Saturday, 29 December 2012

Art by Mary Maclean

When I was at Glasgow University (1982-1986) I had friends from a number of other institutions, including the Glasgow School of Art.  This was through a set of roundabout connections because I was a member of the Edinburgh Youth Orhcestra (EYO) (plus the National Windband of Scotland (NWoS), the Lothian Schools Orchestra (LSO), the Edinburgh Secondary Schools Orchestra (ESSO) and the Caritas Orchestra (I was busy in those days)) and therefore met a lot of people from other schools in Edinburgh who have turned up periodically thoughout my life since.

Of these, the pupils from the Rudolf Steiner school were often the most interesting and many of them ended up as music and art students in Glasgow when I was there. One of these was a 'cello player (Moria?) and her elder sister, Mary Maclean, who was studing fine arts (mainly painting I think) at the Glasgow School of Art, whom I first met at a party we held at our flat at 42 Bentinck Street.
I didn't drink much in those days (I think it was 1984) and was a sensible sort of chap (overall) and I remember being invited round to the flat they shared in Oban Drive in the West End for innocent past-times such as drinking tea, baking cakes, playing charades and generally having silly conversations.

I suppose I had lived in a relatively narrow, circumscribed and studious world until then (and for quite a while thereafter) and it was interesting to be introduced to things that I didn't really know anything about such as art, old Edith Piaf LPs, tinned lychees and the revelation that the Macleans' mother had allegedly been in the Hitler Youth before emigrating to Scotland.

Oban Drive is just round the corner from Fergus Drive where my good friend Kenny lived for a while thereafter (hello Kenny!) and I remember that they used to get letters from a friend in Morningside addressed to "Oh-ban-the-bomb Drive".

Anyway, I liked Mary's art and as she was a final year student by then she was selling some of her pictures and I gladly paid £40 for one of them.  It doesn't have a title, that I am aware of, but it is a large canvas (130 x 170cm) depicting two people sitting in a cafe in Amsterdam and is based on the pastel sketch above, which she let me have as a bonus.
It hangs proudly on the wall of my sitting room and although it is not the most beautiful painting in Scotland (or possibly even the most finished) it sits well against the warm yellow walls and brown furniture (chosen in a way to compliment the painting, not the other way around, as is often the case, these days) and looks interesting, often stimulates conversation, and is in fact the only painting I own - at the time I had thought to buy other pictures from Mary but I was worried what my mother would say about the reclining nude I was considering.

It's funny, I was writing this blog piece and found myself wondering where Mary had got to since I last saw her c.1984.  And, just this very minute, by the power of the internet, I have found her here.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

A Little More Harmony

Here are a couple more Harmony images I produced just by doodling about.  Not sure where the ideas cames from... I think I might have been watching some Looney Tunes with James.
They're easy and fun to do and has helped generate a few ideas that can be further developed in MyPaint or GIMP.  Here's another one.
See these architects?  They think they're the only ones that can do this!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be

I was looking through some old photos and thought I should digitise them (well, try photographing them using a digital camera).  Purely for self-indugent reasons I've posted some of them mainly to remind the world (well the internet) what I looked like with hair (compare and contrast with my profile photo); so here are a few choice images (apologies for the quality, I may re-do them).
This is me in the lab in the Zoology Department at Glasgow University c1986.  You can see my excellent dress sense shining through.  That's Andy Harvey, my flatmate at the time, in the background.
Here I am on a beach in Norfolk probably in 1987 at the end of the first year of my PhD in Cambridge (Pembroke College).  I think I had been paddling.
I think this one was taken in about 1989 late in my third year.  I'm standing in Downing College trying to look intellectual.  You can see the stress of writing up written all over my face.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Goodbye Cruel World!

My son's primary school held an art show last week and as parents we were invited to view the work of our offspring and then perhaps pay for some (or all) of their works of art on display.  Being thrifty I was thinking "well, we'll get them back at the end of term anyway".... but that wasn't in the spirit of the thing.  Anyway, here's an example of what my son did (he's nine):
In preparation for the art show the children apparently enjoyed lessons on Dali, Munch, Monet and in this case Lichtenstein (I think).  My son chose to make this interesting image of a ninja leaping away from an explosion, which he initially entitled "Goodbye Cruel World", but then told me that he thought that "I Hate My Job!" might be better.

Personally, I thought that "I love my job!" would have been the best thing to call it, as what could be better than having an occupation dressing up like Lee van Cleef and blowing stuff up.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

1541 Marketing

My wife's new business has opened up a creative avenue for me.  Not only have I designed her website and her business cards but I've just done a banner ad for the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland (out in the May 2012 issue, hopefully).

Actually, it's not an entirely new idea (as it's based on one of the images we use on the website and on the business cards) but at least it did get me back into GIMP again and helped refresh a few of the skills I'd forgotten I had.
As noted before I'm not at all keen on the normal corporate approach or images and so have gone for something that I hope that you won't see very often in a sober and traditional Scots lawyers' publication.

The idea was to do something striking, intriguing and simple that would catch the attention and draw the reader in, even if only for a few seconds.  In other words:

1) "Hey, interesting image"
2) "Eh, 1541?  What's that supposed to be?"
3) "Ah, I get it."

Something like that anyway. As the Journal has a circulation of 20,000 lawyers we reckon that if we get one new client (or just two small jobs on the back of it) it will be worth it.  Ah, creativity!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Too poor, too wee and too stupid

I had never intended to post anything about Scottish politics on this blog as it was always meant to be a place for me to explore some of my eclectic (possibly esoteric) interests.  However, the front cover of the latest edition of the Economist has forced my hand.  Would ye look at this (click to enlarge):
For those of you who'd like some of the real information that the mainstream media (MSM) seem determined that the general public won't find out about then please look for the antidote here:

A to Z of Unionist myths

Wings over Scotland

If your bent is economic then I refer you to the McCrone report (note this links to a pdf) from 1975, which was an official report suppressed by successive UK governments, on how Scotland would have fared if it had had control over oil revenues (in summary - very well indeed).  They were particularly worried about favourable comparisons with Norway (population 4.7m, less than Scotland).

Also here is the latest official Government and Expenditure Report Scotland (GERS), which shows that Scotland raised more in taxes (yes, we do actually have jobs and industry here) last year (based on a conservative assessment of revenues) than it received from Westminster.  Which kind of indicates what a load of tripe the Economist's slant really is.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

St Peter and St Cuthbert

January was a busy month for some reason (I don't know why because I didn't achieve anything) but at least I've got off my hurdies (that's a Scots word, you'll just have to look it up) and got the beer making going again.  The 1541 IPA, I made previously, was based on a kit of Munton's IPA, which came out rather lacking in the malty body, hoppy finish and creamy head that one would expect (just about everything really).  My beer labels were eye-catching though (see earlier post and photo below with guitar and beer bottles in situ).
Therefore, although I'm sticking with kits for now, I'm going to try this St Peter's Ale, which I got from my local and very helpful beer-making shop at Bruntsfield, Edinburgh called Alba Homebrew.  It should be good as St Peter's is a real brewery and you can buy their intensely hoppy bottled beers in Waitrose and elsewhere.  Alba is the Gaelic name for Scotland, by the way.
I started it this morning so it'll be a few weeks before it's ready and my plan though, is to repackage it as 1541 St Cuthbert's Ale.  Obviously this is for my own use and amusement and not for sale anywhere.  I'll be working on the labels next so watch this space/blog.  Cheers.