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To start with: at the end of 2017 the first new portrait of Hugh MacDiarmid since his death in 1978 was created by the artist Calum Colvin. The manner of its creation was as striking as the end result. Calum came to Brownsbank and took an exhaustive photographic record of the cottage. His studio was then set up in the Royal Scottish Academy where he worked on the portrait with public access to the work while it was being undertaken. On New Year’s day this year at the gallery Calum spoke about the work and James Robertson read some of MacDiarmid’s work. (Incidentally Calum has also done the cover of James’s superb new biography of the singer songwriter Michael Marra ‘Michael Marra -
The portrait was hung in the Royal Scottish Academy in 2018 summer exhibition. You can find out more about Calum, who manages to find time to be the Professor of Fine Art and Photography and Programme Director at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design Dundee University, and his extraordinarily fine work at his website calumcolvin.com
Photograph of National Collective, James, Alan and Denham outside Brownsbank March 2014.
In March 2014 The National Collective made a film at the cottage featuring James Robertson and Alan Riach discussing MacDiarmid. You can watch this important record by entering ‘Ode To All Rebels’ in the search box on Vimeo.com
FURTHER USEFUL LINKS
Saltire Society: www.saltiresociety.org.uk
Scottish Poetry Library: www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk
Scottish Book Trust: www.scottishbooktrust.com
James Robertson has written a piece entitled MacDiarmid and me which is being published by the Times Literary Supplement on August 3. It is a very good little memoir of his coming to and being at Brownsbank as the first writer-
THE CONCERT FOR BROWNSBANK
Friday 12th October, Biggar Corn Exchange, 7.30pm
AIDAN O’ROURKE (LAU)
with KIT DWONES (ECM RECORDS)
and JAMES ROBERTSON plus SPECIAL GUESTS
A Performance of 365 VOLUME 1
An evening of fine music and words with remarkable musicians Aidan O;’Rourke, Kit Downes and former Brownsbank fellow James Robertson.
All profits from this event will go to securing MacDiarmid’s Brownsbank for present and future generations.
TICKETS: £15, student concession £12.
See www.bigglittlefestival.com for further details.
A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle
‘And let the lesson be -
Ye needna fash gin it’s to be ocht else.
To be yersel’s -
Nae harder job to mortals has been gi’en.’