Moira Beaty was born in Prestwick in 1922, and was raised in Glasgow. She went onto complete her first year of drawing & painting at Glasgow School of Art, where she was taught by Hugh Adam Crawford alongside Margot Sandeman and Joan Eardley. After a break to pursue a different path, Moira returned 7 years later to resume her diploma course at GSA, where she met the sculptor Stuart Beaty, who she later married.
Moira, Stuart and their daughter lived in the Scottish borders up until 1989, then onto Kippford, and more recently to Balfron to be nearer to her daughter following Stuart passing away.
Moira has exhibited regurlarly since drawing classes and exhibitions in off-duty time at Bletchley Park in the wartime, and enjoyed a lifetime of painting and exhibiting until she passed away in early 2015.
Early years in Borders Countless exhibitions with artist group, locally in Border towns or in Alnwick, with annual offerings to open city shows, RSW, Glasgow
Institute, Scottish Women Artists (now VAS) of which an elected member
1979-2003 Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh ~ first of nine one-man shows plus a ‘Three Beaty’ Show.
Several thematic exhibitions and annual ‘Small is Beautiful’ Christmas Shows
1980 Llewellyn Alexander Gallery, London (later work collected, shown and sold over the years)
1990 Cadogan Contemporary Gallery, London. ‘Four Scottish Artists’ Manson, Birnie, Bond
1992-2011 Tolquhon Gallery, Ellon. Regular exhibitor
1997 Gracefield Art Centre, Dumfries. ‘Art Now’ The first of many exhibitions arranged by tireless Art Officers, including regular Dumfries shows, travelling group shows and annual Glasgow and London Art Fairs
2000 Riverside Gallery, Stonehaven. First of several shows.
2001 High Street Gallery, Kirkcudbright. First of several shows. ‘Full Circle’ ~ Gracefield Art Centre, Dumfries. Joint retrospective exhibition with Stuart Beaty, sculptor. Scott Gallery, Hawick, requested second showing of retrospective
2004 ‘Three Galloway Artists’ in Church Hall, Kirkcudbright. Two Beaty’s and John Halliday.
2007 ‘Four Women’ at McGill Duncan Gallery, Castle Douglas. Further showing in 2008.
2010 Wallace Arthouse, Leith ~ exhibition with daughter, Ann.
2011 Tolquhon Gallery, Ellon
Obituary taken from The Times, January 29th 2015 (written by Liz Arthur)
Moira Beaty, who has died aged 92, was an accomplished painter who exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy, Royal Glasgow Institute and Scottish Society of Women Artists to which she was elected as a professional member in 1974. Possessed of an acute intelligence, she was gentle, self-effacing and warm, retaining her youthful enthusiasm and sense of fun throughout her long life.
Jessie Moira Munro was born in Prestwick, Ayrshire. She had two younger brothers John and Robin, to whom she was devoted. After the early death of her father, the family moved to Shawlands in Glasgow when Moira was five years old. Their mother worked as manager of the Crossmyloof ice rink where Moira spent many hours after school and became a competent skater. She attended Hutcheson’s Grammar School.
As a child, Moira showed an aptitude for art and was determined to attend Glasgow school of Art. This was discouraged by the school in an academically able pupil, but despite this Moira won a scholarship and enrolled as a student in 1939. She was amount a small group of students identified by Hugh Crawford as being particularly talented. This group included Margo Sandeman and Joan Eardley. However, war intervened and Moira left at the end of the first year to do her bit.
In March 1942 she arrived at Bletchley Park where she joined the group known as ISK (Illicit Signals Knox) as a typist in the machine room. Her boss was Peter Twinn who had recently taken over from Dilwyn Knox (Dilly) who was terminally ill. Twinn and others had been
involved in Knox’s discovery of the make-up and working of the Abwehr Enigma Machine. The German Secret Service Enigma was more complicated than that used by fighting forces and the breaking into the machine code was one of the major successes at Bletchley Park. Moira Beaty demonstrated an ability to identify patterns and hand codes within this machine code in what turned out to be an important message, for which she received the thanks of the Lordships of the Admiralty for her fine work. She then immediately joined the cryptographers breaking the daily codes of Abwehr traffic across Western Europe. She was the only woman in the group of mathematicians, musicians, linguists and scientists.
Work came is spasms with intercepts delivered round the clock. The codes changed each morning and had to be broken by h and. The work was relentless, in eight hour shifts, six days each week, with one week off every three months. This remorseless routine of shift work played havoc with sleep patterns and digestion. However, they always enjoyed as sense of triumph when a code was broken no matter how tired. One cryptographer was a member of the British Chess Champion team and was also a champion bridge player. All shared a love of music and when circumstances allowed they indulged in games of bridge.
Life was Spartan but off duty events and activities were organised. Moira, together with the then director of Courtauld Institute, set up art classes and exhibitions of the work. Eventually she was given a small room to use as a studio. These were intense but heady years but, having signed the Official Secrets Act in 1942, it was not until the late 1980’s that she mentioned Bletchley Park and even then she was reluctant to say much to her family.
When war in Europe ended in May 1945, instead of transferring to work on Japanese traffic, she moved to the Films Division of the Ministry of Information in London, working for its director Jack Beddington before returning to Glasgow in 1947 to resume her studies at the School of Art. There she met Stuart Beaty, a sculptor whom she married in 1952.
After teacher training at Jordanhill College she taught in the Gorbals until moving to Hawick in the Borders where Stuart had begun a long and successful career in textiles. She taught part-time in various local schools and the late 1950’s and 1960’s was a productive period when she exhibited widely in both group and solo exhibitions. Following the birth of her daughter Ann, many of her paintings where of young children, her garden flowers, the rural community and the rolling Border landscape. Asked about her subject matter she replied ‘I just paint my life’.
The family moved to Scaurend, Robertson which became the centre of a busy social life with visiting friends, colleagues, artists, designers, theatre and film people, politicians and even poachers. From 1979 fruitful relations developed with the Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh, Gracefield Arts Centre Dumfries and local galleries in Castle Douglas and Kirkcudbright.
After the death of her husband in 2004, she moved to the Stirlingshire village of Balfron to be near her daughter Ann. There she continued to paint, to solve crosswords and Sudoku puzzles with great determination. She became a regular at weekly life drawing classes at the local studio where she put the younger members to shame with her energy and quality of her drawing. Her final year with a triumph as she had a sell-out retrospective exhibition in the Harbour Gallery, Kirkcudbright, and was represented in the town’s major summer exhibition Glasgow Girls 1920-60 which she opened.
Music once again became of great importance to her as she developed an understanding of the jazz performed by her son-in-law, guitarist Stephen Coutts and his quartet. Only a few weeks before her death she travelled to one of their gigs on Arran and enthused about their performance. At her funeral, the musicians performed two pieces chosen by Moira.