4th - 15th October 2011
Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 5pm
The Gallery at McNaughtan's Bookshop
3A & 4A Haddington Place, Edinburgh

My exhibition Recent Prints opens next week at the gallery attached to Edinburgh’s premier antiquarian bookshop. I originally conceived it as something different. It is good economic practice to make small prints from scraps of material and off-cuts of the tosa shojo paper I use, left over from bigger works. Having made a number of these over the years, which I exhibited mainly in Glasgow, I had the idea of collecting them under some such title as Some of My Little Ones. But the economics of this proved less sound. A small frame has four corners just as a larger one and although it may use a little less moulding is not much cheaper. I toyed with the idea of mounting groups of the prints in large frames, but when this proved unsatisfactory, I decided to show my larger current work.

My small prints could be described as genre pieces. I based them on sketches produced on public transport, in cafes etc. In my latest work I have been using a different sort of figure composition, more cohesive, less aleatory. In the absence of a grand theme what evolved were prints of people engaged, as participators or spectators, in rather absurd leisure activities. I hope it says something about the modern world.

Another group in the collection consists of one or two garden images. I know a garden in France whose owner is not there all year. He has tried to make it drought-proof and weed-resistant with low, ground-covering plants from which the more architectural ones emerge. He did not manage, however, to achieve all-year-round flowering. I became intrigued by the variety of greens on display and I tried to produce the effect within the limits of lino cutting.

Integrating into the Digital Community

I have metamorphosed from a digital immigrant into a digital emigrant, recently. My website has not been updated for ages and I haven’t posted a blog in months, the latter fact only partially accounted for by a hard drive failure. I do have a basic mobile phone (pressed on me by my wife) but I rarely use it. Actually, I seldom use a traditional phone.

Having an internet presence has proved worthwhile to some extent: the odd sale has come via my website and an all expenses-paid invitation to exhibit further a field. But there can be disadvantages too. A gallery owner has told me that she regards anything displayed on the ether as not virgin work and not worthy of being exhibited. Then there is the sort of bait that I’ve had from a New York gallery, offering to promote me for a fee. I’m not going to pay to practise as an artist.

A retreat from the computer may be more general as people become aware of the time wasted in front of keyboard and screen addicted to pointless googling. Readers of the philosopher Karl Popper may remember his searchlight theory of the mind about the futility of collecting random facts.

A digital device I do love is my radio. Test Match Special is my favourite working background and I’m able to listen to it without interruption from the Shipping Forecast and the Daily Service. I’m spared outbursts from my wife who seemed to think that the presence of the programme on Radio 4 long wave, was a personalised persecution with which I was somehow involved. Now she has her own digital set which helps to preserve domestic harmony. I only ever watched cricket on television during a coffee break. These days, even if it returned to terrestrial TV, I’m not sure I would be able to get the right channel, now that we have that little black box on top of our set.

I realise that I’m never going to pass myself off as a digital native and there is pride in keeping up ethnic traditions, consulting reference books accumulated over a lifetime, reading print without a light behind it.

But I will still continue to blog from time to time even if it is only to sort out my own thoughts. Looking at the map of my hits, there seems to be a cluster in Alaska. Perhaps Sarah Palin is a fan.