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Jings, Oor Wullie artist gets a ‘blue plaque’

Oor Wullie illustrator, Dudley D Watkins made an enormous contribution to Scottish popular culture. Picture: Contributed

Oor Wullie illustrator, Dudley D Watkins made an enormous contribution to Scottish popular culture. Picture: Contributed

  • by STEPHEN MCGINTY
 

AN ENGRAVED bucket may have been more appropriate, but Dudley D Watkins, the celebrated illustrator of Oor Wullie and The Broons, is to be honoured with a commemorative plaque.

The artist who worked for 40 years at DC Thomson and who died at his drawing board in 1969 is one of the historic figures to be honoured in the first year of the Commemorative Plaque Scheme for Scotland.

Modelled on the blue plaques administered by English Heritage in London, the new Scottish plaques will be fixed to the person’s previous home or a building where they lived or which was synonymous with their achievements.

Among the recipients of plaques are Archibald Findlay, who produced the first blight- resistant potato, and Adam Christie, who spent 49 years at Sunnyside psychiatric hospital in Montrose, where he made striking sculptures using only a six-inch nail and an old file.

Others include John Logie Baird, who invented the television in 1926 and Donnchadh Bàn Mac an t-Saoir, a Gaelic poet who died in 1812.

The first batch of names in what will be an annual event were announced yesterday by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs.

The nominations were submitted by the public and the final list chosen by an independent panel of experts with the first year of the scheme celebrating the Year of Creative Scotland.

Dudley D Watkins (1907-1969) made an enormous contribution to Scottish popular culture. He is best known for iconic Scottish characters Oor Wullie, who was never happier than when sitting on his upturned steel bucket, and The Broons which Watkins drew for the Sunday Post from 1936 until his death in 1969.

Watkins also illustrated characters including Lord Snooty for the Beano and Desperate Dan for the Dandy among others.

Ms Hyslop said: “The Commemorative Plaque Scheme highlights the range of incredible creativity shown by the talented people in Scotland, celebrating individuals such as Dudley D Watkins, illustrator for DC Thomson whose well-loved characters from Oor Wullie and The Broons still bring humour and joy into our lives.

“It also commemorates historic figures who have made a significant contribution to Scotland and the world including television pioneer John Logie Baird, steam pioneer James Watt, Scottish colourist Francis Cadell and Archibald Findlay, the Fife potato geneticist who produced the first blight-resistant potato, making the food safe from disease.”

Watkins was nominated by Frank Boyle, the cartoonist for the Edinburgh Evening News. He said: “I was delighted to nominate Dudley D Watkins for a commemorative plaque. I absorbed his cartoon strips as a child and he had a big influence on my own work.

“I went to art college in Dundee and I started my career at

DC Thomson, so it was good to return to the city to see the plaque unveiled. I hope it helps to give Dudley D Watkins the respect he deserves and to increase the prestige of cartooning as an art form.”

The scheme is also expected to re-kindle interest in figures who may have been forgotten such as Adam Christie, who made more than 200 sculptures during the 49 years he lived in Sunnyside hospital, but who, on his death in 1950, was buried in a pauper’s grave. Among the others celebrated are Louisa Stevenson and Christian Guthrie, who in the 19th century founded Queen Margaret College and the Edinburgh School of Cookery as well as playing a role in the movement for social equality.

Frank Boyle

He was nominated by Frank Boyle, the cartoonist for the Edinburgh Evening News.

He said: “I was delighted to nominate Dudley D Watkins for a commemorative plaque. I absorbed his cartoon strips as a child and he had a big influence on my own work.

“I went to art college in Dundee and I started my career at DC Thomson, so it was good to return to the city to see the plaque unveiled. I hope it helps to give Dudley D Watkins the respect he deserves and to increase the prestige of cartooning as an art form.”

The others to be honoured with plaques are Gaelic poet Donnchadh Ban Mac an t-Saoir, Louis Dickson, the Bo’ness cinematographer and film pioneer, Adam Christie, a sculptor and artist from Shetland, and Louisa Stevenson and Christian Guthrie Wright - founders of Queen Margaret College and Edinburgh School of Cookery.

Norman McLaren, the Stirling-born experimental filmmaker and electronic music pioneer, Francis (Fra) Newber, head of the Glasgow School of Art from 1885 to 1918, and Hamish MacCunn, a composer, have also been chosen.

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The Scotsman cartoon: Oor Wullie and Alex Salmond

 

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