A member of the Highland aristocracy is not only selling some of her prized art collection for charity, she is applying brushstrokes of her own by helping to paint the venue.
Cathryn, Lady Cawdor, rolled up her sleeves yesterday to help paint the walls of the old primary school in Cawdor’s Main Street in readiness for the sale next month.
Approximately 200 framed pictures – an eclectic mix of prints, drawings, watercolours and oils, dating from the 18th-20th centuries from her private collection – will be sold to benefit two charities close to her heart, Marie Curie and Canine Partners.
Lady Cathryn, 85, said: “I’m very keen on these two charities and they inspired me to come up with this idea.
“I’ve managed to collect so many pictures over the years as I used to live in a house with long, long passages and my five children had a bedroom each, so rather than put up wallpaper, I thought I’d buy pictures.
“I went to quite a lot of galleries and if I liked something, and I could afford it, I bought it and hung it on the wall.
“One of my sons was at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and if there was an exhibition of the students’ pictures, I would wander round and see their work. If I liked a painting and it didn’t have a red sticker on, I used to buy it.
“Quite a lot in the collection are also drawn and painted by Victorian ladies. They all learned to paint and draw because they didn’t have much else to do.”
Lady Cathryn explained why the two charities mean so much to her.
“At Canine Partners, dogs are trained to look after people in wheelchairs, not only in a domestic setting, but soldiers who have been injured need them too. They are absolutely amazingly well-trained.
“A great friend of mine, Thomas Hughes-Hallett, used to be the head of Marie Curie. He did such a lot of work for them and really put the charity into the public eye.”
She said she received a lot of help to organise the exhibition from Victor and Celia Laidlaw.
“Without them I just couldn’t have done this. Celia has looked into the background of all the paintings – who painted them, why I bought them and so on. It’s a very eclectic bunch of pictures.
“But my favourites are by Paul César Helleu who was a French artist. He painted gorgeous ladies with beautiful hair and hats. I bought 11 of them and I’m selling nine.”
The sale will be held at the old primary school in Cawdor from 10am-4pm on Saturday, June 17 and from 11am-4pm on Sunday, June 18.