It has been a very intense few weeks since I last blogged: getting the pictures finished and off to the framer, the Brookes Foundation diploma shows and other stuff I dont want to go into here. So apologies for my lack of posts. 

I will shortly update the site with the new work which opens on the 24th June. Then I am off to Cyprus for a months. cant wait as I am completely spent.

I am just watching the BBC’s Imagine programme about Howard Hodgkin. Alan Yentob is talking to him in his studio and on his journeys in India. Yentob quotes him as saying:

words are the English disease

Apparently he was refering to the english propensity to over analyse and contextual art. I was intrigued as I have often had thoughts like this since moving from Scotland in 1999 in the context of collegues and students I have worked alongside; The English do love to talk about art – but perhaps in a way which negates the power of the art, as if the art cannot stand up for itself. 

So I went digging for further quotes from Hodgkins. I found this from an interview by John Tusa from the BBC Radio 3 website

I think that words are often extraneous, perhaps, to what I do, but I work in a country where words seem to be paramount as a form of communication and I think that if I didn’t talk about my work at all, people might not even bother to look at it.


think it’s as serious as that. In other countries, in New York for example, when I had a very large exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum , there was no need for verbal communication, as far as I could make out. People would come and talk to me about my pictures, but they understood exactly what they were all about.

The words of an older orthodoxy perhaps and some might say a cop out, but I am sure he speaks for many of us who make art to say what cannot be said or to reveal what cannot be seen. 

Today I had to adhere to the four pages of EDEXCEL assessment criteria for each of my 34 students on the foundation. Everything must be explicit and nothing left to chance or not said. Every move and thought must be logged.. everything accountable. At their age I was in the trust of teachers who relied on their experience and wisdom to make judgement on what I did. Many would say this is too open to abuse and prejudice, and not transparent… Perhaps this is the english disease.

On a lighter note I am enjoying the diversion of the world cup. I love playing up to the ‘Anyone but England’ stuff as a Scot in the heart of England. Of course I dont really mean it. It just gives me a get out clause if England really stuff it up badly and I can gloat about how useless they are. The hype about the England team is nauseating, and when they play badly as they did against Paraguay, the bleating here is immense. But, if they play great football and there fans dont live up to their stereotype, then I will be delighted and might even cheer them on. Just dont tell any of my friends in Aberdeen.