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.