Whitehill Former Pupils’ Club

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Alasdair Gray at Whitehill

Alasdair  was an enthusiastic participant in the Literary and Debating Society and the Student Christian Movement when at Whitehill. He flourished in art and english.  If you read “An Essay in the Future Tense” (See below) you will be amazed that such a young mind, in 1951, could have such insight to create his own version of “The Curriculum For Excellence” in such a humorous way.

An early indication of his attitude to life may be gleaned from the “Warning” at the end of “The Student Christian Movement. (See below)

He disregards the work he did at school in his book,”A Life in Pictures” but it is obvious that this was a talent that should have been nurtured rather than being suppressed.

Elements of his early artwork from 1952 can be seen to be developed and evolved through his later work.

Sadly, the advice he received when leaving school was that he was sufficiently qualified to become a trainee librarian or to do “something” in art.

Click button above to see Alasdair Gray discuss his processes in writing.



9th February

Public for the firts time: huge mural by Alasdair Gray from 1965 goes on display in Glasgow


Alasdair Gray pictured at the Lighthouse, Glasgow. In the background is a reworking of a 1965 mural he created for a private house in Glasgow’s West End. The four meter high piece has never before been seen by the general public.

FOR half a century, it has adorned the stairwell of a private house in Glasgow's west end, a take on the day of judgement as unique as its polymath creator.

Now the mural artwork, created by the artist and writer Alasdair Gray in 1965, can be seen by the general public for the first time.

Four metres high - the same scale as the art work in its home in a house overlooking Glasgow's Botanic Gardens - the work has been re-created from the original by Gray, 83, and expanded to its large size with computer technology and re-hung as a print.

The piece, which will be on show at The Lighthouse in Glasgow from February 12 as part of Gray's new Facsimilization exhibition,

Gray, was present at the unveiling of the artwork yesterday, still confined to a wheelchair after his fall of 2015.

He collaborated with Roger Farnham, an engineer, photographer and printmaker, and Lin Chau, an artist who worked with Gray on the Hillhead Subway station mural, on the newly created work.

Gray has changed some of the details of the design for its new display: it has a new poem, and the central female figure - a "mother earth goddess" - now has a golden halo around her head.

Gray created the mural in 1964/5 and it is now in the home owned by Roland and Sandra Phelps, friends of the artist and veteran CND campaigners.

He took over two months to create the original for his friend George Singleton.

The artist said: "I had always wanted to restore it, it has faded and been slightly damaged over the years, but with my legs being as they are, I couldn't reach to renew it.

"Some points are now renewed on the print, as I redrew some areas."

He added: "I am pleased with it, it looks very different of course, with new elements of colour in it, and Roger and Lin have done quite a good job making a print that size."

Gray created several murals, including one in a Church of Scotland church which was demolished, for a motorway extension in Glasgow which in the end was never built.

He also painted murals in a church in Clarkston, a venue in Cumbernauld, and Abbots House in Dunfermline, as well as his most well known: in the Hillhead underground station, at the Oran Mor venue in Glasgow.

He is currently planning a new mural for the Scottish Parliament building.

Gray said he is busy: he is designing the jacket for the 'hell section' of his new edition of Dante's Divine Trilogy, for Canongate Books.

"The hell section is supposed to come out, with my illustrations, for Christmas this year," he said.

"But I am also working on the sketch for the mural for the Scottish Parliament. I have still to complete the initial sketch. I have yet to finish it."

Sandra and Ronald Phelps inherited the mural when they moved into the home in 1983.

"There is a greater colour to it, and some of the details have been changed," Mrs Phelps said.

"It is an incredible work of art - we never intended to own a Gray mural, if happened by accident, but we love it."

The exhibition also includes wood engravings based on details of the original work.

It also includes a photograph by Oscar Marzaroli - a neighbour of Roger Farnham in 1965 - of Gray working on the mural that was later published in Marzaroli’s book Shades of Grey.

The show runs from February 12 to March 25.

Councillor David McDonald, Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “Alasdair Gray is widely considered to be Scotland’s greatest living artist being both a leading figure in Scottish literature and visual art, and I am delighted that he has brought this exhibition to The Lighthouse.

"His work is loved by Glaswegians, and giving people this unique opportunity to view a work that relatively few people have ever seen in the flesh makes this a must-visit exhibition."