William Scott was born in Greenock, Scotland, in 1913. In 1924, his family moved to his father’s home town of Enniskillen in Northern Ireland where Scott soon began art classes with a local teacher, Kathleen Bridle. In 1928 he enrolled at the Belfast School of Art, moving to London three years later to take up a place at the Royal Academy Schools, initially in the sculpture department, later moving to painting. He married fellow student Mary Lucas in May 1937 and soon after they travelled to Italy and France, establishing an art school in Pont-Aven with the painter Geoffrey Nelson.
His artistic career developed, continuing to paint and exhibit despite the outbreak of World War Two. On leaving the army, Scott took up the position of Senior Painting Master at the Bath Academy of Art and continued to dedicate much of his time to his own painting, which, at that date, was concerned mainly with the theme of still-life.
An extended visit to North America in the early 1950s resulted in friendships with New York based artists including Rothko and de Kooning. One of the first British artists to be aware of Abstract Expressionism, the work he saw in America made Scott aware of how much his painting was, and would continue to be, tied to a European artistic tradition.
By the mid-1950s Scott’s success as an artist allowed him to give up teaching, although his interests in teaching continued and in 1966 he was awarded a CBE in recognition of his contribution to the arts.
Scott said: “I am an abstract artist in the sense that I abstract. I cannot be called non-figurative while I am still interested in the modern magic of space, primitive sex forms, the sensual and the erotic, disconcerting contours, the things of life.”
On the 28th December 1989, after living with Alzheimer’s disease for several years, Scott died at his home in Somerset