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Counter Culture Opening Night Party

Thank you PCS and the team that hung the show for a great party and exhibition. It looks brilliant!

Counter Culture - A Workers' Art Exhibition, Whitespace, 76 East Crosscauseway, Edinburgh, EH8 9HQ. Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 September.

Coal Mouth at Whitespace
Coal Mouth, Oil Paintstick & Chinagraph Pencil on Paper , 23.5 x 18.5cm | 19 January 2016

Today, I delivered a small painting, Coal Mouth to the Whitespace Gallery, Edinburgh for the Public and Commercial Services Union, Counter Culture Workers' Art Exhibition.

PCS explain:
“Work is often something we do to get by, to get paid, to pay our bills, to have a bit of financial freedom. We spend our lives at work, sometimes unfulfilled, underpaid, under used. In Scotland’s galleries, museums and cultural institutions, workers have a huge range of skills, stories, knowledge and experience about the work they do. This knowledge is crucial to transforming and improving working lives. This project is part of a widen initiative that helps workers use their skills to talk about justice at work and to reinvigorate the cultural output of the trade union movement.
All art on display is original pieces by workers in Scotland’s cultural organisations tackling the theme of ‘work’, as well as material from the Scottish Trades Union Congress archive.”

My painting is for my grandfather who was a miner at one time in his life. He died from Tuberculosis contracted from working ‘down the pit’. This is a painting for him.

Isaiah 6:6-7(New Living Translation)
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.

7 He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”

Coal Mouth
Oil Paintstick & Chinagraph Pencil on Paper
23.5 x 18.5cm | (Frame 38.3 x 32.3 x 3cm)
19 January 2016

Coal Mouth is on top of the plinth in the photograph!

The exhibition ends 5pm Sunday 16 September.

Clockwise: Electric Everything, Sotherbys, Bowie quote, Berlin Wall 1988. © M Dawson

Last Friday night I started to paint and threw my normal caution with acrylic paint to the winds of fate! I think I’ve always had a reluctance to use a lot of paint probably due to lean times in the past and some trepidation.

Anyway, I threw paint on plywood and started a crude face, added a body and some arms and suddenly I thought, this is mildly reminiscent of David Bowie! Ok I’m not going to claim a perfect or even partial likeness but there is, to me, an essence in an expressionistic way. The essence of his Berlin period with the arm gestures from the expressionists in the Brücke Museum.

After this revelation I added the eyes and started to wonder how this had bubbled up from the depths of my subconscious. Now, Bowie is never far away from my thoughts, there isn’t a week (sometimes a day) that goes by without some of his music adding a soundtrack to whatever I’m doing. I have admired him since I was a teenager; I first visited Berlin in 1988 primarily because of him, I have explored his references and discovered so many artists (Basquiat for one), writers, thinkers and cultural icons down the years due to his passions. His influence on me is immeasurable. 

In November 2016 I went to Sotheby’s, London to see Bowie the Collector before the auction. It was very sad for me. I know auctions are about money and sales but to see so many rich people checking lots like carrion birds around the carcass upset me. If only the collection could have been offered as a loan to a gallery so that generations could be inspired, moved infected with enthusiasm . . .

The highlights of the show for me were the two Basquiat paintings, Frank Auerbach, Erich Heckel and Peter Lanyon.

My acrylic painting has the title: Electric Everything / Another Realm / Spangled Now with an additional line Memories of Berlin 1988 written on the reverse. It is my tiny tribute to a cultural titan.