Friday, 17 May 2019

Victoria Morton's painting Soliton Kelvingrove


At Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, from the Hamilton Bequest (since 1927), there are world-renowned works by Glasgow Boys William Kennedy, Scottish Colourist Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell and painter Joan Eardley as well as Monet's View of Ventimiglia and The Young Girls by American Impressionist Mary Cassatt.

The final paintings are by Scottish abstract painter Victoria Morton's Soliton hangs at the gallery's south east stairs next to Salvador Dali's Christ of St John of the Cross.
As an art student, she came to Kelvingrove and was inspired by the Scottish Colourists and the French Impressionist collection. The colours in her work and the broken brush she is looking back to past master examples: a sensory experience.



" Morton's paintings are closely connected to her practice as a musician (she sings as well as playing bass recorder, piano and analogue synthesizer). Working through painting, sculpture, found objects, photography and sound, the artist explores colour perception, expression and non-verbal communication. "They were very open-minded," 



Morton, "I wanted to make a series of works where people could just walk in and experience them all at once, almost like they were different movements in a piece of music. I was thinking about broad and universal themes like light and sound and the physics of sound. The name Soliton comes from a type of wave form that exists in nature and also in physics. I was interested in that sound aspect because I work with music as well. "Soliton is quite a sensory piece. There is a direct connection to music and waveforms. I wanted to make a large scale, abstract expressionist painting that relates to real experiences. I love colour and the effect it has. Colour is a type of waveform, so there are different frequencies at play.”


Scottish Women Writers

*Catherine Carswell 1876 – 1946
Carswell wrote of the worlds of Europe and Glasgow. Carswell was a professional reviewer for the Herald newspaper. She wrote of great women characters of modern fiction: vulnerable, tough, bright and strong. 

Biography Robert Burns (1930):The Sage Pilgrimage (1932); the Tranquil Heart (1937),
The Scottish world is not for Joanna: Italy and Europe must be experienced before she can fully inhabit her potential


*Nan Shepherd(1893 – 1981)
`The Quarry Wood, The Weatherhouse, A Pass in the Grampians. Shepherd wrote of identity and freedom; landscape and spirituality; responsibility and choice. Her most famous book is  The Living Mountain (1977).


*Willa Muir (1890 – 1970)
Women: An Enquiry (19250, Mrs Grundy in Scotland (1936), Imagined corners (1931); Mrs Ritchie (1933), Living with ballads (1963); Belonging (1968)

Aileen Christenson’s critical study moving in circles on Willa Muir’s writings (2007)

All three have either place in any canon of modern literature, write Alan Raich. Scotland should be glad to give them acclaim.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Our Culture of Violence (posted in 2005)


I’m writing about the tragic death of a young 20yr-old boy ( he was a tall rugby player) who lived behind us here in a northern suburb of Glasgow. He was violently and indiscriminately attacked in the centre of Glasgow by two youths.  A recent study from California cited Scotland as having the highest rates of Youth violence in the world. When it reaches so close to home, it shocks and horrifies us all. 

As I pick up the Evening Times I read of further attacks. Apparently the two Youths involved in the random attack, injured several others the same night. My son works as a junior doctor in Glasgow and those on call in the Infirmary talked of the numbers brought in injured that same night. It was a Friday night after an Old Firm clash. 

We live in a Culture of Violence, that starts in the home and spread out into the community at large. Add to this a cocktail of alcohol over-indulgence and ease of access to drugs, and you have a lethal combination, a powder keg just waiting to explode.  

 Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, recently suggested in the press that it was time for an Open Debate on this pressing subject.  Perhaps we need to look at other cosmopolitan areas such as New York, which used to have a high level of violence, and adopted a zero tolerance approach several years ago – which meant targeting young criminals and the smallest crimes, before it leads to the more serious ones.  My daughter was there this summer and found New York a safer city to walk around in than Glasgow. We also need to tackle the alcohol and drug abuse problems, through education and through stricter laws on selling alcohol to the very young.   

The introduction of laws banning physical violence in the home may help to raise awareness that violence towards others is not acceptable behaviour in our society. This also raises questions about our society’s attitude to violence generally, as a way of controlling others. There are other more successful ways of coping with problems and with young children. Another problem is the severe lack of male role models for many young boys growing up here, and the fact that Scotland has such a high rate of single parent families.

The second issue is attitudes to binge drinking. We glorify ‘being drunk’ and ‘binge drinking’ in Scotland – as if it is something to be proud of.  A whole generation is being caught up in a cheap triple alcoholic haze. Do we care? Well we should. We set the example by what we do and say. My view is it is the entire ‘Culture’ and attitudes here in Scotland that have to change, and not about a few experts telling the less fortunate to behave better. 

It is time we looked seriously at these and other alternative ways of behaving, before youth violence escalates even further on our streets.

Brexit Questions - Change is Coming

 As water leaks through the crumbling Westminster roofs, and its labyrinth of corridors, it has been found greatly wanting and completely unable to deal with modern challenges. The Brexit debates, like a dangerous football, have thrown everything up in the air – with no written constitution, or interactive democracy.  Other leaders are aghast at how out-of-touch and not fit for purpose Westminster is. 

Three years ago 2016 before all this Brexit happened, few really cared about whether the UK was in or out of the EU, and I never saw anyone marching on the streets over this EU question. It was simply an institution like Nato or the Commonwealth – that was an important and accepted part of our lives. (People are marching though against climate change: we may only have 10 years to save our planet!)

Britain has suffered severe upheavals and ups and downs - before the dark days of war, the strikes of the late 60s, the Thatcher years, the Iraq war during Blair. The 2008 crash crisis worldwide. It seemed that the EU offered some stability and also peace and prosperity, surely important issues? So why did those in England want to leave the EU, and blamed the EU even, with the rise of Ukip? What was going on? Is this merely an uprising of populist far right bigotry as some argue? Or something much deeper? Or why some English voters believe England is not a sovereign country that is simply operating in at trading union?

An embarrassment. Its extremely worrying the decay, incompetence  and inability to govern this whole process has highlighted. Many appear to forget the boom and bust we used to suffer in Britain before we joined the EU 40 years ago. It meant high interest rates, inflation and all kinds of suffering and uncertainty. That’s what will be in store for us again once we leave the stability provided by being in the EU. This is partly driven by the fact that Germany in particular, always aims for a stable economy based on solid manufacturing, rather than the uncertainty and debt -ridden roulette of the London financial markets. 

The UK has been led by a poor leader, who is unable to empathize or collaborate? Why are MPs pursuing an ill-thought out policy that will make us all poorer? Why was there no real planning or idea of what Brexit really meant? What was it really all about?  Restoring past glories? Keeping the UK union together, when the cracks only get wider? Restoring Britishness’ and Union jacks? I'm really worried about the Americanization here in the UK and the privatising of health care and more. Where will it all lead?

The British Tory ship steams ahead, with no destination, no captain, and no map. What are we Scots to do? Can Brit Nats and Scots Nats exist side by side? Should we scramble for life rafts – or accept this laughable chaos? Or instead take control of our own Scottish resources? For now we need to let the anchors rise and the dust settle – and why does Nicola have explain her every move, when other politicians explain nothing?  Why are our respected MPs snubbed as irrelevant? Its insulting to the Scots nation.

Scotland needs to protect its significant resources by emulating countries like Norway (which is in EFTA) and also sets regulations to protect its environment, industries and by promoting Norway’s own oil company (which prevents multi-nationals exploiting their wealth). There are many examples of small, indy nations that operate very successfully in a larger trading block. There are no examples of a country operating successfully in a trading block, and then deciding to leave these treaties with no plan over its future! All we know is Brexit means leaving present agreements, but not what it actually wants! What a mess.

Why I want independence
I believe a nation is best served making its own decisions, in its own best interests – and that those in a foreign nation are not best able to make decisions for us. To flourish, Scotland must break free of the chains of English colonization and be an independent European nation once again.