On Alasdair Gray's Death

Over the last fifteen years, I have written extensively about the life and work of Alasdair Gray. Over the next few years, in my new post as Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Strathclyde, I will be working on several interrelated Alasdair Gray projects, each of which were discussed with Alasdair before he idea, and all of which had his blessing. These include –

– the 2nd International Alasdair Gray Conference (Glasgow, June 10-11 2021)

– Making Imagined Things: The Book

– The International Alasdair Gray Network

– Collaboration with StoryMag & the Scottish Book Trust on a special Gray issue for Scottish teenage writers and illustrators, under the banner ‘Imagining a Better Future’.

I have written a piece for The Paris Review sharing my thoughts on Alasdair’s death, his life, his work, and how I hope to approach the years ahead. Here is the beginning:

‘One night in summer 2015, under a vast night sky mural in the Òran Mór Arts Centre auditorium in Glasgow, there was a film showing. In fact, two. The subject of both, Alasdair Gray, once an intense, asthmatic working-class boy from northeast Glasgow and now Scotland’s most celebrated literary artist, was in the audience, fidgeting and scratching as he watched. Above us, I could see his Garden of Eden mural writ large on the ceiling, despite the low light. I was also scratching myself—seeing Alasdair do it always made my eczema worse. I was waiting for the right moment to ask him to sign a picture for my baby daughter. He was eighty, at the time. I was afraid I might not see him again; I was living in England. Now, in the weeks after his death, days after I’ve moved back to Glasgow again, I wonder how to make sense of his loss. Our conversation that night, conducted while watching the pop-up screen, made me re-engage with his work in a new way. And it gives me something to do now he’s gone.’

You can find the full article here: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2020/01/22/alasdair-gray-the-man-and-the-work/

At work on Hillhead Mural, circa 2012
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