Monday, December 21, 2009

NEA Arts report

Are we moving from passive consumption to active creation? if one is optimistic that is one possible interpretation of the American study NEA report
which shows a national decline in all arts and sports where there is passive consumption.

There's another scenario: would people rather consume arts and sport via digital media in the comfort of their own homes rather than sit with strangers in some expensive location...just a thought?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Celebrations for centenary of Macintosh building - people gathering for the projections on three sides of the building

Professor Roger Wilson, Head of Fine Art, Glasgow School of Art in his studio

View from the staircase

The Loggia, better known as "the hen run".

Attended the centenary celebrations of the Macintosh building yesterday. Place heaving with celebrities, politicians, and the movers and shakers from the international art world including Tony Jones , former Head of GSA and now with The School of the Art Insitute, Chicago.

Met the new Head of Fine Art, Professor Roger Wilson in his studio where he was painting and chatting to visitors ( nice touch!). He comes to Glasgow from Chelsea College of Art and Design.

I graduated in 2001 and it was good to be back in the Macintosh building. It reminded me again that the building is a "feast for the eyes", not surprising since Charles Rennie Macintosh, a part-time student, knew what art students wanted.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Amateurs versus professional artists

Iphone art: "dancing"

That hoary old chestnut "amateur versus professional artists" has reared its head again as the debate over Open Studios begins.

Pointed out to a professional artist friend that participants will have to pay only to be told:"they can afford it because they have jobs and paint part-time".
Oh dear!.... why can't everyone accept that there different strands of art and many different kinds of art and artists.

Let the public decide!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Forth Valley Artist Open Studios

I am still reeling from the shock of discovering at yesterday's meeting of Forth Valley Artists that no data base exists of artists in the area! I would have thought it would have been the first job of any Visual Arts Officer to make certain that he/she had an up-to-date list of all artists.

This accounts for the poor response to our first meeting - 10 plus our two guest speakers. I had assumed ( wrongly as it turned out) that the Changing Room gallery, a local funded gallery by the council, had a list. It was only discovered half way through the meeting that most of the people attending had not received an email from the Changing Room informing them of the meeting.

Later discovered a "glitsch". Sure enough the new Visual Arts Officer confirmed that such a list does not exist. Unless artists have approached them for grants or signed their Visitors Book then they have no record of their existence.

Now Perthshire artists have a very active art scene . They have a flourishing Visual Arts Forum which provided a data base for the Perthshire Open Studios to work from.

We have to start from scratch.....

Friday, December 11, 2009

e-Christmas card

Take time out from writing Christmas cards and view this e-card sent out by Glasgow School of Art.
Is this the way forward?

This card is colourful, lively, interactive and what's more environmentally sound , oh yes and its free!

er....if the link doesn't work try this:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Dancer"drawn on my Iphone while travelling into Edinburgh by train.
Who says you need a studio now to create work?

Have put posters out for the open meeting for Forth Valley Open Studios. Response so far is good. Meeting fixed for Saturday December 12 in the Changing Room gallery's eduation room- courtesy of Arts Officer Emma Hamilton, Stirling.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The link economy- and artists

"Fish" created on my Iphone

In this new online world of the linked economy- OK I don't really understand it either but the world is shifting under our feet even though we may be standing still-I am not certain where artists fit in.

What sort of work do we make and how do we sell it? some pointers to the future come in today's Guardian"Money" section Tot Taylor , director of the Riflemaker gallery makes some predictions:

"It will be about formats and mediums ( new and old), not so much painting, sculpture and photography but more textiles and tapestries, digital art, gardening art, Eco at, all things cosmic, woodcuts and even wax."

Oh yes, and "outsider art".

Collapse of newspapers

I used to work on newspapers and I still love the feel of them and read them avidly. So it was with great sadness I heard yesterday that two of my favourite supplements Guardian IT and Observer Business and Media are about to be pulled. Yes, another sign of the rapidly changing world we live in.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Cafe Flicker, open cinema Glasgow

If you are interested in making films, especially low budget ones on a shoestring, then a visit to Cafe Flicker, the monthly open cinema in Glasgow is a must. It's run by Glasgow Media Access Centre and I have been a member for years , first introduced to it while a student at Glasgow School of Art.

They have moved into their smart new building on the 5th floor of 103 Trongate.

The standard has shot up - something we attribute to the ease of new digital technology and falling price of decent camcorders. Eleven films were shown on Wednesday night and they ranged from a documentary on Romanian gypsies singing, never seen footage of an interview with George Harrison, ( yes of the Beatles!) to a community documentary on the Citizens community theatre in the Gorbals.

Oh yes we had experimental films too and the funniest was one involving a frog...

Monday, November 02, 2009

Iphone art - David Hockney

My first attempts with "Brushes" the Iphone drawing app.

I was interested to read in last Sunday's Observer profile in the colour magazine on David Hockney , that he uses the Iphone app "Brushes".

He has always been known to be a fan of new technologies - remember his fax art?- so it was inevitable that he would "discover" the Iphone as a painting tool.

What's more he's 72 years of age.

Well, I have just loaded this app on to my Iphone .
Here's some tentative results...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Buena Vista Social Club- Glasgow

Saw the film Buena Vista Social in New York so was curious to see this bunch of musicians live last night.
I was not disappointed. They played to a packed audience in Glasgow's Royal concert hall and they had them on their feet clapping, singing and dancing.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Forth Valley Open Studios

Have started to sound out people who may be interested in opening their studios to the public next year - Perthshire and Fife already run very successful Open Studio weekends.
Among the first to express an interest is Polish textile artist Ewa Kuniczak . Her website feltheadtotoe is worth checking out.

It is just one example of the vast amount of talent lurking in the Scottish hills around here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Screenprinting - The Big Draw

My first screenprint : "Untitled"

Thanks to the national arts project "The Big Draw" which aims to get everyone drawing I got a chance to try my hand at screen printing in a workshop held at The Tolbooth, Stirling .

Our tutor, Andrew Mackenzie managed in three hours to give us an intensive introduction to the process which ended up with us all walking away with several screen prints each! quite an achievement!

We used the current exhibition of Aladsair Gray's prints as source material. After an introduction and brief history of screen printing we were taken to the exhibition and given quarter of an hour to draw an image from which we would later develope a stencil for screen printing.

I must admit that I entered the workshop feeling a bit sceptical: how on earth could be do a screen print from scratch in such a short time? Andrew proved me wrong. I m now an enthusiast of screen printing and want to find out more.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Glasgow Print Studio

Have started to prepare work for my exhibition next February and the first piece of work I want to complete is some digital prints on Japanese paper.

Well, I went into Glasgow Print studio to discuss whether it would be possible to do this on their new printer.

"No way!" says the director standing in the middle of his state-of-the-art new printing premises.
"That machine cost us £6,000".

OK he has a point so its back home to fiddle with my own printer and try to work out why some prints are coming out so heavily inked as to be unusable.

Well, I guess it is just another hurdle that those of us working with new media face weekly if not daily. Unlike making traditional art we can't ring up a friend or seek out expert advice on how to solve these problems, because nobody has ever done it before. It is a case that we all have to work it out as we go along.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Writing- fluid process

I was interested to hear on Radio 4 this morning Jeffrey Archer discuss his book "Cain and Abel" which he has re-written after 30 years. A Professor of English literature was asked to comment and he said that in future with the introduction of electronic books we are going to be seeing a lot more of this taking place.

He said:"Writing will become a much more fluid process with books changing all the time."

Well, this is what I am discovering now for more information keeps coming in which could so easily be incorporated into "The Children of Craig-y-nos" if it was an e-book instead of a printed book.

But the fact is though that we are still of a generation that likes to hold a book in our hands.

I suspect the youngsters of today will have no such inhibitions and will take to screen reading of books like the proverbial ducks to water...

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Transmission gallery

Had a look at the new exhibition in the Transmission gallery, Glasgow. Almost didn't go in because I glanced through the window and saw what appeared to be a room full of empty canvases.

Glad I did. It shows the work of Berlin based artist Klaus Weber who is on a mission to highlight the problems of disappearing bees due to global changes. The canvases were splattered with bee excrement.

Meanwhile I am getting into a bit of a panic over my forthcoming exhibition - I hadn't realised that the space I had been allocated covered two floors! maybe I ought to find someone to share with.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Old technology and new technology

Iphone drawing

On train to Glasgow Print Studio I download a free e-book, catch up with emails, check out new range of camcorders and read a couple of newspaper articles, and do some drawings - all on my Iphone.

Realise paper plays less and less a role in my life so why am I dabbling in the past with arcane printing processes? the answer is that there is something very satisfying about making images on paper.

A useful analogy is cars: when cars replaced horses this did not mean the end of horses. Oh no, they became luxury objects , no longer the sole means of transport they are used for the sheer pleasure of riding today.

They even developed large vehicles, horseboxes, for carrying the horses around the country...

Friday, September 25, 2009

103 Trongate Arts centre

Off to the new 103 Trongate Arts Centre in Glasgow with some prints to be framed for upcoming exhibition, except I have some misgivings .

Am I just adding " objects" to an already overcrowded world? this is something that has been on my mind for some time so I was interested to read the other day that Damien Hirst has announced he will stop doing his spot paintings because the world "already has too many art objects".

Well it is OK for him having made his millions but what about the rest of us struggling to earn a crust?

So I will go into Glasgow and get my prints framed.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Macintosh on BBCIplayer

If you missed Mackintosh's Masterpiece on the BBC on Monday why not watch it on the BBC iPlayer at:

(Sorry bugs in the system link should work).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Venice Biennale 2009..

Russian art. Big Russian presence in Venice - and it was good, and challenging

Wales: John Cale- disappointing. By the way this was the only sign leading to the Welsh venue. OK they had a board outside the venue but by that time you had found the place!

Just back from Venice. Bit of a curate's egg- good in places but also some very boring stuff. How on earth did they get selected? I heard of one guy who was so incensed with the representation from his country - Cyprus- that he went along to the officials to complain.

Loved the Canadian and Icelandic contribution though bemused at the Welsh one from John Cale. Why was he water-boarded? His film was in desperate need of editing...and more editing.

Steve McQueen had timed entry to his 30 minute film. At least this was very professional but it didn't stop half the audience from walking out...
Heard that he imported the greyhounds for the filming. Couldn't help feeling that this was a bit of a fake documentary, after all it was supposed to be Venice in the winter and those dogs were the key to the film. While I was there I saw pigeons, cats and homeless people.
But no dogs.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Police Box- video, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow

"You have been spotted" Ann and Malcolm Shaw

I have just uploaded this video to Youtube. Although this public art installation for the Gallery of Modern Art was done some years ago - part of my portfolio for Glasgow School of Art- I have only now got around to editing the footage.

Looking back on it now I can see that the reason it was so successful was that it involved the public and was easily accessible.
Police Box,Glasgow

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Networking day - Changing Room, Stirling

Just attended excellent Networking day in the Changing Room, Stirling.

The consensus of opinion was that this was the best ever event we had attended for it was focused on the needs of artists working and living in Scotland.

Maybe it had something to do with the fact that it was organised by the new temporary curator Emma Hamilton, a practising artist who also comes from the area.

We are all hoping that Emma gets her contract renewed.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Directory of Welsh Artists

Received a phone call yesterday to say that I am going to be included in the next edition. There seemed to be some confusion of whether I qualified for inclusion in a directory of Welsh artists because I have lived for the past 34 years in Scotland.

However, after some discussion it was agreed that I was born in Wales, educated in Wales and have exhibited in Wales.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Digital painting and Glasgow School of Art

"Knock on the sky and listen to the sound" - digital painting

One of my first tutors at Glasgow School of Art offered the following advise : "start from something organic".

We were doing preliminary drawings for sculpture. Even now when I work in digital painting his words still echo in the back of my mind.

In the case of "Knock on the sky and listen to the sound" -Zen saying -the original was a rose I had grown in my garden. Mashing it in the computer produces something equally beautiful yet hints at the uncertainty of the new digital age we are moving into.

Monday, August 03, 2009

"Data moshing": Isle of Skye

Title: "Hot and cold" Cuillins, Isle of Skye

Have begun experimenting with datamoshing of Scottish landscape.

Next book - Sully

Have started work on my next book and today retreated to our local library with my laptop in order to escape domestic life i.e. window cleaner arrived and wanted to "convert" me to his faith. He is a Jehovah's Witness. No, not first thing on a Monday morning...

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Glasgow School of Art - library

Glasgow School of Art have asked for a copy of "The Children of Craig-y-nos" for their library, partly because they always want work by alumni for their collection and also, the librarian tells me, because of the increasing interest amongst students in the links between art and science crossover.

They have also mentioned it on the college

Glasgow School of Art have asked for a copy of "The Children of Craig-y-nos" for their library, partly because they always want work by alumni for their collection and also, the librarian tells me, because of the increasing interest amongst students in the links between art and science crossover.

They have also mentioned it on the college: Glasgow School of Art and Design blog

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Way forward for art organisations?

Maybe art organisations should look a bit more carefully at trying to make their work not only more accessible but immersive too by enrolling members of the public.
How about asking the public to select art they would like to see?

empowering audiences

Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show

Mixed bag, like a curate's egg, the kind of stuff you expect from a Degree show. Compared it to Glasgow School of Art and the overall presentation and quality of the work not on par with GSA. But textiles excellent.

It is several years since I have been to Edinburgh College of Art Degree show and I was looking forward to seeing their jewellery, ceramics and glass exhibitions. Then I learn that they have closed except for a small jewellery department. If they had a display I failed to find it.

( Edinburgh is not alone - there's a trend away from making things in art college as everyone moves on to digital media).

Found most of the sculpture dry, academic and , well, tired....though I did like the singing shoes except I almost passed it by. Asked the girl who made them why she did not at least put a sign saying that it was an audio installation which would have encouraged people to stop and listen and she replied :"I don't care if people miss it..."

Excuse me?

Found some graffiti in the downstairs loo which summed up at least one student's experience of her four years at art college:
"ECA stole my sense of self"

That's a tragedy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Venice Biennale 2009?...

Still debating whether to go to the Venice Biennale this autumn but after reading this review in the New York Times I am wondering if it is worth it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"The Journey" - new postcard

At last I have got around to having some postcards made from my digital print "The Journey". It features Loch Katrine, source of Glasgow's water supply, and the studio taps in Glasgow School of Art.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Ellis Thomas and "The Children of Craig-y-nos"

Both Carole Reeves and myself have received letters from Ellis Thomas regarding the book: "Children of Craig-y-nos":

"Have just received my copy of the book. What a marvellous production! I was
taking a first flick through it when Ann rang, asking if I'd received it!
The book I find absorbing, to be read and re-read. I thank you and Ann most
sincerely for creating something which I never thought I'd see in my time -
and all through an enquiry on the correspondence page of the local paper!"

Thank you Ellis. It is always good to have feedback.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Working with your hands?

Here's a thought: if you want to be sure of a job in the future then work with your hands. You can't outsource a spanner to India.
Check this out- the guy has a PH.D from the University of Chicago and now repairs motor-cycles.

New York Times

Friday, May 29, 2009


Danny Abse did a reading from his latest book of poems. Afterward he signed a copy .( see blog:

Gave him a copy of "Children of Craig-y-nos" which uses a quote from him in the introduction.


First a moan - access to internet dreadful hence no updates with priority going to Craig-y-nos blog when I manage to find a computer that is working.

Even Twitter is sporadic as well because Iphone ( O2) doesnt work in Hay which is a black hole. If I go up to Glasbury I can use my phone...

All this is bad news since the Hay Festival is supposed to be usisng cutting edge technology and supported by the Guardian.

They had two power cut earlier in the week which left Tony Curtis, in his wheelchair, trying to talk in darkness with his interviewer.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Well, here we are at the Hay Book Festival and for the first time in five years the weather is scorching hot. Usually its mud, rain, wellingtons and umbrellas. Tried to buy sunscreen only to discover that the small market town of Hay has sold out.

Have delivered copies of "The Children of Craig-y-nos" to the Welsh Book stand. I am delighted to see that they have given it a prominent display and three books have already sold. Considering the competition here and the big name authors floating around I think it is an achivement to have sold one let alone three on the first day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Iphone art

Using Scribble app. I drew the above on my Iphone.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Book signing at Craig-y-nos

All 200 books were sold in less than two hours. Dr Carole Reeves is busy re-ordering more.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Book launch at Craig-y-nos Castle

Dr Carole Reeves, Outreach Historian with the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London and Ann Shaw co-authors of the book "The Children of Craig-y-nos" * signing copies of the book at the recent launch in the restored Glass Conservatory in the Castle.

Some of the people present had been child patients in the Conservatory.

* Book available online from or

Dr Carole Reeves
Outreach Historian
The Wellcome Trust Centre
for the History of Medicine at UCL
183 Euston Road
London NW1 2BE

Or Val's newsagent, Ystradgynlais

Free PDF file to download from

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book launch....

Have started to get nervous. We fly from Edinburgh this afternoon to Cardiff.

Dr Reeves is horrified that the boxes from the printers books have been opened . I tell her its Wales. What does she expect? There's no way those boxes were going to remain unopened in the Castle.

Curiosity and privacy do not share the same bed in Wales.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Books arrive Craig-y-nos Castle

Just rang reception at castle. Yes all 200 books have arrived.

They look good I am told . Well neither Dr Carole Reeves nor myself have seen them for they went straight from the printers to the launch venue.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Book launch

Busy getting ready for book launch on Friday in Craig-y-nos Castle. So
far around 100 people booked in. Have asked Cynthia Mullane to do the
introduction and she has agreed . She represents the Sleeping Giant
, a local oral history charity, who have been very supportive.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

SkyTV and Youtube

Have had a request from Sky TV for one of my videos - dog herding ducks- which I made at the local agricultural show in Dunblane .

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How we will read books in the future

If you think books will remain in the same format as we know them know now - hardback or paperback- then read this from The Wall Street Journal

Book launch -May 1st Craig-y-nos Castle

So far 95 people have booked in for the lunch to launch the "Children of Craig-y-nos" book, a 40 year history of a childens TB sanatorium which I have co-authored with Dr Carole Reeves of the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London.

It will be held in Craig-y-nos Castle in the Swansea Valley.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Book- Vook

Just read that there is a device in development called a "vook" a cross between a book and a video which would enable you to read books on a variety of electronic devices and incorporate video too.

Already I find that I use my Iphone to read lots of stuff rather than log on to my main computer.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Horse riding in Jordan

I came across this scene outside Petra and I have called the video clip available on both Youtube and
"The real one trick pony"

I leave it to you to figure out whether it's real or computer fakery...

Finland...folk watching

Had a comment from Finland

Finland on sheep-shearing
Salon Sundö The Movie
Sheep shearing in October 2008 in the archipelago of Finland. No sheep-wrestling, they just walk up a ramp-and sort of enjoy the ride! Happy sheep! :-)
This is a Finnish woman designer who posted a video response.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blairlogie film show and Youtube

Who watches my stuff on Youtube? Well, Google have added a nifty tool which not only reveals the age of viewers but where they are located .

So, when I got invited to show two films at Blairlogie Village Hall prior to the main film" How to Marry a Millionaire" on Saturday I decided to google them first. Bearing in mind the audience (local) I selected two local films which have already proved popular on Youtube with combined "hits" around 40,000.

I expected the statistics to reveal they had a high Scottish, or at least British ranking.

Not at all. The clip of an eight week old European owl is watched almost in equal numbers by young men and women in the 18-35 age group in the Ukraine !

As for the five minute film of wrestling at the Bridge of Allan Games most viewers are middle-aged Austrian women!....