SNP MSP Sandra White will lead a members debate in the Scottish Parliament today (Tuesday 28 January) celebrating the wonderful legacy and cultural force of Glasgow-born Alasdair Gray.
Alasdair passed away on 29 December 2019 and Sandra White MSP – herself having been depicted as part of Gray’s mural at Hillhead subway station – lodged the motion for debate in acknowledgement of his impact as an artist, writer and friend.
Today’s debate will be attended by his publisher Francis Bickmore of Canongate, his agent Jenny Brown and members of the Glasgow Print Studio.
Sandra White will outline proposals for a fund in Alasdair’s name to support artists and writers in Scotland, a mural for the Scottish Parliament and support for an Alasdair Gray Archive.
Commenting, Sandra White MSP said:
“Alasdair Gray’s body of work has influenced, engaged, inspired and entertained and, more importantly, is a lasting legacy to a cultural giant.
“I had the incredible opportunity to be immortalised by Alasdair in his wonderful mural at Hillhead Subway Station. It was such an honour to be included in one of his many artworks. I will remember fondly the sittings at his studio and the great chats we had about Glasgow and politics!
“We should all see ourselves as custodians of his work and I would like to offer my support to the idea of a fund created in his name to assist artists and writers in developing Scottish identity.
“I would also champion the proposal of a mural here in the Scottish Parliament which Alasdair’s assistant Nick Wheatley had been working on – this would sit well with his words which are engraved on the building.
“As well as these suggestions I would also take the opportunity to highlight the work undertaken by Sorcha Dallas, Alasdair’s friend and archivist who has the responsibility of taking forward the Alasdair Gray Archive.
“We must also take the opportunity to highlight the upcoming exhibition which Alasdair was looking forward to at the Glasgow Print Studios, it is incredibly sad that he did not get to see his work displayed at an institution he had been such a huge part of over many years.
“Alasdair will be mourned by everyone he touched but we are incredibly fortunate to have had such a formidable, creative force of whom I had the pleasure to know and his legacy will live on.”
Francis Bickmore, Publishing Director at Canongate Books said:
“Alasdair Gray’s work demonstrated how culture, especially literature and art in his case, offers essential building blocks with which to forge a nation.
“Through his own books, from his masterpiece Lanark onwards, and his paintings, murals, poetry and plays, and the many other artists and writers he supported, Gray helped to create the modern Scottish imagination, he helped foster community and he helped to unlock our sense of the possible.”
Sorcha Dallas from the Alasdair Gray Archive said:
“Alasdair Gray was a key Scottish figure and his archive is of national and international significance. Not only does his work chart in enlightening ways the local Scottish context within the fields of literature and visual art, including art education, but it also comments on Scotland’s increasing independence both economically and politically. His work has always been rooted in the idea of the ‘local’, with Gray being an inspiration for Scottish writers and artists seeking to achieve an international voice while still being based in Scotland.”
Claire Forsyth from The Glasgow Print Studio said of Alasdair:
“Alasdair lived his life; looking, reflecting, reworking, not settling, challenging and innovating, protesting when it might be easier to remain silent and asking all of us around him to examine and truly “see” what he had brought before us.
“GPS will be holding an exhibition of all of the prints made with Alasdair Gray, including unseen new work from February 7 to April 12. Alasdair was delighted to be invited by GPS director John Mackechnie to have an exhibition in 2020 and the two had shared a spirited conversation regarding it just a week before his death. The exhibition gathers together many of the prints GPS have made with him over the last 30 years and was to be the launch event for several new screenprints that we produced with Alasdair in the last eighteen months.”