Hospitalfield director retires today

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ONE OF the most passionate supporters of Hospitalfield House and perhaps the one man who has done more than anyone else to put the facility on the international stage, director William (Willie) Payne, retires from his post today (Friday).

A spokesperson for the Patrick Allan-Fraser of Hospitalfield Trust said that the Trust wished to acknowledge the enormous contribution made by Mr Payne over the last 37 years in promoting this unique and historic institution in relation to contemporary arts practice.

She continued: “This work has included the restoring and cataloguing of the building, its collections and the development of an understanding of its position within Scotland’s cultural history. The Trust pays tribute to Mr Payne’s knowledge of Hospitalfield, gathered through years of primary research, and it looks forward to the presentation of this work through a series of forthcoming journals and publications. The Trust wishes him a productive, happy and busy retirement.”

During his years at Hospitalfield, and as a founding member of ResArtis, the global artists’ residency forum, Mr Payne has built up a considerable network of contacts in universities and cultural centres across Europe and North America.

A partnership with the Royal Overseas League has extended this to Australia, Africa and Asia. Hospitalfield’s alumni can be found working all over the globe. A three-year European Commission funded project, in collaboration with Dundee University and art centres in Hungary and Germany, created a dialogue between local community groups and three high profile European arts centres.

A programme of architectural restoration and redevelopment gradually brought the building back to its former splendour and through Mr Payne’s stewardship the building and many of its paintings and contents have been recognised for their true importance and restored. This led to The Trust’s centenary exhibition, of which William was curator at the National Gallery of Scotland in 1990, ‘Hospitalfield: The Collections of Patrick Allan-Fraser’.

Other exhibitions for which he has acted as curator include ‘Francis Place (1647-1728), A Changing Vision of Nature’, for Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, and ‘Burnishing the Lamp of Memory, Documentation and Preservation in the Digital Age’ at The University of Abertay.

Some 21 years ago, a partnership with Alan Steadman created Jazz at Hospitalfield. This is now a leading national venue much loved by the jazz community, and playing to full houses.

A local community collaboration created the award winning Hospitalfield Organic Produce Enterprise (HOPE) which is now a successful project independently managed.

A garden and estates maintenance programme has provided opportunities for local ‘back to work’ training over 30 years, to which staff come back regularly on a voluntary basis.

William Payne was a founder member of The Scottish Society for Art History, is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Abertay and is a Fellow of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries. In 1992 he was a founding member of ResArtis in Berlin.

The Trust will be advertising for a new director in the next weeks to take Hospitalfield into a new chapter, leading arts development and further building partnerships at local level as well as within the wider arts world, while continuing to conserve the building and collection.