The collection was the brainchild of Mr James H Tyre, Art Advisor for Argyll County Council (later Argyll and Bute District Council) 1960-1988, who purchased a variety of artworks as a valuable resource for schools. He achieved this with support from the author Naomi Mitchison who traveled extensively in Africa and Asia, purchasing artworks and shipping them back to Argyll as well as accessing artworks from British galleries and artists. The Argyll Collection was the first of its type to be set up by an education authority in Scotland.
This body of work showcases the output of several artists with a longstanding, credible and critical reputation. The works cover a range of media including acrylic, charcoal, embroidery, engraving, etching, gouache, lithography, oil, pastel, pencil, procion dye, screenprint, monoprint, watercolour, woodcut, ceramic, bronze and woodcarving.
At the time of its inception it was believed that young people in the area did not have the same access to museums and galleries as their contemporaries in other parts of the country. the aim of the collection was to redress this situation by allowing young people direct access to a wide variety of quality art. The works would become an important teaching aid which would allow students the experience of viewing and connecting with genuine art.
Originally the collection was divided into eleven mini-exhibitions, the intention being that the work would tour annually between the ten secondary schools in Argyll and Bute. This busy rotation of work did take place for several years but lack of finance and resources meant that the work eventually stopped circulating. The collection remained in cupboards and walls of schools and council offices and over the years ceased being the resource it was initially intended to be.
Click here to see examples of substandard framing at the start of the project.


For some time there has been a growing desire to reinstate the Argyll Collection to its former position as a valuable teaching aid. With this aim in mind the Creative Arts in Schools Team (CAST) successfully applied for and received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and with a contribution from Argyll and Bute Council, undertook to renovate and relaunch the collection. This work began in November 2009 led by project coordinator Alicia Hendrick. The collection was uplifted from schools and offices all over the region and transported to a central location by an expert removal company. It was then professionally valued, documented, surveyed and reframed with conservation and restoration where possible. The following professionals were contracted to carry out work on the renovation and sincere thanks go to them for embracing their tasks so readily.

MacQueen Bros. – removals
Alan Dimmick – photographer
Brian McLaughlin – conservator (oils)
Helen Creasey – conservator (works on paper)
Jan Fraser – framer
Mark Medcalf – valuer

Click on the image below to view a gallery of images taken during the renovation process.



CAST felt it was important to celebrate the renovation of the collection with an exhibition. It was decided to approach His Grace The Duke of Argyll to investigate the possibility of holding the exhibition within Inveraray Castle. The Duke and his staff readily agreed to the idea and planning began for hanging a selection of works throughout the castle.
A large number of invited guests, which included some of the contributing artists and His Grace the Duke of Argyll, attended the very successful relaunch of The Argyll Collection in the castle on 11th May 2011. 72 pieces of work were exhibited throughout the castle which proved to be a fitting venue for this prestigious collection.

Visitors comments from the opening:
“Wonderful to see such an exciting collection – a real inspiration – thank you for all the hard work involved.”
“A great collection and a wonderful idea.”
“Excellent resource, great to have it at last! Thanks.”
“Superb collection and today’s exhibition exceedingly well presented. Argyll and Bute – hold on to this resource!”
“Some of the finest work from a great period for painting, printmaking and Scotland.”
“A testimony to more enlightened times!”
“A great collection displayed beautifully in a wonderful castle.”
“A great effort by the team and worth all of it. Great exhibition and wonderful and enriching concept of children being given the opportunity to discuss, share and explore the works of art and artists, Well done!”
“Lovely to see such quality work restored and displayed. A treat for us and the school kids to come.”
“Wonderfully displayed. We can feel proud of this collection. Thanks to everyone for their hard work.”

Following the exhibition, the artworks will be redistributed to the 10 secondary schools and libraries in Argyll & Bute divided into mini-exhibitions to be rotated annually. The principal teachers of art in each school have selected works to form these collections which will then be used as a teaching aid covering a variety of media. This website is the final part of the relaunch and will be used to enhance the teaching opportunities offered by having the original artworks to hand.

The following were involved in the relaunch and our thanks go to them for helping create such a successful event.
Miller’s Art Shop – easels
Stephen McNally – web site designer
Wee Beauty – event photography
Marjory Walker – event catering
Staff of Inveraray Castle and Colgrain Education Office

Click on the image below to view a gallery of images taken during the relaunch exhibition.