Alasdair Gray: City Recorder (5 stars)

Alasdair Gray: City Recorder

Fantastic exhibition of drawings chronicling Glasgow's past

For one year in 1977, at a time when many of Glasgow’s famous old industries were closing, Alasdair Gray was commissioned to capture the life of the city in ink, watercolour, acrylic and oil on paper. Glasgow’s local history museum, the People’s Palace, approached him to become the city’s modern Artist Recorder, and he spent a year drawing the streets and its people – focusing on what was about to be changed or demolished; folk in politics and the arts; private members of the general public; and interiors of work places with the workers.

These meticulously drawn cityscapes include Templeton’s Carpet Factory on London Road with local women factory workers’ faces superimposed on the paper – thin and see through as if disappearing from history. The factory closed soon after. There are portraits of union leader Jimmy Reid; Tom McGrath at the Third Eye Centre (now CCA); poets, the full time unemployed, young folk, old folk, priests, journalists, and hairdressers. These portraits show Gray’s exceptional skill of not only capturing their physical bodies, but also the lines that write history on people’s faces.

Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, until Mon 13 Aug.

Alasdair Gray: City Recorder

  • 5 stars

Alasdair Gray is one of Scotland's most eminent writers and artists, and in 1977 he was 'artist recorder' for the city of Glasgow, his home town. This major exhibition features work from that period, showing how Gray's art depicted the life of the city at a particular moment.

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