Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Start the Week - BBC Radio 4 - Art and Design with Antony Gormley, Christopher Frayling, Sarah Teasley and Ron Arad

Andrew Marr explores how Britain trains the artists and designers of the future.

Christopher Frayling and Sarah Teasley celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Royal College of Art, the world's oldest art and design school.

But one of its former teachers, the industrial designer Ron Arad argues for a broader arts education which doesn't split sculpture from painting, architecture from design.

And the artist Antony Gormley redefines the limits of sculpture and building.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Work not Play campaign by Musicians Union

In light of the recent campaign by artists for fair rates of pay (exhibition fees) and the general lack of confidence in Creative Scotland, it is worth reminding ourselves that we are not operating in isolation, and that other creative fields are being effected.

The Musicians Union have an interesting campaign going called 'Work not Play'.

  Musicians' Union Work Not Play

The Musicians Union are reminding people that 'this is not a hobby - it's a profession' and support fair pay for professional musicians.

For more information please visit

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Southblock Artists Open Studios - 1st and 2nd of December 2012

Once again I will be opening the doors of my studio (312) to the public as I am participating in the Southblock Artists Open Studios event at the beginning of December. A wide range of artists based at Southblock (64 Osborne Street, Glasgow) are taking part, selling work to suit all tastes and budgets.

Please come along and see what I have been creating / am working on!

Stuck for ideas for Christmas presents? How about buying some art from local artists?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.”
- Leo Burnett

Saturday, 10 November 2012

'Changin' Scotland

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the latest event organised by AHM, namely, 'Changin' Scotland – The Role of the Arts, Culture and Identity in Scotland' in Ullapool, 2-4 November 2012. Thankfully Richard Taylor has written a comprehensive report on the conference.

'Changin' Scotland – The Role of the Arts, Culture and Identity in Scotland' looked at how artists and others can influence public policy.
By: Richard Taylor

Introduced by writer and commentator Gerry Hassan and Highlands and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart, 'Changin' Scotland – The Role of the Arts, Culture and Identity in Scotland' took a 'Yes' campaign slant on how Scottish cultural identity could help educate public opinion on Scotland’s independence referendum in 2014.

The conference was organised by artists and facilitators AHM (Sam Ainsley, David Harding and Sandy Moffat), who in 2011 produced the State of Play – Art and Culture in Scotland Today symposia. In their opening session, and in light of having attended the open public meeting at Glasgow's Tramway on October 31 which addressed the need for change at funding body Creative Scotland, AHM asked: "How do artists and those involved in the arts change public policy?"

Further sessions followed over a full day on the Saturday, with a screening of 'Brigadoon' in the evening, and two morning sessions on the Sunday. Representatives of Scotland’s cultural sector presented their ideas, followed by open discussion facilitated by AHM. The role of cultural action as a stimulus for social transformation and political change was discussed in terms of national institutions, such as the Royal Scottish Academy, the role of Creative Scotland, and events in recent Scottish arts history such as 'Windfall 91', a seminal artist-led exhibition in Glasgow involving Scottish and European artists. All sessions were visually recorded through drawing by artist Emily Wilkinson.

There was strong support for Scottish independence throughout the three days. Artists such as Jim Mooney and Roderick Buchanan, art historians, politicians, poets and literary figures such as Janet Paisley and Alan Bissett, as well as former representatives of what was the Scottish Arts Council, including Sam Ainsley and Lindsay Gordon, put forward arguments that harkened to late '70s Scottish nationalism and its influence in the arts in the '80s and '90s. Creative Scotland was also scrutinised on its dismantling of the specialist voice of artists at board level.

Speakers from the visual arts sector included Malcolm Maclean, former CEO of Proiseact nan Ealan (the Gaelic Arts Agency); Will Maclean (RSA), former Senior Research Fellow and tutor at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design; Craig Richardson, Professor of Fine Art, Northumbria University; novelist, journalist and filmmaker Ewan Morrision; and Tom Normand from School of Art History, St Andrews University.

A strong argument came from Malcolm Maclean’s Saturday morning session 'Out of the Invisible: The role of the visual-arts in re-imagining Gaelic Scotland'. In presenting historical events that dealt with the promotion of Gaelic language through visual art, Maclean put forward ideas on how artists can project change through media coverage and a public voice.
He commented: "The blank canvas of giving artists full license to realise their ideas whilst working with the Gaelic language – Proiseact nan Ealan’s foremost ethos – in turn allows an effective politicisation of ideas… a slow-burner effect of instilling social and political movement." Foundation funding was this year withdrawn from Proiseact nan Ealan by Creative Scotland.

The importance of history
Craig Richardson’s Saturday afternoon talk, ‘Scottish Art since 1960’ discussed historical definitions of Scottish contemporary art in light of post-modernism, Thatcherism and devolution – all reference points that were brought together in the conference to promote 2014’s independence vote, and to politicise the creative act.

Anchoring social change to artists' responses, Richardson stated: "An insurance policy for Scottish artists is the knowledge of their recent art history, a record of which has been difficult to trace in a British sense… to look at the topology of Scottish visual art since 1960 unearths either exclusion or inclusion – a predicament the artists’ national confidence will face in upcoming political shifts."

Ewan Morrison’s later talk, 'The role of great art and art education in social transformation', questioned whether social change is indeed possible through the work of artists. He instead suggested that such tasks should be left to politicians. He said: "Artists feel the need to symptomatically respond to politics, yet successful practitioners have responded instead with entrepreneurship in order to survive."

With many artists now avoiding the art market to pursue alternative ways to make a living, context-specific work is realisable, as are socially engaged projects that look to the community. Yet this type of work is clearly dependent on funding.

Much focus was brought back to Creative Scotland’s role. It was characterised as a product of decisions made by governmental shifts ignorant of Scotland’s international cultural standing and overly focused on activity in the central belt (Edinburgh and Glasgow). The overiding message of Changin' Scotland was that the change brought about by being an independent nation would allow for inclusivity, rather than exclusivity.

'Changin’ Scotland – The Role of the Arts, Culture and Identity in Scotland' took place 2-4 November, in Ullapool, Scotland.

Images from the event can be viewed on the AHM blog:

Tramway World Cafe event

The Tramway World Cafe event on 31 October 2012 at Tramway, Glasgow was an open opportunity for artists, practitioners and people who care about the arts and cultural sector in Scotland to come together for a discussion about the future of our community in the next 10 years.

It was stimulated by the public and private discussions that have been happening about our main public funding body, Creative Scotland.

It was set up to be artist and practitioner focused. Questions were posed, and answers sought. Recommendations were made, and a constructive approach was adopted so as to offer possibilities rather than purely making complaints.

The papers presented and presentations made can be viewed online at the following blog:

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

An Ode to Creative Work

Although I don't agree fully with all that is said, there are some real truths that deserve to be told.

Behind every great advancement, in every industry, there is a creative mind. 

Creativity may come easy, but creation is hard. 

The late nights spent trying, and failing, and trying again. 

All the while, holding onto our vision.

Pushing what we see in our mind's eye into the world. 

But our brilliance is being held captive by forces around us and within us. 

Middle men who play us down while marking us up.

Not giving us credit. Getting us to work for free. 

And worse, we get in the way of our own success.

We rely on chance encounters. We’re disorganized and isolated, liable to go unnoticed. 

We can do better. 

When creative minds come together, the sum exceeds all expectations.

We connect, we learn, we critique, and we prosper. 

It's not about money or fame, it's about doing what we love.

It's about creating our greatest work on our own terms.

It’s about realizing that creativity is not just an opportunity - it's a responsibility. 

Here's to unleashing our full potential.

For us, and for the world that awaits what we will do next; Take creative control.