Unveiling at Paisley Town Hall

A civic reception was hosted at Paisley Town Hall by the Provost of Paisley on 26 August to celebrate the Clan Paisley Society's 30th anniversary.

It was a delight to attend the marvellous reception with my family and have my portrait of the Clan Chief, Duncan Paisley of Westerlea, unveiled by the Lord-Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, Mr Guy Clark.

This is an intimate and informal portrait. I started to think about it while I was painting the Lady Westerlea. During one of the sittings with her, I observed her husband standing between the fireplace and a window, the warm and cool lights produced a captivating and charming effect so I sketched it and later painted it in watercolours.

However, I could not achieve the effect I was looking for in this medium. So later,  based on the watercolour sketch, I produced a small painting in oils, a medium that better allowed me to convey the warmth and friendship of my sitter as I saw him that evening.

Some photos of the magnificent event are below.

  Clan Paisley and guests at Paisley Town Hall

Clan Paisley and guests at Paisley Town Hall

  Unveiling by the Lord-Liutenant

Unveiling by the Lord-Liutenant

  The Much Hon. Duncan Paisley of Westerlea, Baron of Westerlea, Chief of the Name and Arms of Paisley

The Much Hon. Duncan Paisley of Westerlea, Baron of Westerlea, Chief of the Name and Arms of Paisley

Unveiling at the Trades Hall of Glasgow

On 18th March 2018 my portrait of Ruth Maltman TD DL was unveiled at the Trades Hall of Glasgow by the Lord Provost of Glasgow, Eva Bollander. Ruth Maltman is the first woman to be elected to the office of Deacon Convener since the incorporation of the Trades House in 1605.

The ceremony and speeches were full of sentiment and significance. In attendance were the Lord Provost - Eva Bollander, present Deacon Convener - Alastair Dorward, the Lord Dean of the Guild, the Lord Lyon King of Arms, and many Deacons and Visitors of the Trades House as well as guests.

May I take this opportunity to thank the Trades House of Glasgow for their trust and for the great honour I was given to record with my brush a significant moment in the history of Glasgow, a city I am connected to by the strongest family ties, a city which rests at the core of my heart.

I was touched by Ruth’s speech, as she conveyed her thoughts on the process of painting and my work. The essence of her speech is transcribed below.

“Can I start off by saying how very pleased and impressed I am with Max’s portrait… ‘pleased and impressed’ is maybe not how I expected to feel, when my colleagues first told me there was to be a portrait. But then I think anyone would have to have great self-confidence to immediately welcome a stranger rendering their face on such a scale!

But I could always see the point of this picture – Trades House needs to continue to record its own history and this picture really does mark that major change in the organisation that after some 400 years, women can fully participate…

In the beginning of this commission I was quite sorry for Max, our artist. We chose him because we thought he would be able to meet the brief – and it was a tough brief. His picture had to blend in with the other portraits we had, in both size and general style. It had to show the Deacon Convener’s chain, in all its complicated Victorian glory, and it had to include our historic Deacon Convener’s chair, both in some detail. And just to make his life complete, we also asked Max to include the Adam fireplace (in the saloon next door) and some flowers.

Max accepted our commission and approached it with great enthusiasm and professionalism. He measured... He told us how long it should take and why... He gave us a few options... and then the paints came out. I sat for him several times, and it was a window into a new world for me to see how fastidious Max is with his paints and brushes, and how he built up layer after layer of paint on the canvas to get the effect he wanted – or removed it because it didn’t entirely satisfy him. We chatted away and I learned a great deal from him about portraits, about oil paints, about varnishes and even about picture frames.

Now the completed picture is in front of me, I am delighted with it. Max did more than he promised; he captured everything we had asked for in terrific detail, and I am confident that Trades House members and visitors today and in the future will enjoy it. So thank you for your work Max; I greatly appreciate what you have given us, and I really enjoyed sitting for it”.    
 

 RUTH MALTMAN TD DL - MRS ALLAN LAPSLEY, DEACON CONVENER OF THE TRADES OF GLASGOW 2015-16

RUTH MALTMAN TD DL - MRS ALLAN LAPSLEY, DEACON CONVENER OF THE TRADES OF GLASGOW 2015-16

 The painting flanked by sitter and artist.

The painting flanked by sitter and artist.

The Trades of Glasgow

It was an honour to be selected last year to paint the Deacon Convener of The Trades House of Glasgow. A historic occasion indeed, as in 2016 Ruth Maltman TD became their first female Deacon Convener ever elected in the over 400 years of history of this organisation!

I am working on this large painting at the moment. The images below will give Members of the Trades House and other interested parties a glimpse of the process I am following for this project.

After thorough discussions with the Trades House and my subject, we were able to chose a composition that included key elements related to the office of the Deacon Convener: the chain and the Convener's imposing chair. We also included in the composition one of the beautiful marble fireplaces designed by architect Robert Adam in the late 18th century.

Before embarking on the final piece, I painted a small study in oils which gives us an idea of what the final work will look like. I carried out a series of measurements and tests in the Hall where the painting will hang. In portraiture there can never be enough planning..."measure twice, paint once".

We've already had three sittings and I will continue to work in order to complete the painting in the autumn, when I will publish more details. Next time I publish an update, the images will show a tremendous difference.

 This image shows what the painting looked like at the end of our first sitting. At the bottom right corner, the small oil study can be seen. I always keep this study nearby when I paint. It acts as memory aid. My subject, for example was not standing, but she sat on a platform while I worked on painting the face.

This image shows what the painting looked like at the end of our first sitting. At the bottom right corner, the small oil study can be seen. I always keep this study nearby when I paint. It acts as memory aid. My subject, for example was not standing, but she sat on a platform while I worked on painting the face.

 I work from the general to the particular. Blocking shapes and tones, almost carving the figure out of a mass of paint. Usually, I refrain from showing images of my work in progress, because it looks odd to the untrained eye, but I have made an exception here because I know that there are many people interested in seeing the process I am following for this particular piece. I am grateful to my subject, Ruth Maltman, for allowing me to show these images.

I work from the general to the particular. Blocking shapes and tones, almost carving the figure out of a mass of paint. Usually, I refrain from showing images of my work in progress, because it looks odd to the untrained eye, but I have made an exception here because I know that there are many people interested in seeing the process I am following for this particular piece. I am grateful to my subject, Ruth Maltman, for allowing me to show these images.

About the Trades House of Glasgow

Guilds and Craft Incorporations are the Scottish equivalent of the craft guilds or livery companies, which developed in most of the great cities of Europe in the middle Ages.  

The Trades House of Glasgow was created at the time of reform of Glasgow's local government in 1605.  At that time the electorate was basically divided into two groups, the Merchants and the Craftsmen.

The Craft Incorporations or Guilds comprised the Trades Rank of Burgesses who elected a Deacon Convener every year. The Deacon Convener led the organisation along with a council, which included the craft leaders. This is the body we now recognise as the Trades House.

Today the Trades House still meets in the outstanding Trades Hall in Glassford Street, one of the finest buildings in the country, designed by architect Robert Adam in 1794. Apart from the medieval cathedral, the Trades Hall is the only building in Glasgow still used for its original purpose.

Over the years many of the political and legal duties of the Trades House have been transferred to other bodies, but the charitable functions and concern for the future of Glasgow remain. The Trades House now is still concerned with giving assistance to the needy, encouraging of youth and supporting education, particularly the Schools and the Further Education Colleges in developing craft standards.

On 6th February 2005 the Trades House and the 14 Incorporated Trades celebrated their 400th year of service in Glasgow. Another historic moment occurred in 2016 when the first female Deacon Convener, Ruth Maltman TD, was appointed to lead the Trades House.

Here you can find a link to the Trades House’s official website.

And here is a link to their virtual museum where you can see their painting collection.

Another opportunity not to be missed this year at the Trades Hall is a free Exhibition of Heraldry, hosted by the Trades House, The Court of the Lord Lyon and the Heraldry Society of Scotland, from Sunday 1 October to Tuesday 3 October 2017.