Illustrated Awards for the Saltire Society

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Tonight two special edition illustrations were awarded as Honorary Membership gifts at a Saltire Society ceremony in Edinburgh. The recipients, Douglas Eadie and Jim Wilson, were being celebrated for their contribution to Scottish film and the cultural life of the country.

It was an honour to be asked to make these awards, and special thanks go to Evergreen Studios for their craftsmanship on the handmade elm frames.

The original artwork was ‘Nothing but Heather‘, a map inspired by the poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid.

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Free Space Gallery, Edinburgh

The former Yes shop at no. 7 Easter Road in Edinburgh has kindly given me a window space for my map prints and referendum-themed greetings cards. These include prints of the Edinburgh Old Town, Imagining Scotland and March on Calton Hill, as well as greetings cards of the latter two. The gallery also stocks many great independence-related books such as Lesley Riddoch’s Blossom and National Collective’s creative volume, Inspired by Independence. Visit the Free Space website here.

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Robert Louis Stevenson’s Edinburgh

As today is Robert Louis Stevenson Day here are my favourite of his descriptions of Edinburgh, from his little-known book Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes, which first inspired me to draw the city.

EdinburghCastle‘Few places, if any, offer a more barbaric display of contrasts to the eye. In the very midst stands one of the most satisfactory crags in nature—a Bass Rock upon dry land, rooted in a garden, shaken by passing trains, carrying a crown of battlements and turrets, and describing its war-like shadow over the liveliest and brightest thoroughfare of the new town.’

‘The poor man may roost up there in the centre of Edinburgh, and yet have a peep of the green country from his window; he shall see the quarters of the well-to-do fathoms underneath, with their broad squares and gardens; he shall have nothing overhead but a few spires, the stone top-gallants of the city; and perhaps the wind may reach him with a rustic pureness, and bring a smack of the sea, or flowering lilacs in the spring.’

‘Beautiful as she is, she is not so much beautiful as interesting. She is pre-eminently Gothic, and all the more so since she has set herself off with some Greek airs, and erected classic temples on her crags. In a word and above all, she is a curiosity.’

A Pilgrimage

Yesterday I was very fortunate to visit Hugh MacDiarmid’s old cottage in the Borders. It has remained largely untouched since he died in 1978, and is still packed with his books, pamphlets and paintings.

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CottageweeThere’s a real sense of history here.

‘Scotland small? Our multiform, our infinite Scotland small?
Only as a patch of hillside may be a cliché corner
To a fool who cries “Nothing but heather!”‘