Alasdair Gray: Pictures go up on show after the death of the ‘somewhat eccentric polymath’

Prints by artist and author Alasdair Gray which have never been seen by the public have gone on display five weeks after his death.

John Mackechnie MBE, Director of Glasgow Print Studio, with the work of artist, Alasdair Gray. Picture: John Devlin
John Mackechnie MBE, Director of Glasgow Print Studio, with the work of artist, Alasdair Gray. Picture: John Devlin

The exhibition at Glasgow Print Studio features 38 works created by the “somewhat eccentric polymath” over four decades.

Gray, hailed as a “genius” and “cultural trailblazer”, died on 29 December, a day after his 85th birthday, following a short illness.

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The Omnium Gatherum exhibition takes its title from a screenprint completed in 2017, two years after a fall that left him in hospital, and includes the screenprints Wakening, Boy With Spoon and To A Critic. which have never been on public display.

Glasgow Print Studio director John Mackechnie said: “We have lost the wonderful, charismatic, while somewhat eccentric polymath, Alasdair Gray.

“Feted as a writer since the publication of his seminal novel Lanark in 1981, his star 
continued to rise until the 
end for both his writing and for his amazing work in visual art.

“Alasdair made occasional prints throughout his life and later on printmaking became a major part of his artistic output.

His written language was intrinsically intertwined with the visual and we were honoured to build a lasting relationship with him, working closely with our master printmakers.

“It was a great privilege for us to know him and to work with him. He leaves behind a great legacy for future generations to experience and enjoy.”

Gray’s relationship with Glasgow Print Studio spanned four decades, with Glasgow Print Studio Press publishing his first book The Comedy Of The White Dog in 1979.

Alongside the publication of Lanark two years later, he produced a set of six printed illustrations at the studio, and went on to make many more prints over the years there.

These included a series of screenprints in 2008 in which he reimagined the TS Elliot poem The Hippopotamus in Lowland Scots, and images in his “unique and inimitable style”.

Many of the works in the exhibition are for sale with prices ranging from £600 to £1,500.

Gray produced novels, short stories, poems and visual art, as well as plays for television, radio and the stage, throughout a career that can be traced back to the 1950s.

The Glasgow School of Art graduate, who passed away the day after his 85th birthday, was described by his family as “unique and irreplaceable”.

The celebrated author was honoured with a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to Scottish literature at the Saltire Society literary awards in November.

He created several murals in his native Glasgow, while his work is also on display in galleries ranging from the V&A to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

His murals can be seen in venues including the ceiling of the Auditorium at the Oran Mor venue and The Ubiquitous Chip restaurant in Glasgow, as well as at the city’s Hillhead Subway station.

Gray’s work is to be celebrated at the Aye Write 2020 literary festival in Glasgow in March.

The exhibition at Glasgow Print Studio opened on Friday and runs until 12 April.