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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)

Friday, 4 March 2011

Norman Kirkham @ 75

The art world in Scotland is a small one...
The other day, I dropped in to The Pictures studio in Port Dundas (www.the-pictures.co.uk) to catch up with photographer Ken Mellin. There's always loads of interesting work in at Ken's studio.
His own photography is fantastic. Do you know the backdrop which Jackie Bird sits in front of in Reporting Scotland? Well, that's Ken's picture. The chances are you'll have seen his work on the walls of public buildings or on TV without knowing it.
He's been involved with film and tv work for years.
You might not have seen it but a recent BBC Scotland-made lesbian drama called Lip Service (awful turgid stuff...got completely panned) had a a photographer character in it who was schooled in the the whys and wherefores -nearly said ins and outs- of how to act like a photographer by Ken. He also shot the stills which were shown on screen. It's just one tale in the life of Mr Mellin.
Maybe I'll suggest he writes a book...
Anyway, artist, photographer, actor and all round Renaissance Man, Charlie Jamieson and I had arranged to meet there, but no sooner had we picked up the chocolate digestives than in walked artist Norman Kirkham and his partner, the renowned film and TV producer Paddy Higson. (Google Paddy's name and marvel at the sheer volume of cracking film and tv projects she's been involved with...)
Paddy had been emailing me (via Ken - see what I mean vis a vis small world) about Norman's forthcoming exhibition at Roger Bilcliffe's gallery in Glasgow so I'd had a chance to look at some of his work on my laptop.
Seeing it in the flesh is another matter and here it was - in a darkened corner of Ken's studio, all 55 paintings framed and ready to be transported into the gallery.
So up went the lights and Charlie and I had our own private view of Norman's new work with Norman talking us through some of his thoughts and observations on the work. There's a cheeky/poignant take on a soldier's farewell to Glasgow inspired by a chance listen on R4 to a programme about syphilis. The title is a clever play on Mercury and Venus... need to go see again to remind myself.
Norman's palette veers from vivid, sun-drenched blues, greens and yellows (the sunflowers) to muted tones. No painting is the same, he says.
There is some lovely work. All quite different - tho there is a penchant for sunflowers flowing through it.
Here's the info sent by Paddy:

Roger Billcliffe Gallery, Blythswood Street, Glasgow
March 5 – 29 2011

In November this year Norman Kirkham, one of Scotland’s foremost painters, celebrates his 75th birthday, and says that he is working almost as hard as ever “…… most days, even before brushing my teeth, my first port of call is the studio.

My love affair with drawing and painting started over seventy years ago - one of my earliest memories is of sitting in the air-raid shelter of our Maryhill tenement drawing on the whitewashed walls. I have been drawing on various surfaces ever since.”

Over the years Kirkham has won numerous awards and has exhibited in Glasgow, London, Edinburgh, Hong Kong and Holland. In 1987 he was elected a painting member of the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, and was its chief hanger for a number of years.

He is a Past Honorary Secretary of the RGI and Past President of the Glasgow Art Club.

During the Edinburgh Festival in 2004 Norman Kirkham painted a portrait of Scottish Comedian and actor, Elaine C Smith before an audience in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery as part of their “Scottish Women” show… it was hard to decide who was the more entertaining as Kirkham clearly enjoys performing in front of an audience!

At seventy-five, Kirkham is painting as strenuously and prolifically as ever, and continues his love affair with colour and the tactile quality of paint. This exhibition includes Still Life, several portraits as well as landscapes.
Norman Kirkham reiterates… “Most of all I love colour and the tactile and sensuous quality of paint – it still excites me. I don’t choose to paint; it is something that I have to do.”

Norman Kirkham RGI
Born Glasgow 1936
Training – Glasgow School of Art 1953-1958

He has been an Interior Designer and Furniture Designer and has held various teaching appointments at the Glasgow School of Art

He is a Past President of the Glasgow Art Club; he was elected a painting member of The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts in 1987 and is a past Honorary Secretary of the Institute. He was a hanger for a decade or more.

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