Back in March 2010 this illustration was used by BBC online to illustrate a series of articles on renewable energy.
When i was invited to submit ideas for an Exhibition going to Brussels, one of the themes being environment / climate change, it seemed natural to take the story behind this image and develop it further. I produced artwork concept for a comic cover and a one page silent comic strip.
These have been reproduced A1 size high quality prints by Dundee Contemporary arts centre and are currently being exhibited in Brussels at Scotland House, the Scottish Government’s EUoffice in Brussels.
The press release details by Dr Chris Murray from Dundee University are here;
G’ie Me a Spark o’ Nature’s Fire
Scottish Comics, the Environmentand Creativity
On November 30th an exhibition of 24 graphic printscurated by the University of Dundee’s Dr Chris Murray and produced by DundeeContemporary Arts opened at Scotland House, the Scottish Government’s EU officein Brussels.
Launched by Scottish Sports Minister ShonaRobison as part of Scotland House’s St Andrew’s Day celebrations theexhibition, entitled G’ie me a spark o’nature’s fire, draws on Dundee’s historic association with comics andfeatures newly commissioned prints by well-established and emerging graphicartists from across Scotland.
Comics have long been one of Scotland’smost important cultural and artistic exports. The Glasgow Looking Glass newspaper featured what several scholarsbelieve to be the world’s first modern comic in 1825, and the comics producedby DC Thomson in Dundee for nearly a century have been hugely successful. Fromthe “Big Five”, Adventure, The Rover, The Hotspur, Skipper, and Wizard, which appeared in the 1920s andlasted to the 1960s, to the ongoing popularity of characters such as Oor Wullieand The Broons, (now over 70 years old), DC Thomson has dominated Scottish (andto a certain extent, British) comics production. Their most successful titles, The Dandy and The Beano (launched in 1937 and 1938 respectively) lay claim tobeing the world’s longest running comics in continual publication (The Dandy beats Superman by one year!).
With this impressive history, it should come as no surprise that Scotlandhas produced an array of comics luminaries and leading talent. These includecomics legends such as Ian Kennedy, Alan Grant, John Wagner (born in Pennsylvaniabut raised in Scotland),Cam Kennedy, Colin MacNeil, Grant Morrison, Eddie Campbell, Mark Millar andFrank Quitely. There’s also Metaphrog, the Scottish/French partnership of JohnChalmers and Sandra Marrs, and a vibrant underground scene, with small pressand independent publishing, both in print and on the web. This includes RobMiller, David Tolmie, Ciaran Slavin, Gill Hatcher, Adam Smith, Douglas Noble,Jim Stewart, and a host of others.
This exhibition showcases talent from across Scotland, fromwell-established figures in the industry to emerging talent. The themes set by theScottish Government were energy and climate change, the marine environment,research and creativity, and freedom, justice and security, reflecting Scotland’sEU priorities. The responses were varied, but the challenges presented byclimate change was a strong theme in the final works, as were the issues raisedby the intersection of history, myth and place.
The title of the exhibition, “G’ie me a spark o’ nature’s fire” comesfrom Robert Burns’ “Epistle to J. Lapraik” (1785). The lines continue, “that’s a’ the learning I desire; then tho’I drudge thro’ dub an’ mire, at pleugh or cart, my muse, tho’ hamely in attire,may touch the heart”. Here Burn’s answers his detractors, saying that whilehe has inspiration from nature and love their criticisms cannot touch him. Thecomics medium is sometimes looked down upon, but the same defence rings true.The creativity that flows from the industry and from the artists and writerswho work in the medium speaks for itself, and can, as shown by this exhibition,address important issues such as the environment and identity.
All of the prints featured in G’ie me aspark o’ nature’s fire were produced at DCA Print Studio, where the artistshad access to a range of world-class facilities.
Dr Chris Murray, exhibition curator, said: “Scotland has along tradition of producing great comics writers and artists. In the course ofcurating this exhibition I have found that there is an incredible amount ofenergy and creativity in Scottish comics, from legendary figures such as Cam Kennedy,to emerging talent.”
Clive Gillman, Director of DCA, said:
“It’s been very exciting to see the range oforiginal work that these artists have created and to see how our Print Studiohas responded in producing such high quality prints for the exhibition in Brussels. It has been avery positive collaboration which has brought together a number of world-classareas of expertise from Dundee.”