Patience on Jan
Lachlan Goudie, an artist, writer and TV host, is a man on a mission. The mission? To shake up Scottish art history while painting a vivid and profoundly personal image of how the country has been influenced by 5,000 years of creativity.
“We’ve all become a bit snooty about art,”We’ve all become a bit snooty about art. “Curators often build a wall around art, but artists have traditionally played a hands-on role in society. Only recently have artists become cerebral beings. The idea of craft has always been important, and that’s what I’ve tried to convey.”
Enthusiasm is Goudie’s default position. Anyone who saw him at shows like the Big Painting Challenge of the BBC and Live Drawing Live! They’ll attest to that. He has also presented many art documentaries that spawned this book, including The Story of Scottish Art. It is central to his work to express his love of art – both as a practitioner and as a communicator.
The Story of Scottish Art grew out of a Goudie-hosted four-part TV series of the same name for the BBC. In 2016, the series premiered. He says, “It took me four years to write it. In the time in between, I did television shows, made work for exhibitions, and oversaw my father’s estate and exhibitions. Two children were also born during that time. So I was pretty busy!”
His presentation style is expansive and enthusiastic, as is his descriptiveness on the website. He is also full of verve in his painting style, with an imaginative use of color and a confident line. He spent seven years recording the construction of many ships at the shipyard of BAE Systems in Govan, including HMS Duncan, the last ship usually launched on the Clyde slipways. For this collection, he made more than 70 sketches, paintings, prints and sculptures, and his abilities as a draughtsman still shine through. In comparison to intricate representations of the interiors of ships under construction, delicate portraits of shipyard workers.
The son of Alexander (Sandy) Goudie, a popular Scottish painter, and his French wife, Marie-Renee, Lachlan Goudie grew up surrounded by art. He was born in 1976 into a household where, as he writes in the novel, “drawing, painting and sculpting were the lifeblood of daily existence.” He was painted on a huge canvas titled Portrait of the Artist and His Family within weeks of his birth, the youngest of three brothers. Lachlan is a squirming baby breastfeeding his seated mother’s arms in the painting, while his bored-looking brother, dressed like a teenage musician, and his girlfriend, carrying a floppy doll in her hand, are standing behind him. His father is wearing white bell-bottom pants and a black tunic, with long, flowing blond curls; a commanding figure in the scene; he looks at the audience.
Goudie writes, “From a young age, I also wanted to be a painter and quickly became my father’s student. He showed me how to create paintings, but he also taught me respect for the craft, tradition, and history of our shared creative bloodline.”
Goudie senior, a virtuoso figurative painter, a plumber’s son from Paisley who enrolled as a 16-year-old at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA), pursued his instincts and bucked the prevailing winds of fashion in art circles. He later mixed a burgeoning career with teaching at the GSA as a painter.
Lachlan Goudie heads the Alexander Goudie Trust, founded in 2004 following the death of his father. Father painted vivid landscapes, still lives, and portraits, as he writes in the novel. He was unapologetic about his painterliness and his appreciation of French art of the 19th century. My father associated with the Glasgow Boys and the Colourists, and he took his inspiration from the narrative paintings of David Wilkie when he painted a large cycle of canvases to illustrate Robert Burns’ poem Tam o ‘Shanter.
Lachlan laughs, “Every Saturday morning, dad used to make me do portrait sessions, and now in those portraits I see my daughter and son. I used to find that torturous and infinitely boring! Now I’m the tyrant who’s the tyrant!”