Hew Lorimer (1907 – 1993) is one of Scotland’s best-known sculptors though his work at Whithorn is often overlooked. The creator of some of the most prominent large-scale work of the second half of the twentieth century, in June of 1993 he received a papal knighthood in recognition of his sculptures for the Church.
Awarded the OBE in 1986 for services to architecture and conservation, he had been made an honorary Doctor of Laws at Dundee University three years earlier. One of his major works is the relief panel of the saint on St Francis’ Church in Dundee, completed in the 1940s, and in 1986 he completed a crucifixion for the university chapel, one of his last works.
Other famous works include the seven allegorical figures which decorate the facade of the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, sculpted in their places over three years in the early 1950s. During the same period he completed the 27 feet tall Our Lady of the Isles on South Uist in partnership with Maxwell Allan.
The Whithorn Crucifix was sculpted in 1959 and is sited above the Pilgrimage Altar at the rear of the Roman Catholic Church to SS. Ninian, Martin and John on George Street. The figure of Christ looks out over open fields to the Solway Firth. Sadly it has not weathered well and poor stone cleaning in 1997 has added to the loss of some detail. Despite this the crucifix retains a strong emotional power. Hew Lorimer had completed a similar firgure, the sculpture of Christ the King, for the Dawson mausoleum and Chapel in St Ninian’s Burial Ground, Fochabers.
First published November 2009