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Congratulations to the following Former Pupils who have reached milestone birthdays this month:-
65 Norman Tait; Michael Borys; Malcolm Buchanan; Sandy Alexander; Richard Rule;
60 Stephen Newton; Mark Stutter; Gerard McDaid; Edward Reilly; Laurence Printie; John McKeown;
50 Paul A. Kelly; Peter Stewart;
New e-mail contacts:- Hubert Ross; Paul A. Kelly;
Recent correspondence:- Canon Alan Finley; Brian Tunmore; Bruce Laidlaw; Hubert Ross; John Shaw; Laurence Printie; Mike Deery; Paul Kelly; Pete Barry; Sandy Alexander; Scott Miller; David Wright;
John Shaw commented as follows:-
Thanks for your most cheering message pre-Christmas. I am going to Belgium over Christmas, 23rd - 27th, in a party organised by a former Stirling University friend of mine, Des Brogan of Mercat Tours. A number of the people going are from England. He wrote to the participants thus: "Most people if, or when, they think about Christmas 1914 at all, are aware of the famous truce which occurred along the Western Front and was characterised by the football match in No Man’s Land. As you know, we have been taking school and adult groups to that site since 1979. Teachers and students have always been very moved by the account of the truce and the reinstallation of the carillon of bells in Messines Church which overlooks the site of the truce and football match." We take the ferry from Hull on the 23rd and return via the Channel Tunnel.
Actually I’m a bit anxious about the whole thing, and I’ll be by far the oldest person in the party.
Ricky Demarco sent the following Christmas newsletter, which some will find interesting:-
November has been an extraordinary month, full of unforgettable memories of Poland and the world of two Polish artists who well deserve to be regarded as masters of the twentieth century avant-garde. They are Tadeusz Kantor who sadly died in 1990 and Boguslaw Schaeffer who is still alive at the grand old age of 85. I associate both with the beautiful city of Krakow, an UNESCO-protected city, just like its twin city, Edinburgh. Anyone considering the twinning of Edinburgh and Krakow, now celebrating the 25th anniversary of what must be seen as a fruitful cultural union, must cause me to take most seriously the cultural heritage created by both Kantor and Schaeffer for the Demarco European Art Foundation’s contribution to the 2015 Edinburgh Festival.
The visual arts and the performing arts are entwined in their art. They are polymaths; both were introduced to the English-speaking cultural life under the aegis of The Demarco Gallery’s contribution to the official programme of the 1972 Edinburgh Festival. Over fifty Polish artists were introduced, bringing with them what Kantor defined as the spirit of the true avant-garde.
November began with an exhibition of the drawings I first made in 1978 for the exhibition I was invited by Tom Wilson as Director of The Henderson Gallery. These drawings were inspired by what I define as The Road to Meikle Seggie. The 2014 version of this exhibition took place at Scotland’s Storytelling Centre on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Donald Smith, who over recent years has caused the Storytelling Centre to be regarded as a key manifestation of Scottish culture, has decided to re-publish the book published by The Henderson Gallery in 1978 which accompanied that exhibition. I felt obliged to make it in order to define the nodal points on the Road I had explored, linking Scotland with the European Continent. Now I have made a new set of these drawings. They will illustrate this new publication, published by Edinburgh’s Luath Press for The Storytelling Centre in collaboration with Scotland’s Italian Cultural Institute. It will be a bi-lingual publication in Italian and English. The text is unaltered from 1978 and, although written over a quarter of a century ago, it more or less sums up my attitude to the ways in which what we now know as the 21st century world of culture is dangerously influenced by the economic forces of the market place and the ever-increasing weight of materialism influencing politics, economics, culture, education, health and society in general.
The Edinburgh book launch of ‘The Road to Meikle Seggie’ this month took place on the 10th of December at Robert McDowell’s Summerhall Arts Centre. This will be followed by its English book launch in the world of Caroline and Francis in Aldeburgh in the New Year. I can think of no better way than presenting a book launch than by associating it with my appreciation of Janet Treloar’s exhibition in Norwich Cathedral for the simple reason that Janet Treloar took the trouble to explore many of the regions of Europe that I associate with The Road to Meikle Seggie. These nodal points are associated with the medieval pilgrim routes and the roads taken by the medieval scholars on their way between universities as far apart as St. Andrews, Oxford, Cambridge, The Sorbonne in Paris, Padua, Bologna and Rome. This is the 18th century world ofThe Grand Tour which inspired so many British artists, writers, philosophers, academics and art patrons. It is also the road of religious pilgrimage which links the Canterbury pilgrims with those of St. Andrews and Santiago di Campostella.
On 14th December, Karolina Czerska and Josef Chrobak plan to fly from Krakow to Edinburgh to help plan an exhibition in Krakow’s MOCAK museum inspired by the fact that Joseph Beuys and Tadeusz Kantor met under the aegis of The Demarco Gallery’s Edinburgh Arts programme as part of the 1973 Official Edinburgh Festival exhibition programme. .
Two Edinburgh University post-graduate art historians, Shelby Lakins and Lilla Kelemen are focusing on the Demarco Archive with special regard to the art of Paul Neagu and Joseph Beuys. This weekend they are with Mags Russell andJohn Saith in their Dalriadic world of Argyll. They are meeting my good friends, Colin Lindsay-MacDougall and Sarah Suttie. The Lindsay-MacDougall family are descended from the historic Celtic seafarers, the ‘Lords of the Isles’. They are following in the footsteps of those Edinburgh Arts’ artists who found inspiration, as did Beuys and Neagu, in that legendary world where Apollo finds it necessary to travel towards ‘The Hyperborean’, ‘the land beyond which The North Wind blows’far from his Grecian home in Delphi.
On Saturday 20th, Loretto School will commemorate the miracle of The 1914 Christmas Truce which took place during World War 1 when German and British soldiers found it possible to celebrate the Feast of Christmas. This extraordinary commemoration will mark the centenary of the one-day Truce with the unveiling of a stained glass window in the Loretto Chapel. It was a Loretto schoolboy who was involved in this stopping of warfare for one sacred day. He was Archibald Buchanan-Dunlop. He had a distinguished military career in The Boer War after leaving school in 1889. He returned to Loretto as a teacher of drawing and gymnastics and was responsible for establishing the Loretto Officer Training Corps in 1910. On the outbreak of First World War, he returned to his military service with The Royal Berkshire Regiment so that, as a serving officer on that unforgettable Christmas morning, he had a copy of the Loretto School Christmas Carol Service. It had been posted to him by his mother and sisters. Of course, the carol singing was a notable feature of that miraculous event. London’s Daily Sketch reported that ‘Major Buchanan-Dunlop was one of the moving spirits of this wonderful Christmas Truce’. When The Great War ended, he had been promoted to Lt. Colonel and as such returned to Loretto and later became the School’s first Bursar until 1937. He died in 1947, the year when The Edinburgh International Festival came into being with the express purpose of using the language of all the arts as a healing balm to help heal the wounds of war.
Sadly, 2014 was marked by the deaths of many good friends. Among them were Michael Spens and Bill Wright, David McLennan, Mary Burkett, David Jansheski, John Bellany, Ramona McEwen, Alastair Reid and Roy Oxlade. Mary Burkett was an influential defender of the genius of Kurt Schwitters and the former Director of Kendal’s Abbot Hall Gallery. She was someone who took felt as an art medium as seriously as Joseph Beuys. David Jansheski was an outstanding American participant in the Edinburgh Arts expeditions of 1975 and 76. David McLennan was an unforgettable promoter to theatre in Scotland. I will forever associate him with John McGrath and the world of the 7:84 Theatre Company, and his brilliant concept of the theatre programme known as ‘A Play, A Pie and A Pint’ in Colin Beattie’s Oran Mor arts centre. Michael Spens who until his death, together with Janet McKenzie Spens, the Australian artist and art historian, co-edited ‘Studio International’, the world’s oldest art journal. Michael Spens was one of the most influential and important art patrons in Britain and an outstanding architectural historian and, indeed, a highly-gifted architect. Roy Oxlade was also a highly-gifted patron of the arts and editor of ‘Blunt Edge’. As such, he was a defender of the truth behind any manifestation of true and enduring art. His widow, Rose Wylie, is the octogenarian winner of 2014 The John Moore’s Prize. I am forever grateful to them for introducing me to the writings of Sister Anselma Scolard who remains, for me, the most insightful writer on all aspects of the arts from her life as an artist and a Benedictine nun. When I think of Bill Wright, I think of his directorship of The Sydney Biennale and his gifts as a teacher at Winchester School of Art. He was also an extraordinarily gifted painter who I was proud to exhibit in the early days of The Traverse Art Gallery and The Demarco Gallery in Edinburgh and Warsaw. I associate Bill Wright with John Bellany when I found myself teaching with both of them and Bill Crozier at Winchester School of Art in the early seventies.
A congregation of every imaginable representative of the art world filled to capacity St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh to honour the death of John Bellany. I cannot forget the funeral oration made by his fellow artist and life-long friend, Sandy Moffat. It summed up the importance of a life lived whole-heartedly committed to the act of painting. Ramona McEwen (neeHofmannsthal) was the widow of Rory McEwen who died in 1982. Rory McEwen was one of Britain’s outstanding artists and friend of Joseph Beuys. Romana McEwen was the daughter of Ava Astor. I was pleased to note that Romana McEwen’s funeral took place in my favourite Roman Cathalic church in London at St. James’s, Spanish Place. Alastair Reid was a great friend of Rory McEwen and it was he who introduced me in 1970 to his New York painter friend, Jon Schueler. He invited me down to his houseboat moored on The Thames at Chelsea Reach to look at one of Jon Schueler’s paintings and to tell me the story of how Jon Schueler had chosen to live and work in the studio converted from the schoolhouse at Mallaig. It overlooked the island of Skye across the waters of The Sound of Sleat. From the studio’s hilltop views he enjoyed, he painted a suite of oil paintings which I gladly exhibited at The Demarco Gallery in Melville Crescent. I thus introduced the art of an artist who was a friend of Mark Rothko and Jack Tworkov and who benefited from being part of Leo Castelli’s New York Gallery to the British art world. Alastair Reid also introduced me to his fellow New York writer, Brendan Gill, and also introduced me to his friend, the poet Jorge Luis Borges. I look forward to the exhibition honouring Jon Schueler to be presented in the art gallery of the Gaelic University on Skye next summer. All these artists are surely the embodiment of the art work associated with the coming into being of The Demarco Archive in the sixties and seventies. They all define the history of meaningful and enduring contemporary art against the onslaught of nonsensical artistic movements nowadays dominant in the international art world.
I am preparing for two important meetings. One is on 9th December with The Scottish Government’s Steering Committee, set up to help secure the future of The Demarco Archive as a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’- this ‘total art work’ has resulted from countless collaborations with international artists over seven decades.
The other meeting is on 17th December at The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. It is with Ben Thomson, Chairman of The National Galleries of Scotland, with Sir John Leighton, Director-General of The National Galleries of Scotland, and with Simon Groom, Director of The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
This meeting will determine the future relationship between The National Galleries of Scotland and The Demarco Archive Trust. They must surely work together to ensure the future and safe-keeping of The Demarco Archive as an academic resource and as an unique art work for the 21st century.
p.s. since writing this newsletter the launch of the Luath Press bi-lingual publication of 'The Road to Meikle Seggie' took place on the 10th December at Summerhall and was well attended. I was pleased to see the book selling so well and to have present Donald Smith, the Director of the Storytelling Centre and Stefania Del Bravo, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Edinburgh, as well as Carlo Penette, The Italian Consul General for Scotland.
Hopefully this book launch is the first of a number taking place in Britain. One is already planned in Aldeburgh as I have mentioned. I must consider another book that brings my explorations of The Road to Meikle Seggie up to date in the new year, 2015. The hardback is £25 pounds and the paperback is £13. If you wish to purchase a copy direct form the publisher the address is Gavin MacDougall, 543/2 Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh and their email is email@example.com.
"The Road is Scottish and universal but passionately grounded in love of the particular. Here Demarco articulates a rooted creative response to the growing environmental crisis."
"As Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Edinburgh, it is a real privilege for me to take an active part in the new edition of Richard Demarco's The Road to Meikle Seggie which will also be translated into Italian.
The idea of a journey as the central experience of our lives, the spur for new experiences and discoveries, the search for a dialogue and interchange with 'the other, the different from me' are - I strongly believe - the deepest sense and message of a culture.
That's why I accepted with enthusiasm the invitation to be involved in this very special project and to support it.
Of course all my gratitude goes to the Edinburgh International Storytelling Festival and its Director Donald Smith for his idea - absolutely brilliant - to include an initiative focused on Richard Demarco's book in the program of the Storytelling Festival 2014, and to the author of this unique book which - I am sure - will be enjoyed by a large public of readers in Scotland and Italy."
RICHARD DEMARCO’S DIARY NOTES – DECEMBER 2014
Mon 1 Edinburgh: Lilla and Shelby; 5.45 pm DAT board meeting
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