Alexander Carrick (1882–1966) RSA, FRBS
Alexander Carrick was a son of Archibald Carrick and Elizabeth Leith of Musselburgh. The Carricks had been established blacksmiths for generations, a trade that Alexander’s father and uncle still followed and at which they had a reputation for crafting fine iron golf clubs.
However, Alexander was interested in working with stone and went to work in the yard of William Birnie Rhind where he learnt his trade and craft working on his master’s commissions. He enrolled in the Edinburgh College of Art and on completion in 1905 won a scholarship to study with the Belgium-born sculptor Eduard Lanteri at South Kensington College before working with James Pittendrigh MacGillivray back in Scotland. By 1914 he was exhibiting his own work at the Scottish Academy and the same year he joined the teaching staff of his old college. Along the way Alexander married Janet Macgregor, who he had met at the same college.
By 1916, however, Alexander’s life had taken a sudden change and like countless others he joined the forces and was sent to the Western Front. Alexander served in 30 (Siege) Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery as a gunner operating and maintaining the unit’s eight-inch howitzers. His unit deployed for much of the time in support of the Ypres Salient, one of the most fought over parts of Belgium. The town, held by the allied armies, was overlooked by nearby high ground, occupied by the Germans. In quiet moments Alexander produced drawings of his companions. The sights of the battlefields remained with him and are reflected in the work he undertook and sculpture he created after the war.
He also wrote wonderfully illustrated letters back to his young daughter.
He became head of sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art and was much sought after to create memorials to the war. During 1929 he was voted a full member of the Royal Scottish Academy. His experiences and front line sketches informed his practice and he created figures in both stone and bronze that stand still in communities far and wide and especially within the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle (where visitors also pass his ‘Wallace‘ in a niche by the entrance).
Alexander retired to the Scottish Borders during 1942. He produced a few more pieces, including busts of his grandchildren, but lived quietly until his death in 1966.
We thank John Scott for access to his grandfather’s archive and the illustrations on this page and History 3.1 of Knox Academy, Haddington for all their help and image captions.