Artist draws emotion from stone creation at Falkirk exhibition

A renowned artist hopes people will emotionally engage with the poignant stories behind the brick creation and freezer installation in his new exhibition.

Lanark-born John Shankie has brought his Refractory and Refrigeration works to Falkirk’s Park Gallery as part of ‘Generation’, a celebration of 25 years of contemporary art in Scotland.

Artist John Shankie

Artist John Shankie

The free exhibition, which runs at the Callendar House gallery until October 25, has been over a decade in the making. A former engineer, John is also a lecturer at Glasgow School of Art and is known for using everyday objects to tell tales from the past and from his own personal life.

He said: “The freezer, for instance, was a way of preserving memories through storing the clothing of my children.”

John has a personal connection to the First World War – his grandfather was an ambulance driver who was awarded the Military Medal.

“As I grew older I became fascinated by this. I went to Ypres myself to try and imagine what my grandfather must have experienced as a teenager.”

Back in 1995 John was playing on a beach in Helensburgh with his children when he discovered a half-brick in the sand with the name Cleghorn on it – the area he was raised.

“I took the brick home and it lay around until 2005 when I started doing a little research. I found out there was a brickworks near where I grew up which had played a large part in the formation of Glasgow.

“I started to incorporate this information into my work.”

Never one to explicitly tell people what his art means, John nevertheless packs his creations with “clues”.

He said: “I hope people who view this exhibition see what art makes possible and how we can tell stories through it.”

John will be holding a talk at the gallery from 11 a.m. to noon on Wednesday and follow this with a workshop in Callendar House’s education room from 10.30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, September 13. He will also be giving an illustrated lecture in the venue’s Green Room from 11 a.m. to noon on Friday, October 10, on the themes of memorial, 
reflection and restoration.