). He became a successful artist and worked at the Glasgow School of Art becoming Assistant Director in 1926. He was popular with his students and described as down to earth, no-nonsense man. He was a naturist, spiritualist and believed that his family could be traced back to the ark. These unusual ways were hinted at in an article from Glasgow News.

Glasgow News. Glasgow Folk - Mr James Huck, 11 February 1931
'Art is long, and so is the period of training and waiting before success comes with all its laurels. Just now waiting seems to be longer than usual for painting and sculpture and even etchings are regarded luxuries, the first to be sacrificed when hard times come knocking on the door. But longer far than the training and waiting is the backwards look to the origins of design. Mr James Huck, whose teaching methods like his temperament are not conventional, is never more happy than when studying the ideas of ancient Egypt or ancient Greece. He is saturated with the old, though noted for his modernity. It is not by way of conscious contrast, and certainly not out of disrespect for the past. Was there ever a borderer who lacked respect for the past, they are steeped in it from infancy and retain it all their life.
Mr James Huck is of Galashiels. At School he was a good scholar by sheer insistence and a drawer by instinct. As he grew, the educational side of art took hold of him and while still young established in Gala a school of art training which later developed into the South of Scotland Technical College. After Scotland he sought experience in Italy, Paris, Germany, and won high honours in drawing, painting and figure. Then he settled in London but Glasgow called him back to teach in the School of Art and become Assistant Director.
Mr Huck is the favourite of the Literary Society Secretaries, for his lectures, which form one of his chief amassments, are lighted by a quaint humour which throws no shadows upon their essentially educative purpose. With 1200 students from all over Scotland, a man with an open mind learns much of the humour of life by quiet observation, and Mr Huck's mind is an ever-open door.'

Exert from a letter from Ian Monie, Principal Librarian at Glasgow School of Art, 1978
'..Miss V Groundwater, formerly of our Registrar's Office and daughter of a previous Secretary of the School, confirmed that he was a spiritualist and added that his wife was a medium and that he occasionally arranged a seance for the Art School staff. She did not speak of his drinking habits but he did organise a successful poached salmon supper at which each person was served athole brose made to his own recipe.'

Southern Reporter. James Huck's Obituary, 7 March 1940
By the passing of James Huck, Borderland have lost a gifted son. He won national fame as an artist. His success was not thrust apon him, nor engineered by self-boasting, but well merited. He loved the Borderland with a knowledge and passion, and many happy hours he spent in nomadic leisure in Yarrow, where every scene is "an artist's dream of beauty". Mr Huck was very popular with fellow Borderers in Glasgow. We have pleasant memories of meeting him at foregathering of Fishers whose motto is "Behauden to nane".

© Jane McDevitt 2009 | email jane@maraid.co.uk