Angus Rands (1922-1985) was born in Menston, near Ilkley, but lived the latter part of his life in Harrogate. He was a painter, working originally in watercolour, but later preferring pastels: “Filthy stuff to work with, but it never fades”, he said. He specialised in painting town and landscape scenes, particularly of the Yorkshire Dales – to which he had a special affinity – and the Yorkshire Wolds.
He served in the RAF during WW2 and whilst on a troopship to Africa began to sketch and paint places he remembered in Yorkshire. Later, in a Services Club in Cairo, after reading some back numbers of ‘The Artist’ containing instructional articles on painting, he began to refine his work and painted many scenes of the Nile during his two years service in Egypt. He later, before his discharge, had some tuition at the RAF School of Arts and Crafts at Heliopolis.
After his discharge from the RAF, and on returning to Yorkshire, he worked initially as a company representative for the French pharmaceutical company, Bengue. But, still with a taste for art, he gained private art tuition from the Yorkshire artist, Joseph Appleyard (1908-1960). In the early 1950s he submitted three watercolours to the Dalesman, who accepted them all for publication. Over the next 30 years the Dalesman regularly published copies of his paintings.
Angus also exhibited paintings at the 1946 Autumn Exhibition at the Leeds Art Centre. The art critic of the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, who was otherwise critical of the general standard of work on display, singled Angus out for special praise:
Angus Rands, a newcomer, has brought back pictorial reminiscences of his service abroad, which reveals a keen eye and an ability to transfer his impressions to canvas.
Source: YP&LI 30/11/1946
Angus also attended part-time art classes at Swarthmore Adult Education Centre in Leeds, later teaching art part-time there. In his early forties he quit his employment for freelance work as a professional artist. He painted prolifically and many of his works still appear at auction today.
After an exhibition of his work in 1974, the art critic for the Yorkshire Post wrote:
Mr Rands … is an accomplished interpreter of the Northern Dales, with a special gift for capturing changes in colour and atmosphere. The time of year, the time of day, and the weather are as important to him as the landscape itself. (YP 12.08.1974)
In addition to regional shows, Angus exhibited in London at Pastel Society shows, and exhibitions of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colour, and the New English Art Club. He was an elected member of the Federation of British Artists, and of the Pastel Society.
For many years he also staged an annual collection of his work at the Crown Hotel, Harrogate, and The Mercer Gallery in Harrogate has one of his paintings (see below) in its permanent collection. The GPO used a watercolour of Robin Hood’s Bay by him as a savings poster.
Talking to the Daleman in April 1959 of the way he selected scenes to paint, he said that in addition to an attractive foreground: “I like to portray twenty or thirty miles of distant view in the background.” He also put a time limit on the production of his larger watercolours: “To take more than two hours is to produce a laboured effect – and also to produce boredom in the painter!”
He wrote articles for The Artist and Leisure Painter and led painting classes for adults at venues across Yorkshire, including at Robin Hood’s Bay and in Grassington.
Referring to himself as ‘an outdoor man’, who told the Yorkshire Post that he ‘only puts up with living in Harrogate because it is a good [art] selling centre’. “Harrogate is like a good-looking woman who is absolutely frigid”, he said. As an ‘antidote’, he built a low drystone wall in his suburban front garden with stones from the Dales (YP. 10.02.1982).
Toward the end of his life he spoke of his lack of a full-time art education, and how this had initially bothered him, feeling that he had missed out on the interchange of ideas in a good art college:
I would have preferred to have gone [full-time] to art college. But I don’t think I am any worse – perhaps I am better in some ways – for not having gone. I have had to find things out for myself. If someone has strong artistic vision, I think it will come through in the end.*
Source: Yorkshire Post 10/02/1982
Read also the artist describing his painting process at Angus Rands: ‘My Art’