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I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on janpatience@me.com (All work © Jan Patience)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Alan Davie - In Words as well as Pictures

Recently, I posted an interview which I did earlier this year with Alan Davie (published in the July/August issue of Homes & Interiors Scotland magazine). Alan Davie celebrates his 90th birthday later this month and there are two exhibitions which no self-respecting art lover can afford to miss running concurrently in his home turf of Grangemouth and Falkirk.

Alan Davie @ 90 The Park Gallery
Callendar House, Falkirk
01324 503789
Until October 16
Alan Davie: A Retrospective of Prints, Gouaches and Drawings
4 York Arcade, Grangemouth
07842 031436
Until October 3
(Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 11am-5pm or call to arrange a viewing)

In Callendar House, alongside a host of recent work, there is a copy and transcript of one of the letters which Alan wrote to his parents in Grangemouth while stationed at Kenilworth during the Second World War.

When I visited Alan in Hertfordshire with Gillian Smith, Arts Development Officer of Falkirk Council back in May, Alan was incredibly welcoming and forthcoming. He showed us stacks of neatly bound yellowing letters which he wrote to his parents and you could have picked out any one and found yourself instantly in the Davie moment, circa 1942 when he was discovering the writing of James Joyce and Walt Whitman and Ezra Pound. The experience freed his thoughts and contributed to the future vision which he'd unleash on the world at a later date.

I love artists who are wordsmiths too. Though Davie isn't just a wordsmith, he's a musician too, not to mention all the other talents which seem to have been thrown his way...

Here is the text of the letter...

5th July 1942

This day in the cleanwashed air
This morning the rain (was) gone and
the air (was) clean and fresh like
a mountain stream. I bathe(d) in
its clear liquid looking at the blue
sky when I (awoke) smiling. I see.
I see the little brown dog prancing
on the clear golden sand of the early
morning. I hear the smooth waves
washing the beach; I see the seagrass
and the [pinks] amongst the fisherman’s nets;
the ocean bed peeping through the
waves with rock eyes. And through
between trees on the road above the
sea I breathe,the salted air over the
harbour and the grey roofs
The changing hedges are changing
to new beauties after the rain.
The wind is sweet over the meadows
the hill wood smiles in sunlight
between cloudshadows creeping.
Hawthorn berries are swelling amongst
blackberry flowers and their bees
in the appled hedge.
God ever were trees more beautiful.
than this day in the clean washed air.

I have suddenly decided to stop my new poem where it is. I can go no further. It is there for you.

I am busy on my new “Thoughts of a Sentry”
Therein I am happily experimenting with
my new ideas ever growing of the use of
words. I shall try to lead the reader
into his own imagination, let his own
imagination fill the gaps in my
vague writings. Nothing is quite clear;
much is omitted which i think unnecessary,
even to final nouns. I strive to describe
scenes by vague use of words repeated
and accentuated by repetition I see
great possibilities. By this
method I am not hindered and
halted by having to think back and
ahead towards correct grammar
and phrasing. The new technique
is all simple all-spontaneous, very
exhilarating, flowing easily from
the heart with the flow of a leisurely
rivulet between fields of brown and
white cows and contentment.
You ask if my life has changed.
There is little or no change. All is
as was with much more freedom
and no pain from having to force
my friends and comerades with hard
words. I am as free as the four winds.
I have bound all my little typed sheets with string
between the covers of an old book. it is thrilling
and inspiring.

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