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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Elizabeth Strachan Dempster (1909–1987)

A sculptor and carver in wood and stone, she was born in Greenock, but moved to Edinburgh in 1930 after a brief spell living in Kent. She studied under Alexander Carrick at Edinburgh College of Art, where she was part of an outstanding group of students that included Hew Lorimer, Tom Whalen and Scott Sutherland, later completing her studies at the Regent Street Polytechnic, London, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Many of her larger works have been lost, including a colossal plaster mermaid for the Empire Exhibition, Glasgow, 1938, and an oak figure of the Old Testament musician Jubal with a pair of angels for the organ case at St Giles Cathedral (1938–40; removed 1993). An important work that has survived, however, is the group of concrete reliefs of the symbols of the Four Evangelists on the exterior of St Francis Xavier RC Church, Falkirk, 1961, complementing the colossal statue of the saint by Maxwell Allan. She was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1960.

Bibliography: W.T. Johnston, Dictionary of Scottish Artists (c.2000), Scottish National Library, ref CD-ROM.585; P.J.M. McEwan, The Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, 2004; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, pp. 152–53, vol. 2, pp. 308–09, 312, 313.

Ray McKenzie 2018