The Cold Hard Facts Of Life

This piece is on show as part of the Artists At Work 2 exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery until February 12th 2023. I had originally intended to show one of the works from the Three Views of A Border exhibition but I couldn’t get the dates to work. Three Views was still touring in Ireland when the work had to be delivered so I wavered, vacillated, huffed and puffed and decided to show this, which is the most complex of a series of related pieces that pull together memory fragments of the 1970s in a playful way.

It has a number of familiar elements. The lead and bitumen are there, as are George and Pat and the rusty drawing pins but there are ideas there that are still emerging and which I’ll develop in future. The gallery gets quite a high number of family visitors and the lower panel is hung at a child’s eye level which I really like, hopefully the magpie nature of the collage will be appealing to young visitors. That’s an approach I want to develop in future. In keeping with a lot of recent work the title ‘The Cold Hard Facts Of Life’ comes from a countrypolitan song, Porter Wagoner’s finest moment in this case, although the phrase ‘Pressure Cookers! Pressure Cookers!’ appears in typescript on the upper panel and I was almost swayed to use that as a title. One visitor has already likened the piece to ‘an explosion in a junk shop’. If that isn’t a title waiting for a piece I don’t know what is.

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