Cordelia Oliver

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Cordelia Oliver (24 April 1923, Glasgow - 1 December 2009) was a Scottish journalist, painter and art critic, noted as an indefatigable promoter of Scottish arts in general and the avant-garde in particular. She worked during 3 politically turbulent decades as The Guardian's Scottish arts correspondent, reporting the optimism she saw in the country's theatre, opera, music, painting and sculpture.[1]

Early life[edit]

Cordelia Patrick was born in Glasgow, the daughter of a merchant navy officer from the Mull of Kintyre. She was educated at Hutchesons' Grammar School and the Glasgow School of Art.


She was one of number of figures who were instrumental in establishing a body of critical writing on contemporary art in the 1960s and 1970s[2] As well as many articles Cordelia Oliver wrote seven books[3] including titles on Joan Eardley, Jessie M King, Bet Low


Oliver attended the Glasgow School of Art[4] She later recalled that

"In the early war years the school had begun to shrink in numbers, staff as well as students being called up for war service. So we juniors could recognise and name most of the older students since we all ate in the same refectory. Even in the early war years the school was greatly enlivened by the occasional presence of conscripted former students on leave. And there remained one or two individuals who for one reason or another had never been 'called up,' two of whom, Davy Donaldson and John Miller, became familiar figures around the place before eventually sliding into permanent staff appointments."[5]


  1. ^ Grigor, Murray (26 January 2010). "Obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 January 2013. 
  2. ^ Thompson, Susannah (2010). The artist as critic : art writing in Scotland 1960-1990. University of Glasgow. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  3. ^ "WorldCat author page for Cordelia Oliver". WorldCat author page for Cordelia Oliver. 
  4. ^ "Glasgow School of Art Archive and Collections biographical note on Cordelia Oliver". Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections. Glasgow School of Art. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  5. ^ Sutherland, Giles. "Art criticism in Scotland and internationally". Retrieved 18 September 2015.