Artist: Tom Gourdie

Date of Birth:
Date of Death:
Place of Death:
Residence in Dumfries & Galloway:

Based for a time in 1941 and 1942 at RAF Dumfries during WW2.


Edinburgh College of Art


Irene Wellington, David Foggie


Artists in Uniform, Art and Industry, March 1943 and March 1944.


Obituary The Scotsman 20/02/2005, Gourdie is rememberd as an author on handwriting and a prolific painter of his native Fife.  His artistic skills were noted at Dumfries and he became involved in camouflage work and the production of three dimensional maps.


Obituary The Herald,15/1/2005


Image, photograph of Tom and Lilias Gourdie on their wedding day, April, 1942.  Photograph by kind permission of the artist’s family. 


Tom Gourdie’s paintings of everyday life at RAF Dumfries provide a unique insight into life at an air station in Dumfries and Galloway during the Second World War.

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Tom Gourdie was born in Cowdenbeath in Fife.  He is celebrated as a leading calligrapher, devoting his adult life to raising standards of handwriting for which he was awarded the MBE at the early age of 46.  However, from his childhood he had begun to draw and paint his surroundings often recording industrial landscapes in his native Fife and elsewhere, which have long since disappeared.

Tom Gourdie’s interest in architecture developed, when at the age of 15 he spent a year in the Fife Coal Company’s architect’s office.  However he returned to school and won a scholarship to Edinburgh College of Art.  After college he spent some time with the map- makers Bartholomew, which was soon to come in very useful.  He joined the RAF in 1940 and had a number of postings during World War 2.  In 1941 he was sent to RAF Dumfries and here he spent his spare time painting.  In October 1942 there was an exhibition of his work, his subjects being aeroplanes, the aerodrome, scenes in the locality and many of his colleagues, who sat for their portrait- a unique record of life at RAF, Dumfries.

In 1943 Tom Gourdie was transferred to the Ministry of Aircraft Production as an artist and was to use his map-making skills in the production of 3D images for the D Day landings.

After the war Tom Gourdie taught first at Banff Academy and then at Kirkcaldy High School before taking early retirement to concentrate on calligraphy.  However, he continued to record the many changes in the world about him, whether on holiday or at home in his native Fife.  Tom Gourdie died in January 2005.