I was born and brought up on the east coast of Scotland, and this has had a major influence on my work. My world at that time had three main lines of influence: the spine of the Sidlaw Hills and the Angus Glens to the north; the city of Dundee, with its port and industries; and the River Tay, from its Highland stretches around Dunkeld and Kenmore to the wide river firth between Angus and Fife.
Like many other artists, writers and musicians, the foundations for the colours and themes I have used in my work were put in place by the environment and experiences of my childhood. I lived in a landscape rich with folklore and traditions, where the footprints and legacy of the previous people who had passed over the land were not only a memory, but a part of everyday life.
As a child, I spent a great deal of time looking into the display cases of the local museums. Many Saturdays and school holidays were occupied in the dimly lit rooms full of local treasures. Pictish stones and objects found in the fields near my home fired my imagination. Relics of the cities whaling industry including beautiful scrimshaw work and personal possessions gave an insight into the lives of people who had shaped the city I grew up in. I believe the occupation of museums, collecting artifacts and how they were displayed, has had a direct bearing on how I have chosen to create my work. The museum cases have left their mark!
The wide river firth of the Tay had a major part to play in my upbringing. Not only did it provide a workplace at the docks for my father, but it was another great source of ideas and images. Strangely enough, many lot of these stem from the futility of fishing with homemade drop lines from the pier at Broughty Ferry as a young boy. Hours spent dangling a line into the water hoping that something would bite. Most of the time the hooks were baited with nothing more than homemade milk bottle cap lures, sparkling in the water below the pier. What I didn't know was that what I was 'catching' was a love of the coastline. The stories of the old fishermen, the history of the river in the Castle Museum, and the colour and mood of the changing river that would be a main part of my artistic vision.
I now travel and exhibit widely around Scotland and the UK, and carry with me the same curiosity and sense of place that I developed growing up on the banks of the Tay. The coast still plays an important role in my work along with the countryside. New folklore and traditional tales, similar to the ones I heard as a boy, still inspire me and evoke images and ideas for my art. That wee boy peering into the museum case still lives inside me and is still drawn to finding new treasures in the landscape and imaginations of Scotland.
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Selected one man shows
1991 Perth Theatre Gallery
1991 Ancrum Gallery, Jedburgh
1992 Netherbow Arts Centre, Edinburgh
1994 East Kilbride Arts Centre
1994 David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre (Artist in residence)
1994 Clydesdale Arts Festival (Artist in residence 1994/7)
1996 Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther
1999 Ether Gallery, Southsea
2000 Timespan Gallery, Helmsdale
2000 Maltings Gallery, Farnham
2001 An Lanntair, Isle of Lewis
2002 Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow
2002 An Tuireann, Isle of Skye
2002 McLean Museum, Greenock
2003 An Tobar, Isle of Mull
2006 Bonhoga Gallery, Shetland
2006 August Gallery, Brenchley, Kent
2007 Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther
2010 Bedales Gallery, Hampshire
2010 Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh
2010 Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham, Hampshire
2013 John Muir's Birthplace, Dunbar
2013 West Ox Arts, Bampton, Oxford
July 2004: Artist in Residence, An Tobar, Isle of Mull; producing seven sketchbooks based on his experiences of the island and its history.
Touring exhibition during 1993/4 on the theme of the River Tay, featured two artists Angus McEwan and Douglas Robertson, and two poets, Valerie Gillies and Harvey Holton.
The River Spirits show travelled to Inverness Museum and Art Gallery; Gracefield Art Centre, Dumfries; McLean Museum, Greenock; Netherbow Arts Centre, Edinburgh; Barrack Street Museum, Dundee; and the Balbardie Gallery, Bathgate.
Collaboration projects with Donald S. Murray, including Shorelines, a collection of poems and drawings of real and imagined shorebirds. Limited edition artist’s book and mainstream publication will be published 2016/17
Collaboration project, with poet Isobel Dixon, creating a series of poems and assemblages based on a response to D.H. Lawrence’s ‘Birds, Beasts and Flowers’, which will be exhibited and published 2016-17.
Interview with Isobel Dixon and Douglas Robertson, on the Birds, Beasts and Flowers project featured in Earthlines 11, March 2015.
Collaboration project with poet Gordon Meade, creating a series of poems and drawings for ENDangeRED, part of his forthcoming book 'The Year of the Crab', to be published by Cultured Llama Press in 2017.
'The Guga Stone - Lies, Legends and Lunacies from St Kilda', by Donald S Murray, illustrated by Douglas Robertson, published by Luath Press, Edinburgh, hardback 2013, and in paperback, 2014.
Named in The Guardian's Best Nature Books 2013
Readings, talks and launches for The Guga Stone include National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh; Waterstone's Inverness and Glasgow; Brasenose College, Oxford University; One Tree Books, Petersfield; West Meon Book Festival, Hampshire.
'SY StorY' by Donald S Murray, illustrated by Douglas Robertson, published by Birlinn, Edinburgh, February 2015.
SY Story launched at the Woodlands Centre and An Lanntair, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, February 2015.
'Herring Tales' by Donald S Murray, illustrations by Douglas Robertson, published by Bloomsbury Press, London, September 2015
Named in The Guardian’s Best Nature Books 2015
Readings, talks and launches for Herring Tales include Skye Book Festival, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh; Waterstone's Inverness; One Tree Books, Petersfield; Edinburgh International Book Festival; Scottish Writers Centre, Glasgow.
Collaboration project with poet Gordon Meade, 'Les Animots - A Human Bestiary', published by Cultured Llama Press in September 2015.
Poems and images featured in Stravaig 4, the online magazine of the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics 2015
'Bear' featured in Zoomorphic Magazine 2015
Work in public collections
Inverclyde District Council, East Kilbride District Council, Scottish Fisheries Museum, Clydesdale District Council, Biggar Museums Trust, Calderglen Country Park, Borders Television, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Poetry Library, Timespan Heritage Centre, Shetland Arts Trust, Dundee University, Glasgow Museums, Ness Historical Society.
Catalogues, Publications, and other media
The Dictionary of Artists in Britain Since 1945 - David Buckman (Ed.) - Art Dictionaries Ltd.
Cover image for Entanglements, for Two Ravens Press 2012
Cover image for 'In The Distance' by David Cooke, for Night Publishing 2011
Cover images for ‘Small Expectations’ by Donald S. Murray, for Two Ravens Press 2010
Cover image for Söylesi Üç Aylik Siir Dergisi, Turkey. (International poetry journal) September 2009.
Cover illustration for ‘Praising The Guga’ by Donald S. Murray 2008
EarthLines magazine, illustrations featured in issues May and August 2012
Pushing Out The Boat – Anthology, Aberdeen May 2012
Six illustrations for Turkish translation of poems by Kenneth White 2012
Douglas Robertson - Timespan Heritage Centre, 2000
Lines Review 118 - Macdonald Publishers, Edinburgh 1991
Lines Review 124 - Macdonald Publishers, Edinburgh 1993
Mistaken Identities: New Scottish poetry and short stories - B&W, Edinburgh, 1995
Edinburgh Review - Polygon, Edinburgh, 1995
Radio and Television
'River Spirits' - Documentary series made for the BBC World Service, and broadcast worldwide, 1994
'Usual Suspects' - Arts Review broadcast by BBC Radio Scotland, 1994. Featured an interview with Douglas Robertson
'Poem Boats' - TV magazine feature about Douglas Robertson and Kevin MacNeill, and broadcast on BBC Scotland’s 'Eorpa', the Gaelic arts programme on Burn's Night 2001
Interview with Donald S. Murray and Douglas Robertson at Wordplay, the annual Shetland Book Festival - www.writerstories.tv