AN EXHIBITION in the home town of one of Scotland’s best-known painters has opened its doors.

Sir William George Gillies was born in Haddington in 1898 and would go on to teach and inspire generations of Scottish artists at Edinburgh College of Art.

This year marks 50 years since Gillies bequeathed his entire estate to the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA).

It contains hundreds of paintings, many more drawings, and some of his materials, objects, archives, and library.

Since this date, the RSA has furthered Gillies’ legacy through research, publishing and exhibitions, opening his life and art to wider audiences.

Now, the John Gray Centre – just metres from the High Street home in which the artist was born – is hosting William Gillies: Modernism and Nation, a touring exhibition from the RSA, until April 26.

Councillor Colin McGinn, East Lothian Council’s cabinet member for community wellbeing, said: “East Lothian Council is delighted to be working with Royal Scottish Academy to host this exhibition showcasing the work of William Gillies.

“The council is fortunate to hold a small Gillies collection, including a work donated by the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture from the William Gillies Bequest.

“We are proud to be displaying a selection of these works alongside the touring RSA exhibition.

“A varied programme of talks and creative workshops will accompany the exhibition.”

The exhibition focuses on the period until Gillies left Haddington to live in Edinburgh in 1928.

It contains work from his time at Knox Academy and as a student at Edinburgh College of Art, which shows the early influences of impressionism, graphic and academic art.

In 1923, a travelling grant took him to the Paris studio of André Lhote.

This experience opened a door to cubism and the freedoms Modernism could offer to a young and aspiring painter like Gillies.

The exhibition is accompanied and inspired by William Gillies: Modernism and Nation in British Art by Andrew McPherson, a new monograph on the artist published by Edinburgh University Press in partnership with the Royal Scottish Academy.

Providing new evidence about the artist, Mr McPherson shows Gillies, who died in 1973, to be a more complex, astonishing person than previously acknowledged.

Sandy Wood, RSA’s collections curator, said: “We are excited to be bringing this important exhibition to the John Gray Centre.

“Looking out of the window of the gallery, one can see the building on Haddington High Street where Gillies was born, so it’s fitting that a new story about the artist and a major touring exhibition of his work is launched here.

“We hope it inspires new audiences, and the next generation of artists from East Lothian, to follow in his footsteps.”