Murray Grigor

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Murray Grigor
Murray Grigor & Board Member Carol Colburn Hogel.jpg
Murray Grigor with Carol Colburn Grigor
Inverness, Scotland
OccupationFilm maker
Years active1967–present
Spouse(s)Barbara Grigor (1968–1994) Carol Grigor (2011-) awards

William Alexander Murray Grigor OBE (born 1939) is a Scottish film maker, writer and exhibition curator who has served as director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. He has made over 50 films with a focus on arts and architecture documentaries.

Early life[edit]

Grigor was born in 1939 in Inverness, and graduated from St. Andrews University. He started his career as a film editor at the BBC which he left in 1967 to become director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.[1] He married, in 1968, Barbara Grigor, née Sternschein, a teacher of French and German, film maker, exhibition curator,and chairman of the Scottish Sculpture Trust with whom he had two daughters, Sarah, b 1970 and Phoebe, b 1972. Barbara Grigor died in 1994.[2] Grigor married Carol Colburn Grigor née Colburn in 2011.


In 2008, Grigor produced seven film loops for Los Angeles' Hammer Gallery exhibition Between Earth and Heaven about the architecture of John Lautner, which coincided with the premiere of his documentary Infinite Space on the same subject.

Since the 1980s, Grigor widened his film focus to cover more international, and particularly American subjects, such as the 1986 landmark 8 part series Pride of Place with Robert A. M. Stern for the American television channel PBS. In 1997, he directed the PBS series "The Face of Russia" with James Billington, the Librarian of Congress. "Contemporary Days" on the British designers Robin and Lucienne Day for Design Onscreen of Denver Colorado, was premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival in February 2011. "Ever to Excel" -a feature documentary with Sir Sean Connery was funded in America to mark the 600th anniversary of the University of St Andrews for its scholarship endowment campaign, and had its British premiere at the 2012 Glasgow Film Festival. It was followed by sequel "Ever to Exceed' celebrating the achievements of St Andrews' students, scholars and alumni.

Grigor also worked as film producer and writer. Together with Barbara Grigor, he founded, in 1972, the film company Viz Ltd based in Inverkeithing, Scotland.[2][3] Grigor has also written screenplays for all his films, and a number of exhibition catalogues to accompany his exhibitions. He was co-author of "The Architects' Architect" on C.R. Mackintosh with Richard Murphy and "Being a Scot" with Sir Sean Connery, published in 2008 and which is now published in 5 languages.[4] "Beatus – The Spanish Apocalypse" on the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages on the Book of Revelation, was invited in competition to the 2015 Montréal Festival du Film sur L'Art – the 4th film Grigor has made in partnership with Hamid Shams, the American Director of Photography.

Appointments and awards[edit]

He was appointed, in 2007, as a member of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission.[5]

Grigor is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and was the first film maker to be made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and the Royal Institute of British Architects. Grigor is Visiting Professor of Film Studies at the Anglia Ruskin University, from which he received, in 2010, an Honorary Doctor of Arts.[6]

Grigor was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to architecture and the film industry.[7]

Selected filmography[edit]

Grigor has directed the following films.[8][9][10]

Year Title Summary
1968 Mackintosh Documentary about 20th century Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh
1970 Fettes Documentary about activities and events at Fettes College, Edinburgh, including a visit by HM The Queen Mother
1972 Space and light Documentary about the newly built St. Peter's Seminary, Cardross, by Scottish architects firm Gillespie, Kidd and Coia
1974 Clydescope Documentary about the river Clyde, from Biggar to Brodick, with Scottish comedian Billy Connolly as guide
1974 Suilven Spring Documentary about the Northwest of Scotland seen through the eyes of a young couple taking a Spring break
1975 The Hand of Adam Documentary about 18th century Scottish architect Robert Adam
1975 Steel upon the Sward Documentary about works of the three sculptors Gerald Laing, Gavin Scobie and Andrew Mylius


1982 Sean Connery's Edinburgh Documentary about Edinburgh presented by Scottish actor Sean Connery
1983 (Portrait of an Artist:) The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright Documentary about 19th/20th century American architect Frank Lloyd Wright featuring the architect's granddaughter, the actress Anne Baxter
1984 Pride of Place 8-part one-hour TV series documentary about American architecture
1990 The Why?sman – In Pursuit of the Question Mark Documentary on the self-styled Sculptor George Wyllie, artist, playwright, poet and Pataphysician. It features his Straw Locomotive (1987) and the Paper Boat, as a requiem for Glasgow's once-great industrial prowess. It also features Wyllie's performance piece, Day Down a Goldmine, with Bill Paterson, an eerie forecast on the collapse of the banking system.
1992 1995 The Architecture of Carlo Scarpa Documentary about 20th century Italian architect Carlo Scarpa, presented by Scottish architect Richard Murphy
1995 In Search of Clarity: The Architecture of Gwathmey Siegel Documentary about 20th century American architects firm Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects
1999 Nineveh on the Clyde: the Architecture of Alexander "Greek" Thomson Documentary about 19th century Scottish architect Alexander "Greek" Thomson
2001 The Work of Angels Documentary on The Book of Kells, Director of photography, Seamus McGarvey,

Producer Louis Lentin for RTE, Ireland and ABC TV, Australia.

2005 Maggie's Centres Documentary about Maggie's Centres, cancer care centres in Britain, inspired by Maggie Keswick Jencks and built by celebrated architects
2005 Sir John Soane: an English architect, an American legacy Documentary about 18th century English architect Sir John Soane and his influence on 20th century American architects
2011 Contemporary Days: the Designs of Lucienne and Robin Day Documentary about the British designers Lucienne and Robin Day[11]
2012 Ever to Excel + "Ever to Exceed" with Hamid Shams Feature-length documentary to mark the 600th anniversary of the University of St Andrews with Sean Connery. Director of photography Hamid Shams, Music composed by Rory Boyle.


  1. ^ "Murray Grigor". Anglia Ruskin University
  2. ^ a b "Obituary: Barbara Grigor". The Independent, 19 October 1994
  3. ^ Later Patrick Higson, his colleague from the BBC joined the company and added considerably to its success. from Viz Ltd. Companies House, UK
  4. ^ "Sean Connery talks to Murray Grigor". Edinburgh International Book Festival 2011
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Biography of Murray Grigor on the website of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission
  6. ^ [1] Citation for Murray Grigor on the website of the Anglia Ruskin University
  7. ^ "No. 60009". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2011. p. 10.
  8. ^ Murray Grigor. Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
  9. ^ Search. National Library for Scotland
  10. ^ [2] Entries for Murray Grigor at the online catalogue in the Scottish Screen Archive, National Library for Scotland
  11. ^ "Contemporary Days: The Designs of Lucienne and Robin Day". Designs on Screen

External links[edit]