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Pete Howson Painting - 1979


Pete Howson Painting - 1979, originally uploaded by ccgd.

The sad and early death of Steven Campbell - at only 53 - and my recent trips back to the Glasgow School of Art have made me look at this painting on my study wall with nostalgia and some poignancy.

I remember Campbell's strong, almost brooding presence at the GSA, smoking French cigarettes and drinking as thick a coffee as the Vic could provide, always surrounded by his group of admirers. I never knew him, and he would have known me from Adam, but was fairly close to a couple of contempries in the new Glasgow Boys, Wisniewski and Howsen.

I knew Adrain Wisniewski fairly well, as he was a Architect student in the early years, and we hung around in the same crowd. I was active in student politics and "represented" him in an appeal to transfer from Architecutre to the Fine Art Department. It worked, and he got his transfer, and the rest is, as they say history.

The above - not very good - photo of a very early painting by another of the New Galsgow boys who is now a fairly famous UK contemporary artist, Peter Howson. His paintings grace a fair number of modern art galleries, and his later works are very collectable and fashionable (Madonna has several for example) This one may in fact be one the earliest of his paintings around.

I studied at Planning School within the Glasgow School of Art from 1977-81. From 1977-79 I lived at the John D Kelly Halls of Residence in Garnethill, and was friendly with a chap called Pete Howson, who lived in the room next door to mine at that time. In June 1979, when we broke up for the summer, Pete was clearing out a stack of his paintings, completed over the winter of 1978-79, putting them in a skip. I had admired one his paintings that had been kicking around his room for a few months - a powerful scene from his army days -which was a large painting in acrylics on chipboard. Since I liked it, Pete offered it to me, and I have had it in my possession ever since (Not wonderfully looked after in the early days I'm afraid, as it was moved from house to house, and flat to flat - in a Reliant Robin I seem to recall).

The painting now is now screwed to the wall of my study in Cromarty, Ross-shire, since Ruth and I moved back the Highlands in 1985. It has been "publicly" displayed in the past 25 years, in a local exhibition of art from Cromarty people's walls in about 1990. I have has no contact with Pete since I left the Art School in 1981, and I'd be very surprised if he even remembered who I was. However, I always admired his work, and followed his career with interest, but I suspect that neither he nor his agents are aware that such a painting from his student days exists.

Stevens death, and that of my brother Kai a couple of months ago, do however remind you of your one mortality, and what is left behind when you depart this existance. For some at least, great art is what they will always be remembered for.

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