Scottish Artists in an Age of Radical Change by Bill Hare sampler

The visual arts throughout the post-war era have made an invaluable contribution to the cultural development of modern and contemporary Scotland. Joan Eardley, Alan Davie, Eduardo Paolozzi, Ian Hamilton Findlay, Boyle Family, Craigie Aitchison, Barbara Rae, John Bellany, Alexander Moffat, John McLean, Bill Scot, Joyce Cairns, Steven Campbell, Ken Currie, Lys Hansen, Alison Watt, Douglas Gordon and Kevin Harman – these are some of the artists whose work reflects the radical and complex transformations of the post-war period. These Scottish artists not only observed and absorbed the socio-economic and technological changes taking places during this era, but also devised a wide range of innovative ways to represent and creatively re-present those changes and their powerful impact on our times. Through a compilation of in-depth interviews with the artists themselves and accompanying critical essays, Bill Hare here examines the richly diverse work of these important figures in modern and contemporary visual culture, revealing the intellectual power and artistic imagination of those who have created one of the greatest eras in the history of Scottish art.

The visual arts throughout the post-war era have made an invaluable contribution to the cultural development of modern and contemporary Scotland.

Joan Eardley, Alan Davie, Eduardo Paolozzi, Ian Hamilton Findlay, Boyle Family, Craigie Aitchison, Barbara Rae, John Bellany, Alexander Moffat, John McLean, Bill Scot, Joyce Cairns, Steven Campbell, Ken Currie, Lys Hansen, Alison Watt, Douglas Gordon and Kevin Harman – these are some of the artists whose work reflects the radical and complex transformations of the post-war period. These Scottish artists not only observed and absorbed the socio-economic and technological changes taking places during this era, but also devised a wide range of innovative ways to represent and creatively re-present those changes and their powerful impact on our times.

Through a compilation of in-depth interviews with the artists themselves and accompanying critical essays, Bill Hare here examines the richly diverse work of these important figures in modern and contemporary visual culture, revealing the intellectual power and artistic imagination of those who have created one of the greatest eras in the history of Scottish art.


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ill hare was born <strong>in</strong> Ed<strong>in</strong>burgh <strong>in</strong> 1944 <strong>an</strong>d studied at the<br />

University <strong>of</strong> Ed<strong>in</strong>burgh <strong>an</strong>d the Courtauld Institute <strong>of</strong> Art,<br />

University <strong>of</strong> London, <strong>in</strong> the 1970s. S<strong>in</strong>ce then he has taught<br />

art history at the University <strong>of</strong> Ed<strong>in</strong>burgh, Ed<strong>in</strong>burgh College<br />

<strong>of</strong> Art <strong>an</strong>d the Open University. In 1985 he was appo<strong>in</strong>ted<br />

Exhibitions Org<strong>an</strong>iser at the Talbot Rice Gallery work<strong>in</strong>g<br />

with m<strong>an</strong>y <strong>Scottish</strong> artists as well as those from wider afield.<br />

S<strong>in</strong>ce 1995 he has concentrated on teach<strong>in</strong>g <strong>an</strong>d freel<strong>an</strong>ce curat<strong>in</strong>g, with<br />

his ma<strong>in</strong> focus on <strong>Scottish</strong> art s<strong>in</strong>ce 1945. He has curated a number <strong>of</strong> import<strong>an</strong>t<br />

exhibitions both <strong>in</strong> Scotl<strong>an</strong>d <strong>an</strong>d abroad, <strong>an</strong>d has published books<br />

<strong>an</strong>d catalogues on a r<strong>an</strong>ge <strong>of</strong> different aspects <strong>of</strong> historical, modern <strong>an</strong>d<br />

contemporary <strong>Scottish</strong> art. He is currently <strong>an</strong> Honorary Fellow <strong>in</strong> <strong>Scottish</strong><br />

art history at the University <strong>of</strong> Ed<strong>in</strong>burgh.

By the same author:<br />

Contemporary Pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> Scotl<strong>an</strong>d, Craftsm<strong>an</strong> House, 1992<br />

Divided Selves: The <strong>Scottish</strong> Self-potrait from the 17th Century to the<br />

Present, Flem<strong>in</strong>g Collection, 2006<br />

Barbara Rae, Lund Humphries, 2008<br />

Fac<strong>in</strong>g the Nation: The Portraiture <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>an</strong>der M<strong>of</strong>fat, Luath Press, 2018

<strong>Scottish</strong> <strong>Artists</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>an</strong> <strong>Age</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Radical</strong> Ch<strong>an</strong>ge<br />

1945 to the 21st century<br />

<strong>in</strong>terviews <strong>an</strong>d essays <strong>by</strong><br />


First published 2019<br />

Repr<strong>in</strong>ted 2022<br />

isbn: 978-1-80425-017-4<br />

The author’s right to be identified as author <strong>of</strong> this book<br />

under the Copyright, Designs <strong>an</strong>d Patents Act 1988 has been asserted.<br />

The paper used <strong>in</strong> this book is produced us<strong>in</strong>g susta<strong>in</strong>ably sourced, natural<br />

<strong>an</strong>d renewable material which is 100% recyclable <strong>an</strong>d biodegradable <strong>an</strong>d<br />

elementary chlor<strong>in</strong>e free <strong>in</strong> its pulp <strong>an</strong>d bleach<strong>in</strong>g process.<br />

Pr<strong>in</strong>ted <strong>an</strong>d bound <strong>by</strong><br />

Robertson Pr<strong>in</strong>ters, Forfar<br />

Typeset <strong>in</strong> 10.5 po<strong>in</strong>t Sabon <strong>by</strong><br />

Ma<strong>in</strong> Po<strong>in</strong>t Books, Ed<strong>in</strong>burgh<br />

© <strong>Bill</strong> <strong>Hare</strong> 2019

I would like to dedicate this book to my wife, Margaret Mary

Contents<br />

Preface to the Second Edition 9<br />

Foreword <strong>by</strong> Pr<strong>of</strong>essor Andrew Patrizio 11<br />

Introduction:<br />

<strong>Scottish</strong> <strong>Artists</strong> after 1945 15<br />

Section One Four Post-War <strong>Artists</strong> 21<br />

Al<strong>an</strong> Davie 23<br />

Jo<strong>an</strong> Eardley 38<br />

William Turnbull 43<br />

Eduardo Paolozzi 56<br />

Section Two Five Counter-Culture <strong>Artists</strong> 63<br />

I<strong>an</strong> Hamilton F<strong>in</strong>lay 65<br />

Boyle Family: Mark, Jo<strong>an</strong> Hills, Sebasti<strong>an</strong> <strong>an</strong>d Georgia 73<br />

Section Three Two Figurative Pa<strong>in</strong>ters 86<br />

Alex<strong>an</strong>der M<strong>of</strong>fat 88<br />

Jock McFadyen 99<br />

Section Four Four Abstract Pa<strong>in</strong>ters 105<br />

Fred Pollock 106<br />

John McLe<strong>an</strong> 113<br />

Russell Colombo 120<br />

Ia<strong>in</strong> Robertson 124<br />

Section Five Three Independent <strong>Artists</strong> 128<br />

Craigie Aitchison 130<br />

Fr<strong>an</strong>ces Walker 136<br />

Barbara Rae 141

Section Six Two Sculptors 149<br />

<strong>Bill</strong> Scott 150<br />

Doug Cocker 154<br />

Section Seven Three Expressionist Pa<strong>in</strong>ters 163<br />

Lys H<strong>an</strong>sen 165<br />

John Bell<strong>an</strong>y 171<br />

Joyce Cairns 177<br />

Section Eight Two Socio-Political <strong>Artists</strong> 184<br />

John Kirkwood 185<br />

Fred Crayk 190<br />

Section N<strong>in</strong>e Five Male Figurative Pa<strong>in</strong>ters 196<br />

Steven Campbell 198<br />

Henry Kondracki 206<br />

Ken Currie 210<br />

Peter Thomson 218<br />

Paul Reid 223<br />

Section Ten Three Female Figurative Pa<strong>in</strong>ters 230<br />

June Redfern 232<br />

Helen Flockhart 237<br />

Alison Watt 243<br />

Section Eleven Four Neo-Dadaist/Conceptual <strong>Artists</strong> 250<br />

Robert Callender 252<br />

Matthew Inglis 256<br />

Douglas Gordon 264<br />

Kev<strong>in</strong> Harm<strong>an</strong> 270<br />

Timel<strong>in</strong>e 275<br />

Select Bibliography 283<br />

Acknowledgements 287

Preface to the Second Edition<br />

9<br />

As author <strong>of</strong> <strong>Scottish</strong> <strong>Artists</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>an</strong> <strong>Age</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Radical</strong> Ch<strong>an</strong>ge: 1945 to the<br />

21st Century, I am delighted that my book is go<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to a second edition.<br />

It is gratify<strong>in</strong>g to f<strong>in</strong>d that there are a large number <strong>of</strong> people – readers<br />

<strong>an</strong>d art lovers – who are <strong>in</strong>terested <strong>in</strong> <strong>an</strong>d admire <strong>Scottish</strong> modern <strong>an</strong>d<br />

contemporary art, <strong>an</strong>d wish to know more about it. I put a great deal<br />

<strong>of</strong> the success <strong>of</strong> this publication down to the fact that, with the m<strong>an</strong>y<br />

<strong>in</strong>terviews found throughout the book, the reader appreciates the direct<br />

access to the <strong>in</strong>valuable primary source <strong>of</strong> the artists themselves. I also<br />

hope that my <strong>in</strong>terpretive essays help to enlighten the reader on the nature<br />

<strong>an</strong>d signific<strong>an</strong>ce <strong>of</strong> <strong>Scottish</strong> art created s<strong>in</strong>ce the Second World War.<br />

In terms <strong>of</strong> content <strong>an</strong>d presentation there is little ch<strong>an</strong>ge from the first<br />

to the second edition <strong>of</strong> this book. It is only with the cover that there is<br />

a marked differentiation between the two editions. The second has been<br />

brought out <strong>in</strong> s<strong>of</strong>tback <strong>an</strong>d displays a different image from the first. It is<br />

on this difference <strong>in</strong> the choice <strong>of</strong> cover image that I would like to say a<br />

few words.<br />

The cover image for the first<br />

edition was taken from Boyle<br />

Family’s World Series; <strong>in</strong> this<br />

case, the only <strong>Scottish</strong> site from<br />

the 1,000 sites created for their<br />

epic global project. The reason<br />

for the choice <strong>of</strong> Barra, Elemental<br />

Study (Rippled S<strong>an</strong>d with Worm<br />

Casts) (1992–3) was based on the<br />

idea that when people picked up<br />

the book, they should feel that<br />

they had a little bit <strong>of</strong> Scotl<strong>an</strong>d<br />

<strong>in</strong> their h<strong>an</strong>ds. The cover image<br />

for the second edition, although<br />

hopefully just as attractive <strong>an</strong>d<br />

<strong>in</strong>trigu<strong>in</strong>g as the first – Kev<strong>in</strong><br />

Harm<strong>an</strong>’s No M<strong>an</strong>’s L<strong>an</strong>d (2016)<br />

– clearly has a different feel to it.<br />

When these two works are<br />

compared there are strik<strong>in</strong>g differences, but also similarities. Start<strong>in</strong>g<br />

with the latter, if you know <strong>an</strong>yth<strong>in</strong>g about the work <strong>of</strong> Boyle Family<br />

<strong>an</strong>d Kev<strong>in</strong> Harm<strong>an</strong>, you will be aware that the role <strong>of</strong> ch<strong>an</strong>ce plays a<br />

considerable role <strong>in</strong> both their practice. For <strong>in</strong>st<strong>an</strong>ce, the locations <strong>of</strong> the<br />

1,000 sites <strong>in</strong> the Boyles’ World Series were found <strong>by</strong> <strong>in</strong>vit<strong>in</strong>g a thous<strong>an</strong>d<br />

particip<strong>an</strong>ts to throw a dart at a gi<strong>an</strong>t world map bl<strong>in</strong>dfolded. Thus it was<br />

ch<strong>an</strong>ce, not premeditated design, which acted as the guid<strong>in</strong>g h<strong>an</strong>d. Kev<strong>in</strong><br />

Harm<strong>an</strong>’s ongo<strong>in</strong>g series <strong>of</strong> abstract pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>gs are also produced <strong>in</strong> a very

10<br />

unorthodox m<strong>an</strong>ner. These works are not the conventional pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>gs on<br />

c<strong>an</strong>vas, but are made <strong>by</strong> a radically different method. Us<strong>in</strong>g as his framed<br />

support large <strong>an</strong>d extremely heavy double-glazed w<strong>in</strong>dows, the artist,<br />

with the help <strong>of</strong> a strong assist<strong>an</strong>t, pours layers <strong>of</strong> different coloured<br />

liquid pa<strong>in</strong>t down between the two p<strong>an</strong>es <strong>of</strong> w<strong>in</strong>dow glass. Then, aga<strong>in</strong><br />

with much assist<strong>an</strong>ce, he arduously m<strong>an</strong>ipulates the w<strong>in</strong>dow around<br />

<strong>in</strong>to various positions <strong>in</strong> order to allow the pa<strong>in</strong>t <strong>in</strong>side the glass to f<strong>in</strong>d<br />

its own colour comb<strong>in</strong>ations. Thus, like Boyle Family who start with<br />

completely unknown sites, Harm<strong>an</strong> adapts to <strong>an</strong>d improvises with all the<br />

unforeseen <strong>an</strong>d unpredictable ch<strong>an</strong>ce elements <strong>in</strong> the process <strong>of</strong> mak<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong><br />

his pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

There is, on the other h<strong>an</strong>d, a marked difference <strong>in</strong> the presentation<br />

between the works <strong>of</strong> Boyle Family <strong>an</strong>d Kev<strong>in</strong> Harm<strong>an</strong>. One <strong>of</strong> the<br />

fundamental aims <strong>of</strong> Boyle Family’s art is to reproduce the physical<br />

world as accurately <strong>an</strong>d accessibly as possible. So when viewers st<strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong><br />

front one <strong>of</strong> their amaz<strong>in</strong>gly realistic relief p<strong>an</strong>els it seems as if a small<br />

portion <strong>of</strong> the world’s surface is laid bare before them for their direct<br />

<strong>an</strong>d un<strong>in</strong>terrupted scrut<strong>in</strong>y. In contrast, <strong>by</strong> the very fact that Harm<strong>an</strong>’s<br />

pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>gs are created beh<strong>in</strong>d glass, me<strong>an</strong>s that there is a tr<strong>an</strong>sparent<br />

barrier between the viewer <strong>an</strong>d the image. In the case <strong>of</strong> No M<strong>an</strong>’s L<strong>an</strong>d,<br />

Leonbattista Alberti’s <strong>an</strong>alogy <strong>of</strong> a pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g be<strong>in</strong>g a w<strong>in</strong>dow is literally<br />

true!<br />

The differences between these works, <strong>by</strong> two <strong>of</strong> the most <strong>in</strong>novative<br />

<strong>Scottish</strong> artists from different post-war generations, do raise the perennial<br />

crucial question – should artists strive to eradicate the dist<strong>in</strong>ction between<br />

reality <strong>an</strong>d art, as with the case the ultra-realism <strong>of</strong> Boyle Family; or,<br />

as with the abstract w<strong>in</strong>dow pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> Kev<strong>in</strong> Harm<strong>an</strong>, should art be<br />

autonomous, separate <strong>an</strong>d protected from the world around it? All that<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g said, hopefully, you will f<strong>in</strong>d the appear<strong>an</strong>ce <strong>of</strong> both these works<br />

equally attractive <strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong>trigu<strong>in</strong>g as cover images.<br />

<strong>Bill</strong> <strong>Hare</strong><br />

August 2022

Foreword<br />

Andrew Patrizio<br />

11<br />

it is a privilege to <strong>of</strong>fer some open<strong>in</strong>g remarks on what is a special <strong>an</strong>d<br />

much needed new book, one that br<strong>in</strong>gs together <strong>in</strong> one place m<strong>an</strong>y<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Bill</strong> <strong>Hare</strong>’s writ<strong>in</strong>gs on <strong>Scottish</strong> art. The r<strong>an</strong>ge, vision <strong>an</strong>d quality,<br />

exemplified <strong>in</strong> <strong>an</strong> extensive set <strong>of</strong> texts burst<strong>in</strong>g with ideas <strong>an</strong>d passionate<br />

<strong>in</strong>tensity, is sure to <strong>in</strong>spire new generations <strong>of</strong> writers <strong>an</strong>d curators, as<br />

it did me when I had the good fortune to work with <strong>Bill</strong> at the Talbot<br />

Rice Gallery <strong>in</strong> the 1980s. He was then Exhibitions Org<strong>an</strong>iser at the<br />

University <strong>of</strong> Ed<strong>in</strong>burgh’s prestigious gallery <strong>an</strong>d I was <strong>an</strong> undergraduate,<br />

then research student, need<strong>in</strong>g gallery experience <strong>an</strong>d money. What I got<br />

though was daily <strong>in</strong>spiration from <strong>Bill</strong>, as we mirror-plated pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>gs,<br />

heaved sculptures up the tight stairs, visited artist studios <strong>an</strong>d put<br />

together catalogues. As we c<strong>an</strong> read <strong>in</strong> this collection sp<strong>an</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g over four<br />

decades, his curiosity is endless, his historical awareness is acute <strong>an</strong>d his<br />

enthusiasm is <strong>in</strong>fectious.<br />

<strong>Bill</strong> <strong>Hare</strong> cuts a dist<strong>in</strong>ctive, not to say unique, pr<strong>of</strong>ile <strong>in</strong> <strong>Scottish</strong> art<br />

<strong>in</strong> the ways he has blended curatorial work, teach<strong>in</strong>g, journalism, art<br />

history <strong>an</strong>d visual arts citizenship with<strong>in</strong> Scotl<strong>an</strong>d. (He’s <strong>an</strong> example par<br />

excellence <strong>of</strong> how to forge someth<strong>in</strong>g me<strong>an</strong><strong>in</strong>gful over a diverse portfolio<br />

career – meet<strong>in</strong>g with gusto the k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> challenge that faces younger<br />

generations <strong>in</strong> today’s difficult cultural labour market.) Scotl<strong>an</strong>d’s art<br />

l<strong>an</strong>dscape has been populated <strong>by</strong> some signific<strong>an</strong>t characters over the<br />

20th century but I c<strong>an</strong>not th<strong>in</strong>k <strong>of</strong> <strong>an</strong>yone who has excelled <strong>in</strong> these<br />

roles <strong>in</strong> quite this way <strong>an</strong>d kept the loyalty <strong>an</strong>d camaraderie <strong>of</strong> numerous<br />

contemporary <strong>Scottish</strong> artists. There are some general characteristics<br />

<strong>an</strong>d persistent themes that re-emerge <strong>in</strong> <strong>Bill</strong>’s writ<strong>in</strong>g <strong>an</strong>d are worthy <strong>of</strong><br />

comment. He <strong>of</strong>ten uses as a touchstone <strong>an</strong>d start<strong>in</strong>g po<strong>in</strong>t the traditional<br />

notion <strong>of</strong> the artistic genre, <strong>in</strong> order to reflect on how <strong>an</strong> artistic practice<br />

might be understood. C<strong>an</strong> it be located with<strong>in</strong> portraiture, l<strong>an</strong>dscape,<br />

history pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g or still life? What <strong>in</strong>herent concepts with<strong>in</strong> each genre<br />

might the artist be adopt<strong>in</strong>g, honour<strong>in</strong>g, modify<strong>in</strong>g, tr<strong>an</strong>sform<strong>in</strong>g or<br />

subvert<strong>in</strong>g. Another characteristic is that <strong>in</strong> all <strong>of</strong> his work he ensures<br />

that no isolated or essentialist notion <strong>of</strong> Scotl<strong>an</strong>d is <strong>of</strong>fered; <strong>in</strong>stead he<br />

expla<strong>in</strong>s how <strong>Scottish</strong> artists admix the specifics <strong>of</strong> place <strong>an</strong>d nation with<br />

tr<strong>an</strong>snational urgencies <strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong>fluences. And f<strong>in</strong>ally, it is impossible to miss<br />

his modest yet passionate engagement with artistic practice <strong>in</strong> his home<br />

country. I w<strong>an</strong>t to reflect on each <strong>of</strong> these themes here.<br />

<strong>Bill</strong> is <strong>an</strong> advocate for <strong>Scottish</strong> art, <strong>in</strong> the sense that he champions the<br />

work <strong>of</strong> m<strong>an</strong>y artists he believes <strong>in</strong> <strong>an</strong>d feels <strong>in</strong>spired <strong>an</strong>d privileged to do<br />

so. The conviction <strong>in</strong> their work drives his writ<strong>in</strong>g to its own heights but<br />

never <strong>in</strong> a modish or sycoph<strong>an</strong>tic way. I th<strong>in</strong>k this is one <strong>of</strong> the reasons<br />

why <strong>Bill</strong>’s writ<strong>in</strong>g style has a consistency <strong>of</strong> tone <strong>an</strong>d l<strong>an</strong>guage over the

12<br />

decades, although it has been enriched <strong>by</strong> <strong>an</strong> ever-exp<strong>an</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g r<strong>an</strong>ge <strong>of</strong><br />

historical <strong>an</strong>d theoretical sources, as we will see. This consistency, it seems<br />

to me, comes from his ability to ch<strong>an</strong>nel his own appreciation towards<br />

such strik<strong>in</strong>gly diverse artists, whose stylistic <strong>an</strong>d ideological positions<br />

sometimes have noth<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> common. The unity comes from shared levels<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>tegrity, <strong>in</strong>tensity <strong>an</strong>d bravura that <strong>Bill</strong> identifies <strong>in</strong> those artists he<br />

feels most impelled to write about. That is his project <strong>an</strong>d we are lucky<br />

to be able to share it ourselves through this book. For the most part, the<br />

writ<strong>in</strong>g takes the forms <strong>of</strong> the catalogue essay, the review article <strong>an</strong>d the<br />

<strong>in</strong>terview; <strong>an</strong>d collectively represents what I would call <strong>an</strong> ‘acclamatory<br />

journalism’ <strong>of</strong> the highest quality.<br />

<strong>Bill</strong> is also a natural teacher (as I have witnessed first-h<strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong> the<br />

sem<strong>in</strong>ar room) not only evidenced through his writ<strong>in</strong>g but <strong>in</strong> his formal<br />

work at the University <strong>of</strong> Ed<strong>in</strong>burgh, the Open University <strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong> front <strong>of</strong><br />

the great works on display at the National Galleries <strong>of</strong> Scotl<strong>an</strong>d. M<strong>an</strong>y<br />

departments dedicated to teach<strong>in</strong>g art history to students young <strong>an</strong>d old<br />

<strong>an</strong>d from all social demographics have benefited from his knowledge <strong>an</strong>d<br />

commitment. He has numerous ex-students who stay <strong>in</strong> touch, <strong>in</strong>vite<br />

him to write for them <strong>in</strong> their current positions <strong>an</strong>d look for cont<strong>in</strong>ued<br />

<strong>in</strong>spiration long after academic study has concluded. This collection <strong>of</strong><br />

writ<strong>in</strong>gs will <strong>of</strong> course also help other teachers to teach <strong>an</strong>d learners to<br />

learn, particularly <strong>in</strong> the area <strong>of</strong> post-1945 <strong>Scottish</strong> art. We should all be<br />

grateful for that.<br />

There is <strong>of</strong>ten a calibration <strong>in</strong> the texts that follow between the native<br />

dimensions <strong>of</strong> <strong>an</strong> artist’s work, its place with<strong>in</strong> a <strong>Scottish</strong> context, <strong>an</strong>d<br />

the wider <strong>in</strong>ternational <strong>an</strong>d global histories <strong>in</strong> which the practice aspires<br />

to st<strong>an</strong>d. <strong>Bill</strong> has written about m<strong>an</strong>y non-<strong>Scottish</strong> artists <strong>an</strong>d is <strong>in</strong> no<br />

sense parochial <strong>in</strong> his <strong>in</strong>terests. His th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g is entirely <strong>an</strong>d, moreover,<br />

<strong>in</strong>st<strong>in</strong>ctively <strong>in</strong> tune with more recent challenges to local/global, parochial/<br />

<strong>in</strong>ternational dualisms that are all too easily reached for, especially <strong>by</strong><br />

those who assume a cosmopolit<strong>an</strong> outlook. Just like m<strong>an</strong>y <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Scottish</strong><br />

artists <strong>Bill</strong> engages enthusiastically with, limited forms <strong>of</strong> nationalism do<br />

not <strong>in</strong>form his work.<br />

Readers will surely appreciate the <strong>in</strong>sights <strong>of</strong> someone who met <strong>an</strong>d<br />

knew most <strong>of</strong> the key <strong>Scottish</strong> artists <strong>of</strong> the post-1945 period first-h<strong>an</strong>d.<br />

They may also see that this period, whilst be<strong>in</strong>g its own golden age <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Scottish</strong> visual art, drew on deeper <strong>in</strong>tellectual <strong>an</strong>d artistic foundations<br />

from Scotl<strong>an</strong>d <strong>an</strong>d further afield. S<strong>in</strong>ce work<strong>in</strong>g more with<strong>in</strong> the academic<br />

sector, particularly s<strong>in</strong>ce the late 1990s, <strong>Bill</strong>’s r<strong>an</strong>ge <strong>of</strong> references has<br />

become as wide <strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong>clusive as m<strong>an</strong>y <strong>of</strong> the artists he writes about.<br />

Hence the recurrence <strong>of</strong> the figures <strong>of</strong> major Europe<strong>an</strong> theory that<br />

punctuate his writ<strong>in</strong>g – particular favourites be<strong>in</strong>g Freud, Jung <strong>an</strong>d La<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

Lévi-Strauss, Barthes <strong>an</strong>d Nietzsche. Those with a knowledge <strong>of</strong> such<br />

traditions will see, despite the diversity, a shared characteristic <strong>in</strong> these<br />

writers’ passion <strong>an</strong>d engagement – they represent the hot, urgent <strong>an</strong>d<br />

engaged end <strong>of</strong> Europe<strong>an</strong> critical th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g, full <strong>of</strong> affective resolve rather

th<strong>an</strong> cool abstraction <strong>an</strong>d obscur<strong>an</strong>tism.<br />

Liv<strong>in</strong>g as we do <strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly globalised cultural l<strong>an</strong>dscapes, every<br />

writer needs to be assured that they c<strong>an</strong> ‘be equal to the moment’ <strong>of</strong> art<br />

practice today. Gr<strong>an</strong>d visions <strong>an</strong>d bold assertions sweep across <strong>Bill</strong>’s<br />

writ<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>in</strong> ways that defy st<strong>an</strong>dard journalism <strong>an</strong>d reportage. It is certa<strong>in</strong>ly<br />

not a ‘view from nowhere’ but rather the view from <strong>an</strong> Ed<strong>in</strong>burgh outlook<br />

tower, firmly founded yet able to look out to far horizons. He shows us<br />

what we are miss<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> art appreciation if we go no further th<strong>an</strong> fill<strong>in</strong>g walls<br />

<strong>of</strong> bourgeois liv<strong>in</strong>g rooms. He is, <strong>in</strong> other words, as ambitious for art as the<br />

artists are themselves.<br />

The role <strong>of</strong> a writer such as <strong>Bill</strong> me<strong>an</strong>s he receives regular <strong>in</strong>vitations<br />

to write journal articles, books <strong>an</strong>d book chapters, exhibition reviews <strong>an</strong>d<br />

catalogue <strong>in</strong>troductions. One form that has particular value for <strong>Bill</strong> is the<br />

artist <strong>in</strong>terview. The recorded encounter with <strong>an</strong> artist is peculiarly <strong>in</strong>tense<br />

<strong>an</strong>d complex; a meet<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> m<strong>in</strong>ds where <strong>Bill</strong> c<strong>an</strong> explore <strong>an</strong> <strong>in</strong>dividual’s<br />

vision <strong>in</strong> all its specificity but c<strong>an</strong> also speculate on wider contexts <strong>an</strong>d<br />

<strong>in</strong>terpretations beyond those <strong>of</strong> the artists themselves. As published<br />

records they also have a longer life, where readers c<strong>an</strong> return to them<br />

<strong>an</strong>ew over the decades. Some <strong>of</strong> the <strong>in</strong>terviews <strong>Bill</strong> has done, for example<br />

with William Turnbull <strong>an</strong>d Ken Currie, reveal moments <strong>of</strong> historical<br />

import<strong>an</strong>ce <strong>an</strong>d contention <strong>in</strong> the history <strong>of</strong> <strong>Scottish</strong> art s<strong>in</strong>ce 1945,<br />

filtered through one person’s st<strong>an</strong>dpo<strong>in</strong>t. I would also add that the artist<br />

<strong>in</strong>terview is valued <strong>by</strong> <strong>Bill</strong> because it <strong>of</strong>fers <strong>an</strong> almost uniquely respectful<br />

space for artists to communicate someth<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> their <strong>in</strong>tentions, beyond or<br />

as a supplement to the <strong>in</strong>terpretations that other publics might br<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

their work.<br />

It will not be lost on readers just how wide the r<strong>an</strong>ge <strong>of</strong> artists is<br />

that <strong>Bill</strong> has written about <strong>an</strong>d/or encountered <strong>in</strong> person, start<strong>in</strong>g with<br />

post-war gi<strong>an</strong>ts such as Al<strong>an</strong> Davie, Jo<strong>an</strong> Eardley, Eduardo Paolozzi <strong>an</strong>d<br />

William Turnbull.<br />

I have <strong>an</strong> entirely playful, if problematic, vision <strong>of</strong> <strong>Bill</strong> revell<strong>in</strong>g<br />

(s<strong>of</strong>t dr<strong>in</strong>k <strong>in</strong> h<strong>an</strong>d, m<strong>in</strong>d you) amongst such <strong>in</strong>dividuals <strong>in</strong> a dr<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g<br />

establishment – some hybrid <strong>of</strong> New York’s Cedar Tavern <strong>an</strong>d<br />

Ed<strong>in</strong>burgh’s Milne’s Bar, with jazz pi<strong>an</strong>o weav<strong>in</strong>g around darkened<br />

booths, with<strong>in</strong> which Clement Greenberg <strong>an</strong>d Jim Haynes buy <strong>in</strong> rounds<br />

<strong>of</strong> dry mart<strong>in</strong>i <strong>an</strong>d McEwen’s Export. He has brought his <strong>an</strong>alytical eye<br />

to artists <strong>of</strong> the counter-culture such as I<strong>an</strong> Hamilton F<strong>in</strong>lay <strong>an</strong>d Boyle<br />

Family (the latter I would say <strong>in</strong>spir<strong>in</strong>g probably his greatest writ<strong>in</strong>g).<br />

He has felt as engaged <strong>an</strong>d curious regard<strong>in</strong>g modes <strong>of</strong> figuration <strong>an</strong>d<br />

realism as he has with <strong>an</strong>other <strong>of</strong> his great enthusiasms – abstract art.<br />

Concern<strong>in</strong>g the latter, artists such as John McLe<strong>an</strong>, Fred Pollock <strong>an</strong>d<br />

Ia<strong>in</strong> Robertson have received concentrated <strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong>cisive attention. His<br />

time with the <strong>Scottish</strong> Sculpture Trust <strong>an</strong>d the Federation <strong>of</strong> <strong>Scottish</strong><br />

Sculptors left <strong>an</strong> <strong>in</strong>delible sensitivity to sculpture, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g artists who<br />

deserve more recognition <strong>an</strong>d attention th<strong>an</strong> they have thus far received<br />

– artists like <strong>Bill</strong> Scott, John Kirkwood <strong>an</strong>d Matthew Inglis, among<br />


14<br />

others. I have particularly enjoyed read<strong>in</strong>g <strong>Bill</strong>’s writ<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>in</strong> which he was<br />

able to express early enthusiasm for what became stellar careers, such<br />

as those <strong>of</strong> Steven Campbell <strong>an</strong>d Douglas Gordon, where he skilfully<br />

draws out the <strong>in</strong>digenous reference po<strong>in</strong>ts that <strong>in</strong>ternational critics might<br />

easily miss or ignore. F<strong>in</strong>ally he has <strong>of</strong>fered critical support to emerg<strong>in</strong>g<br />

artists when their career trajectories were far from secure (such as Paul<br />

Reid, Helen Flockhart, Peter Thomson <strong>an</strong>d Kev<strong>in</strong> Harm<strong>an</strong>). Whilst this<br />

edited collection has only s<strong>in</strong>gle texts on these artists, it is worth not<strong>in</strong>g<br />

that <strong>Bill</strong> is <strong>in</strong>credibly loyal to those he respects, return<strong>in</strong>g to reconsider<br />

their subsequent work, <strong>by</strong> <strong>in</strong>vitation, on m<strong>an</strong>y occasions. Here aga<strong>in</strong> is<br />

evidence <strong>of</strong> his consistent support, earnest appreciation <strong>an</strong>d unassum<strong>in</strong>g<br />

camaraderie.<br />

In read<strong>in</strong>g <strong>an</strong>d re-read<strong>in</strong>g the writ<strong>in</strong>gs conta<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>in</strong> this book, more<br />

th<strong>an</strong> <strong>an</strong>yth<strong>in</strong>g I am struck <strong>by</strong> the enthusiasm conveyed <strong>in</strong> every word,<br />

express<strong>in</strong>g a commitment to artists’ work that <strong>Bill</strong> is clearly <strong>in</strong> awe <strong>of</strong>.<br />

These writ<strong>in</strong>gs are polemically <strong>an</strong>d emphatically on the side <strong>of</strong> their<br />

subject. The expression <strong>of</strong> positive enthusiasm <strong>in</strong> writ<strong>in</strong>g is not trendy<br />

these days. Suppression <strong>of</strong> enthusiasm takes the shape <strong>of</strong> modish coolness<br />

<strong>an</strong>d self-conscious position<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> certa<strong>in</strong> sectors <strong>of</strong> the art establishment.<br />

<strong>Bill</strong> has none <strong>of</strong> that. But equally, when <strong>Bill</strong> was start<strong>in</strong>g his life <strong>in</strong> the<br />

visual arts <strong>in</strong> 1970s Scotl<strong>an</strong>d, a more common form <strong>of</strong> approval was<br />

a taciturn nod over a p<strong>in</strong>t after <strong>an</strong> exhibition open<strong>in</strong>g. <strong>Bill</strong> is more<br />

expressive <strong>an</strong>d less guarded th<strong>an</strong> both those types – more Carlyle th<strong>an</strong><br />

Pater, more Spark th<strong>an</strong> Massie. Certa<strong>in</strong>ly more Willie Bauld th<strong>an</strong> Craig<br />

Leve<strong>in</strong>. The artists he rates are, to him, larger th<strong>an</strong> life. They grab the<br />

world with both h<strong>an</strong>ds <strong>an</strong>d sp<strong>in</strong> it on its axis. This mixture <strong>of</strong> baroque<br />

extravag<strong>an</strong>ce nu<strong>an</strong>ced with<strong>in</strong> <strong>an</strong> exact<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>tellectual l<strong>in</strong>eage characterises<br />

how <strong>Bill</strong> underst<strong>an</strong>ds the best art <strong>of</strong> his time.<br />

If <strong>Bill</strong>’s writ<strong>in</strong>g teaches me about keep<strong>in</strong>g the heart <strong>an</strong>d soul uppermost<br />

<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong>terpret<strong>in</strong>g visual art, he is also a model <strong>of</strong> respect for the work<br />

that artists do <strong>an</strong>d the challenges they face (whether or not they enjoy<br />

successful careers <strong>in</strong> the generally accepted sense). This is reflected <strong>in</strong><br />

how <strong>of</strong>ten that <strong>Bill</strong> mentions ‘privilege’ <strong>an</strong>d ‘pleasure’ <strong>in</strong> the support<strong>in</strong>g<br />

commentaries <strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong>troductions here, when meet<strong>in</strong>g artists <strong>in</strong> person or<br />

writ<strong>in</strong>g for them. This meet<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> person united with his naturally modest<br />

disposition is key, I th<strong>in</strong>k, both to how he writes <strong>an</strong>d also how artists<br />

welcome his words <strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong>sights. In the <strong>in</strong>terviews, we c<strong>an</strong> see that he is<br />

never try<strong>in</strong>g to corner them, catch them out or distort their purpose. He<br />

is a sympathetic <strong>in</strong>terlocutor, ever respectful <strong>of</strong> their <strong>in</strong>tentions, help<strong>in</strong>g<br />

them reach out to new audiences <strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong>terested f<strong>an</strong>s. (Those who he is<br />

less <strong>in</strong>trigued or enthused <strong>by</strong>, he simply does not write about.) This way<br />

<strong>of</strong> writ<strong>in</strong>g has real <strong>in</strong>tegrity, as this very welcome <strong>an</strong>d signific<strong>an</strong>t book<br />

amply proves on every page.<br />

Pr<strong>of</strong>essor Andrew Patrizio,<br />

The University <strong>of</strong> Ed<strong>in</strong>burgh,<br />

July 2019

Introduction<br />

<strong>Scottish</strong> <strong>Artists</strong> after 1945<br />

15<br />

I beg<strong>an</strong> to make a piece <strong>of</strong> sculpture to f<strong>in</strong>d out what a piece <strong>of</strong> sculpture should look like.<br />

William Turnbull, 1992<br />

As the title <strong>in</strong>dicates, this book is not <strong>in</strong>tended as a history <strong>of</strong> <strong>Scottish</strong> art<br />

after 1945 – the <strong>in</strong>terested reader c<strong>an</strong> f<strong>in</strong>d that well provided elsewhere.<br />

Rather, this publication focuses on a number <strong>of</strong> the actual makers <strong>of</strong> that<br />

history – the creative artists themselves. Through the primary source material<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>-depth <strong>in</strong>terviews <strong>an</strong>d supplementary critical commentaries, this book<br />

aims to give the reader access <strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong>sight <strong>in</strong>to the complex <strong>an</strong>d ch<strong>an</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g<br />

circumst<strong>an</strong>ces that these <strong>Scottish</strong> artists worked under <strong>an</strong>d the artistic<br />

ambitions they set themselves dur<strong>in</strong>g this extremely successful era <strong>of</strong> <strong>Scottish</strong><br />

art after World War ii.<br />

In 1945, after the unspeakable horrors <strong>of</strong> yet <strong>an</strong>other 20th century<br />

worldwide war, the previously dom<strong>in</strong><strong>an</strong>t socio-political attitudes <strong>an</strong>d<br />

aims <strong>of</strong> the so-called adv<strong>an</strong>ced nations around the globe had to ch<strong>an</strong>ge <strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>tent <strong>an</strong>d direction. This <strong>of</strong> course <strong>in</strong>cluded Great Brita<strong>in</strong>, which stood<br />

on the br<strong>in</strong>k <strong>of</strong> one <strong>of</strong> the most turbulent eras <strong>in</strong> its history, with each<br />

subsequent decade from the 1940s onwards radically shift<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> character<br />

<strong>an</strong>d experience from that <strong>of</strong> its predecessor. The highly varied work <strong>of</strong> the<br />

<strong>Scottish</strong> artists <strong>in</strong> this book is testament to their response to much <strong>of</strong> the<br />

socio-political, economic, <strong>in</strong>tellectual, technological <strong>an</strong>d artistic ch<strong>an</strong>ges<br />

that cont<strong>in</strong>uously occurred throughout the second half <strong>of</strong> the 20th century<br />

<strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong>to the 21st century. Thus the <strong>Scottish</strong> art produced <strong>in</strong> the 1940s<br />

<strong>an</strong>d 1950s is marked <strong>by</strong> the post-war austerity <strong>an</strong>d Cold War par<strong>an</strong>oia<br />

<strong>of</strong> the era. The rise <strong>of</strong> the consumer society <strong>an</strong>d the counter-culture<br />

movement made its impact on the art <strong>of</strong> the 1960s. The cultural rebellion<br />

<strong>of</strong> the ‘punk’ 1970s <strong>an</strong>d the social disaffection <strong>of</strong> the Thatcherite 1980s<br />

created their own highly critical artistic responses from <strong>Scottish</strong> artists.<br />

F<strong>in</strong>ally, the electronic <strong>an</strong>d digital mass communication age <strong>of</strong> the 1990s<br />

<strong>an</strong>d early 21st century has now tr<strong>an</strong>sformed the <strong>Scottish</strong> art scene beyond<br />

all recognition compared to its pre-war condition.<br />

Yet despite the undoubted impact <strong>of</strong> these external socio-economic<br />

ch<strong>an</strong>ges <strong>an</strong>d technological revolutions, I feel that there is still a unify<strong>in</strong>g<br />

aim <strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong>tent runn<strong>in</strong>g through the work <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Scottish</strong> artists <strong>in</strong> this<br />

book, which is not only socio-political but also philosophical <strong>in</strong> the area<br />

<strong>of</strong> artistic creativity <strong>an</strong>d aesthetics. By this I me<strong>an</strong> there is a common<br />

commitment to seek out <strong>an</strong>d experimentally search for appropriate <strong>an</strong>d<br />

relev<strong>an</strong>t me<strong>an</strong>s to represent visually the ontological experience <strong>of</strong> what<br />

it is to be ‘thrown’ <strong>in</strong>to this prote<strong>an</strong> modern world. Here the artist is as<br />

much concerned with the me<strong>an</strong>s – the m<strong>an</strong>ipulated material selected – as<br />

<strong>by</strong> the critical message <strong>an</strong>d aesthetic effect which is conveyed. To trace this

16<br />

fundamental social <strong>an</strong>d artistic concern shared <strong>by</strong> these <strong>Scottish</strong> artists, it<br />

is necessary to go back to 1945 <strong>an</strong>d the highly uncerta<strong>in</strong> period after the<br />

unimag<strong>in</strong>able devastation brought about <strong>by</strong> the World War ii.<br />

The young progressive <strong>Scottish</strong> artists who emerged onto the art<br />

scene after the war were highly suspicious, if not downright hostile, to<br />

the <strong>in</strong>herited socio-political shibboleths <strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong>stitutional dogmas <strong>of</strong><br />

the pre-war past. On the art scene <strong>in</strong> Brita<strong>in</strong>, that highly conservative<br />

attitude <strong>in</strong>cluded a deep suspicion, if not hostility, to modern art <strong>by</strong> the<br />

majority <strong>of</strong> critics <strong>an</strong>d public alike, which permeated through most <strong>of</strong><br />

the English art colleges. In pre-war Scotl<strong>an</strong>d, th<strong>in</strong>gs were a little different<br />

but, on the whole, modernism was ma<strong>in</strong>ly seen <strong>an</strong>d eclectically treated<br />

as a ready-at-h<strong>an</strong>d way to try out a r<strong>an</strong>ge <strong>of</strong> fashionable modern art<br />

styles <strong>in</strong> a picturesque m<strong>an</strong>ner. Thus, if young <strong>an</strong>d committed artists<br />

who came to the fore after 1945 were to engage seriously with their<br />

own experience <strong>of</strong> modernity <strong>in</strong> <strong>an</strong> appropriate representational visual<br />

l<strong>an</strong>guage <strong>of</strong> modernism, they would have to look elsewhere – <strong>an</strong>d they<br />

did. They toured war-torn Europe, lived <strong>an</strong>d worked <strong>in</strong> Paris, turned<br />

to the excit<strong>in</strong>g new art that was com<strong>in</strong>g out <strong>of</strong> America <strong>an</strong>d const<strong>an</strong>tly<br />

sought out for creative exam<strong>in</strong>ation the relev<strong>an</strong>t art <strong>of</strong> the past. Full <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>tellectual <strong>in</strong>quiry <strong>an</strong>d artistic ambition, they, unlike the older pre-war<br />

<strong>Scottish</strong> artists, did not take a subservient attitude to what was happen<strong>in</strong>g<br />

on the <strong>in</strong>ternational modern art scene, but readily drew upon it to make<br />

their own <strong>in</strong>dividual <strong>an</strong>d dist<strong>in</strong>ctive contributions. What dist<strong>in</strong>guished<br />

their richly <strong>in</strong>formed approach was the open <strong>an</strong>d speculative nature <strong>of</strong><br />

their artistic practice which was not <strong>in</strong>tent on produc<strong>in</strong>g highly f<strong>in</strong>ished,<br />

tasteful aesthetic objects; but rather, us<strong>in</strong>g their art to present a raw<br />

<strong>in</strong>st<strong>an</strong>t <strong>of</strong> authentic phenomenological experience where the creative<br />

process, rather th<strong>an</strong> skilful illusionism, was openly presented to the<br />

attentive viewer. To this end these artists drew the physical subst<strong>an</strong>ce for<br />

their art from the vulgar <strong>an</strong>d ready-at-h<strong>an</strong>d material available to them,<br />

whether it was wire <strong>an</strong>d cheap plaster, discarded mech<strong>an</strong>ical rubbish,<br />

pulp magaz<strong>in</strong>e imagery or grass from the fields <strong>an</strong>d s<strong>an</strong>d from the beach.<br />

Their challeng<strong>in</strong>g, uncompromis<strong>in</strong>g work soon marked them out as a<br />

fresh <strong>an</strong>d powerful presence on the British <strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong>ternational art scenes<br />

for perceptive critics, private patrons <strong>an</strong>d the progressive art-<strong>in</strong>terested<br />

public. They would all go on to develop successful careers <strong>an</strong>d establish<br />

endur<strong>in</strong>g reputations.<br />

The major <strong>Scottish</strong> conceptual artists who came to the fore dur<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

1960s, had little formal art tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g <strong>an</strong>d were from a literary background<br />

before mov<strong>in</strong>g to the visual arts. Their approach <strong>an</strong>d engagement<br />

with the world was markedly different <strong>in</strong> m<strong>an</strong>ner <strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong>tent from the<br />

<strong>Scottish</strong> av<strong>an</strong>t-garde artists <strong>of</strong> the previous two decades. Yet at the same<br />

time they <strong>in</strong>herited the same open attitude <strong>an</strong>d shared a similar spirit<br />

<strong>of</strong> experimental enquiry <strong>in</strong> their art practice. In their case this took<br />

contrast<strong>in</strong>g approaches, both <strong>in</strong> the choice <strong>an</strong>d selection <strong>of</strong> subject-matter,<br />

as well as <strong>in</strong> their methods <strong>of</strong> creative practice. On the one h<strong>an</strong>d the

17<br />

Installation photographs <strong>of</strong> The <strong>Scottish</strong> Endarkenment<br />

exhibition (2016). Top: show<strong>in</strong>g (pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g on the right) John<br />

Bell<strong>an</strong>y’s The Ettrick Shepherd, 1967; <strong>an</strong>d William Turnbull’s<br />

sculpture Small Blade Venus, 1989. Bottom: show<strong>in</strong>g Eduardo<br />

Paolozzi’s Mr Cruiksh<strong>an</strong>k, 1950.<br />

Reproduced courtesy <strong>of</strong> Dovecot Studios Photographer: Stuart Armitt

18<br />

family group w<strong>an</strong>ted to <strong>in</strong>clude ‘everyth<strong>in</strong>g’ <strong>in</strong> their art <strong>an</strong>d so developed<br />

<strong>an</strong> all-encompass<strong>in</strong>g strategy which allowed <strong>an</strong>yth<strong>in</strong>g on the Earth’s surface<br />

to become a possible subject for their empirical scientific studies <strong>an</strong>d their<br />

highly mimetic replicat<strong>in</strong>g process. While the family group were <strong>in</strong>tent<br />

on engag<strong>in</strong>g with the whole world out there, the concrete poet, situated<br />

<strong>an</strong>d fixed on a bleak <strong>Scottish</strong> hillside, set out to create his own enclosed<br />

world <strong>in</strong> the form <strong>of</strong> a l<strong>an</strong>dscape garden which he entitled Little Sparta.<br />

Furthermore, while the family group wished to keep <strong>an</strong>y political attitudes<br />

or personal views <strong>an</strong>d taste out <strong>of</strong> their completely neutral work, the poet<br />

used his classical garden as a visual polemic to discourse critically – <strong>an</strong>d<br />

frequently controversially – on a wide r<strong>an</strong>ge <strong>of</strong> historical <strong>an</strong>d contemporary<br />

issues. In contrast to the family group who took a decidedly h<strong>an</strong>ds-on<br />

work<strong>in</strong>g approach to the shared mak<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> their art, the poet saw himself<br />

as the <strong>in</strong>tellectual source <strong>an</strong>d powerhouse <strong>of</strong> his art <strong>an</strong>d was pleased to<br />

delegate the actual physical mak<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> it to skilled collaborators.<br />

To qualify as <strong>Scottish</strong> for <strong>in</strong>clusion <strong>in</strong> this book, the artists should<br />

be at least one <strong>of</strong> three th<strong>in</strong>gs – either they have been born <strong>an</strong>d bred <strong>in</strong><br />

Scotl<strong>an</strong>d, lived <strong>an</strong>d worked <strong>in</strong> Scotl<strong>an</strong>d for the greater part <strong>of</strong> their careers<br />

<strong>an</strong>d/or were educated at a <strong>Scottish</strong> art college. On the latter issue, most<br />

<strong>of</strong> the artists who came to the fore after the end <strong>of</strong> the 1960s did attend<br />

art college. This is <strong>in</strong>dicative that art education was now becom<strong>in</strong>g less<br />

academic <strong>an</strong>d more liberal – more open <strong>an</strong>d experimental <strong>in</strong> its approach.<br />

Yet up to the 1980s at least, students were still encouraged to develop<br />

their optical <strong>an</strong>d graphic skills <strong>in</strong> the life class. This particular aspect<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Scottish</strong> art college tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g consequently fed <strong>in</strong>to figurative pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g<br />

which has cont<strong>in</strong>ued to rema<strong>in</strong> a predom<strong>in</strong><strong>an</strong>t feature <strong>of</strong> <strong>Scottish</strong> modern<br />

<strong>an</strong>d contemporary art. Back <strong>in</strong> the 1960s, figurative pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g was seen <strong>by</strong><br />

m<strong>an</strong>y to be <strong>in</strong> crucial competition with abstraction, especially <strong>in</strong> the form<br />

<strong>of</strong> Abstract Expressionism; <strong>an</strong>d although it survived <strong>an</strong>d subsequently<br />

thrived, the best figurative pa<strong>in</strong>ters drew upon <strong>an</strong>d <strong>in</strong>corporated <strong>in</strong>to<br />

their practice m<strong>an</strong>y <strong>of</strong> the features <strong>of</strong> abstract pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g, from free gestural<br />

brushwork to rich colour-field compositional design.<br />

In the h<strong>an</strong>ds <strong>of</strong> a number <strong>of</strong> <strong>Scottish</strong> artists, figuration was set the<br />

task <strong>of</strong> visually address<strong>in</strong>g the socio-economic realities <strong>of</strong> the politically<br />

turbulent decades <strong>of</strong> the 1970s <strong>an</strong>d 1980s. As c<strong>an</strong> be seen from the artists<br />

work<strong>in</strong>g dur<strong>in</strong>g this period, their art could have <strong>an</strong> overtly critical <strong>in</strong>tent<br />

– whether deal<strong>in</strong>g with such issues as economic <strong>an</strong>d physical deprivation,<br />

national <strong>an</strong>d communal identity, the threat <strong>of</strong> nuclear <strong>an</strong>nihilation<br />

or, more generally, the collapse <strong>of</strong> the last rema<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g vestiges <strong>of</strong> <strong>an</strong>y<br />

k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> stable social <strong>in</strong>frastructure <strong>an</strong>d community <strong>in</strong> post-<strong>in</strong>dustrial<br />

Brita<strong>in</strong>. There were also other dimensions to figurative pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g, with<br />

its rediscovered potential <strong>in</strong> expressive power. It could also now address<br />

a wide r<strong>an</strong>ge <strong>of</strong> different aspects <strong>of</strong> the hum<strong>an</strong> psyche which had long<br />

been suppressed; from Calv<strong>in</strong>ist guilt complexes to female oppression<br />

under patriarchal dom<strong>in</strong>ation. On the latter issue, m<strong>an</strong>y <strong>Scottish</strong> women<br />

pa<strong>in</strong>ters shared a common concern <strong>by</strong> focus<strong>in</strong>g their artistic <strong>an</strong>d critical

attention on the <strong>in</strong>herited representation <strong>of</strong> the female body <strong>in</strong> the history<br />

<strong>of</strong> art as their central subject <strong>an</strong>d develop<strong>in</strong>g a variety <strong>of</strong> strategies to<br />

deconstruct its cultural <strong>an</strong>d social authority. <strong>Scottish</strong> modern figurative<br />

pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g also played <strong>an</strong> import<strong>an</strong>t role <strong>in</strong> help<strong>in</strong>g to revive <strong>an</strong>d give new<br />

vitality <strong>an</strong>d fresh possibilities to the long-time moribund genre <strong>of</strong> portrait<br />

pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

While figuration has rema<strong>in</strong>ed the dom<strong>in</strong><strong>an</strong>t mode <strong>of</strong> artistic<br />

expression <strong>in</strong> post-war <strong>Scottish</strong> art, abstraction was not <strong>by</strong> <strong>an</strong>y me<strong>an</strong>s<br />

sidel<strong>in</strong>ed. Dur<strong>in</strong>g the <strong>in</strong>ter-war years, for <strong>in</strong>st<strong>an</strong>ce, <strong>Scottish</strong> artists<br />

pioneered <strong>an</strong>d made import<strong>an</strong>t contributions to the early development <strong>of</strong><br />

abstract art <strong>in</strong> Brita<strong>in</strong>. After the war, <strong>Scottish</strong> artists cont<strong>in</strong>ued to work<br />

<strong>in</strong> <strong>an</strong> abstract mode but mostly <strong>in</strong> London, as there was little critical<br />

appreciation or public underst<strong>an</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> abstraction north <strong>of</strong> the border.<br />

In the 1960s, <strong>an</strong> import<strong>an</strong>t group <strong>of</strong> <strong>Scottish</strong> abstract pa<strong>in</strong>ters gravitated<br />

towards the Stockwell Depot studio complex <strong>in</strong> London which soon<br />

became the ma<strong>in</strong> powerhouse for the best contemporary abstract art <strong>in</strong><br />

Brita<strong>in</strong>. In the <strong>in</strong>itial stages <strong>of</strong> their work, these <strong>Scottish</strong> abstract pa<strong>in</strong>ters<br />

were <strong>in</strong>fluenced <strong>by</strong> tr<strong>an</strong>satl<strong>an</strong>tic abstraction, which was be<strong>in</strong>g heavily<br />

promoted <strong>in</strong> the 1960s, but all <strong>of</strong> the group subsequently went on to<br />

develop their own dist<strong>in</strong>ctive mode <strong>of</strong> abstract pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g. They gradually<br />

beg<strong>an</strong> to create such notable artistic <strong>an</strong>d critical reputations that the<br />

highly <strong>in</strong>fluential Americ<strong>an</strong> art critic Clement Greenberg visited their<br />

studios <strong>an</strong>d promoted their work through his writ<strong>in</strong>gs. A number <strong>of</strong><br />

these <strong>Scottish</strong> abstract pa<strong>in</strong>ters are now regarded as notable figures <strong>in</strong> the<br />

c<strong>an</strong>on <strong>of</strong> British abstract art. In the subsequent decades from the 1970s<br />

onwards, younger <strong>Scottish</strong> abstract pa<strong>in</strong>ters cont<strong>in</strong>ued to emerge. On the<br />

whole, their work is marked <strong>by</strong> be<strong>in</strong>g more <strong>in</strong>tellectually considered <strong>an</strong>d<br />

austere, with <strong>in</strong>tellectual rigour now play<strong>in</strong>g as import<strong>an</strong>t a role th<strong>an</strong> that<br />

<strong>of</strong> expressive spont<strong>an</strong>eity. The immensely import<strong>an</strong>t contribution that<br />

<strong>Scottish</strong> artists have made to the history <strong>of</strong> abstract art has unfortunately<br />

still to be duly recognised. A major <strong>Scottish</strong> abstract art exhibition is long<br />

overdue.<br />

It was not only <strong>in</strong> modern pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g that <strong>Scottish</strong> artists made a<br />

conspicuous contribution to post-war British art but also <strong>in</strong> the area <strong>of</strong><br />

sculptural practice. This aga<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong>itially took place <strong>in</strong> London. North <strong>of</strong> the<br />

border, almost all sculptors, because <strong>of</strong> the economics <strong>in</strong>volved <strong>in</strong> mak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

three-dimensional work, had to have a regular <strong>in</strong>come to supplement<br />

their art. Thus, most practis<strong>in</strong>g <strong>Scottish</strong> sculptors also taught their craft<br />

at one <strong>of</strong> the four ma<strong>in</strong> art colleges. From the 1960s onwards, however,<br />

there was a marked <strong>in</strong>crease <strong>in</strong> the support for sculptural activities, with<br />

more outlets for sculptors to display their work <strong>in</strong> sculpture parks <strong>an</strong>d<br />

at sculpture exhibitions, along with more public <strong>an</strong>d private sculpture<br />

commissions as new urb<strong>an</strong> schemes came <strong>in</strong>to be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>an</strong>d large corporate<br />

headquarters were established. Conventional sculpture as practised<br />

<strong>in</strong> the past was seriously challenged throughout the post-war period,<br />

especially with the <strong>in</strong>troduction <strong>of</strong> new k<strong>in</strong>ds <strong>of</strong> materials <strong>an</strong>d equipment<br />


20<br />

which enterpris<strong>in</strong>g sculptors were start<strong>in</strong>g draw upon. Furthermore, the<br />

previously traditional figure-dom<strong>in</strong>ated subject matter which sculptors<br />

were previously obliged to work with<strong>in</strong> was greatly exp<strong>an</strong>ded after<br />

the 1960s. For <strong>in</strong>st<strong>an</strong>ce, <strong>Scottish</strong> sculptors could now take on a wide<br />

array <strong>of</strong> socio-political themes <strong>an</strong>d issues, which had previously been<br />

the almost total prerogative <strong>of</strong> pa<strong>in</strong>ters. In fact, the previous clear<br />

demarcation l<strong>in</strong>e between these two art practices has, over the last few<br />

decades, been gradually blurred <strong>an</strong>d almost swept away, particularly with<br />

the <strong>in</strong>novation <strong>an</strong>d wide use <strong>of</strong> new modes <strong>of</strong> artistic format, such as<br />

<strong>in</strong>stallation, perform<strong>an</strong>ce <strong>an</strong>d time-based practices <strong>in</strong>volv<strong>in</strong>g photography<br />

<strong>an</strong>d film. In fact, the younger contemporary <strong>Scottish</strong> artists are just as<br />

likely to work <strong>in</strong> the <strong>in</strong>t<strong>an</strong>gible mediums <strong>of</strong> time, space, light <strong>an</strong>d sound<br />

as <strong>in</strong> the more traditional solid materials <strong>of</strong> stone, metal or wood. Aga<strong>in</strong><br />

this allows for a much more open, flexible <strong>an</strong>d experimental approach<br />

to the mak<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> their art. This I believe has been the predom<strong>in</strong><strong>an</strong>t<br />

characteristic <strong>of</strong> the most <strong>in</strong>novative, challeng<strong>in</strong>g <strong>an</strong>d stimulat<strong>in</strong>g work<br />

produced <strong>by</strong> the best <strong>Scottish</strong> artists s<strong>in</strong>ce 1945.<br />

Today, <strong>Scottish</strong> art still reta<strong>in</strong>s a very creative, <strong>in</strong>novative <strong>an</strong>d<br />

ambitious outlook – ‘the country is on the move’, to quote the late<br />

Bob Callender. This healthy condition is much due to the facilities <strong>an</strong>d<br />

<strong>in</strong>frastructure that support art-mak<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> Scotl<strong>an</strong>d. These <strong>in</strong>clude wellequipped<br />

artists’ workshops; extensive studio accommodation; artist-run<br />

galleries show<strong>in</strong>g excit<strong>in</strong>g new work; much exp<strong>an</strong>ded multi-discipl<strong>in</strong>ary<br />

courses at <strong>Scottish</strong> art colleges; a rejuvenated Royal <strong>Scottish</strong> Academy;<br />

<strong>an</strong> <strong>in</strong>volved <strong>an</strong>d supportive <strong>Scottish</strong> National Gallery <strong>of</strong> Modern Art;<br />

<strong>Scottish</strong> universities that have now developed a more comprehensive<br />

attitude towards the visual arts <strong>in</strong> Scotl<strong>an</strong>d; <strong>an</strong>d a plethora <strong>of</strong> art<br />

galleries up <strong>an</strong>d down the country exhibit<strong>in</strong>g <strong>an</strong>d sell<strong>in</strong>g modern <strong>an</strong>d<br />

contemporary art to a much more <strong>in</strong>formed <strong>an</strong>d appreciative public. All<br />

<strong>of</strong> these encourag<strong>in</strong>g developments have proved to be very successful <strong>an</strong>d<br />

reward<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>vestments. As I hope this book shows, th<strong>an</strong>ks to a r<strong>an</strong>ge <strong>of</strong><br />

factors – most import<strong>an</strong>tly, the achievements <strong>of</strong> the artists themselves<br />

– the visual arts throughout the post-war era have made <strong>an</strong> <strong>in</strong>valuable<br />

contribution to the socio-cultural wellbe<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> modern <strong>an</strong>d contemporary<br />

Scotl<strong>an</strong>d. With all our support <strong>an</strong>d encouragement, long may it cont<strong>in</strong>ue.<br />

<strong>Bill</strong> <strong>Hare</strong><br />

July 2019

287<br />

Acknowledgements<br />

This book covers over 30 years <strong>of</strong> my writ<strong>in</strong>g on <strong>Scottish</strong> artists <strong>an</strong>d my<br />

heartfelt th<strong>an</strong>ks go to all those numerous people – <strong>in</strong> a r<strong>an</strong>ge <strong>of</strong> different capacities<br />

– with whom I have had the pleasure to work over that time.<br />

More specifically, for the publication <strong>of</strong> this book, I would first <strong>an</strong>d foremost<br />

like to express my gratitude to the artists who agreed to be <strong>in</strong>cluded,<br />

m<strong>an</strong>y <strong>of</strong> whom also took the trouble to supply images <strong>of</strong> their work.<br />

I would further like to th<strong>an</strong>k all the others – whether <strong>in</strong>dividuals, photographers<br />

(especially Ralph Hughes), galleries or <strong>in</strong>stitutions – for respond<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

my request for illustrations. Over the years I have been fortunate to be asked<br />

to write articles for a number <strong>of</strong> publications <strong>an</strong>d this gives me <strong>an</strong> opportunity<br />

to th<strong>an</strong>k all those exhibit<strong>in</strong>g artists, gallery owners, exhibition curators, art<br />

magaz<strong>in</strong>e editors <strong>an</strong>d publishers who have allowed me to express my critical<br />

op<strong>in</strong>ions <strong>an</strong>d aesthetic views <strong>in</strong> pr<strong>in</strong>t. I must also th<strong>an</strong>k the University <strong>of</strong><br />

Ed<strong>in</strong>burgh’s History <strong>of</strong> Art department for provid<strong>in</strong>g me with all the facilities<br />

to compile <strong>an</strong>d write this publication.<br />

F<strong>in</strong>ally I must th<strong>an</strong>k all those who were <strong>in</strong>volved <strong>in</strong> the production <strong>of</strong> this<br />

book: my good friend <strong>an</strong>d long-time colleague Andrew Patrizio for writ<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the Foreword; the director <strong>of</strong> Luath Press, Gav<strong>in</strong> MacDougall, for agree<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to publish my writ<strong>in</strong>gs, my editor Maia Gentle for all her useful advice <strong>an</strong>d<br />

support <strong>an</strong>d special th<strong>an</strong>ks also to Dunc<strong>an</strong> Thomson <strong>an</strong>d Jennie Renton.

committed to publish<strong>in</strong>g well written books worth read<strong>in</strong>g<br />

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