I Am The Gadgie Man
By Jon Corbett on January 31, 2011 in Art & Design
To depict the soul of the North East working man is no easy task. I can’t imagine they’d let you do this too easily. We’re made of sterner stuff up here and we’re not up for all that poncy stuff. Especially if you were once a fresh-faced window cleaner from the wilds of Kilmarnock.
Yet despite this, and even though he’s from a far, Alexander Millar’s love and burning passion for his adopted region has inspired the young, old and indifferent for the best part of twenty years.
And now, for the first time, Millar’s Lowry tinged potrayals of working life in the North East and a by-gone era will be on full view as part of a major exhibition bound for the Great North Museum in Newcastle.
“Since the exhibition was commissioned by the Great North Museum I’ve been able to really delve deep into the ‘working man’ concept, exploring new subject matter and trying out new things artistically,” said Millar.
“I’m excited to see all of that come together in one room, one exhibition. I’m particularly keen to see the reaction of the exhibition curators, the museum team, collectors and visitors.”
Thanks to the handy work of both artist and trusty publisher Washington Green, 100 original works from the man behind the infamous ‘Gadgie’ will be on show for six whole weeks kick-starting in March.
“If you think you’re not the ‘arty’ type, or that you have to ‘understand art’ to go to an exhibition; then I’d urge you to come to the Working Man.” - Alexander Millar
And never one to shirk the inspirations and meanings behind his most famous works, Millar nuts and general curios alike will also get the chance to meet and chat with the Gadgie himself, as part of a string of late night events penned at Great North.
Millar said: “We’re working hard to make sure the exhibition is as multi-layered as possible. I want genuine depth, for people to connect with the pieces and feel as involved viewing them as I was when painting them.
“To understand the subject matter and feel an affinity with the ‘working man’; his hopes, his dreams, his gripes and his moans. To be excited by that humanity.
“I’ll be talking about my work and perhaps painting live on some special evenings at the museum. If you think you’re not the ‘arty’ type, or that you have to ‘understand art’ to go to an exhibition; then I’d urge you to come to the Working Man.”
In one way or another, we can all relate to the ‘gadgie’ character, the hard working type, a family man, a bit of a lad, likes a drink, the happy go lucky type of fella.
And the paintings that will be on show at the Great North Museum are a celebration of all that is great about the region and the people that built it. It’s about the everyday, the non-glamorised version of real life, honestly depicted.
Someone once said to Millar that you don’t need a change of scene to feel refreshed or inspired, you simply need to view your surroundings with fresh eyes. And the likeable and articulate artist from East Ayrshire hopes his new display allows people to see the ‘Gadgie’ and his friends through new and invigorated eyes.
Speaking ahead of the launch, he added: “The ‘working man’ still exists all around us, granted he’s probably not a miner.
“But here, in the North East, and around the world, there are men and women who embody the spirit and the values of the ‘gadgie’ character.
“Hard working, good honest traditions and family values, a sense of humour followed by a cheeky pint. There’s a comforting simplicity there, which I think we could all learn from today.”
So dust off those easles kids, and be inspired.
Working Man will be running at The Great North Museum from March 26- 8 May, more details here.