El Hacedor


El Hacedor  mixed media on wood 140 x 100cm

El Hacedor (The Maker), is a collection of poems and short stories by Jorge Luis Borges. The original Spanish title refers to the Scots word makar. The collection reflects on the limitations of creativity. For example in A Yellow Rose the poet Giambattista Marino experiences a mystical revelation on his deathbed.
“Then the revelation occurred. Marino saw the rose, as Adam had seen it in Paradise, and he realised that it lay within its own eternity, not within his words, and that we might speak about the rose, allude to it, but never truly express it, and that the tall, haughty volumes that made a golden dimness in the corner of his room were not (as his vanity had dreamed them) a mirror of the world, but just another thing added to the world’s contents.
Marino achieved that epiphany on the eve of his death, and Homer and Dante may have achieved it as well”.
Robert Brendel founded the R. Brendel company in Breslau in 1866 producing botanical models. These models are enlargements of plants and flowers made of papier mâché, wood, plaster and gelatin. It is possible to dismantle and reassemble the pieces. A didactic revelation, these objects were originally designed to explain the complex structures of nature. Over time they have lost their pedagogical function but can now be viewed from a different perspective and appreciated for their sculptural delicacy and surreal beauty, as objects from a world that is infinitely stranger than we ever dreamed.

Left: Calluna vulgaris (L.) Scottish heather
Right: Euphorbia cyparissias (L.) Cypress spurge


Isobel Gowdie




Isobel Gowdie

Ian Howard: Isobel Gowdie Portrait (after Pisanello), Isobel Gowdie mixed media on wood panels 30×20 cm

Isobel Gowdie was a 17th century Scottish woman who was accused and tried for witchcraft in 1662 in Auldearn. Her story is significant because she gave an elaborate confession filled with elements of fantasy and magic.
More importantly, it is said that she confessed without torture, and she gave her testimony on four occasions. With no torture she volunteered stories about shape-shifting into animals, particularly a hare, and meetings with the Devil.
Isobel was a young woman at the time of her trial. Some articles say that she was well educated and “married below her class.” While others state that Isobel may have been mentally disabled or disturbed. Emma Wilby, author of a recent book on Gowdie, speculates that Isobel may have been a storyteller or village bard.
One theory suggests that some of these accused witches were participating in shamanic visionary practices that were holdovers from the pre-Christian era.
These women and men might have been participating in spirit journeys to the otherworlds through the use of trance or hallucination inducing substances (herbs or mushrooms). This may account for many of the fabulous things mentioned in Isobel’s testimony.

IG 2

Banniere 2019

Banner for l’Art et la Banniere 2019, Lot, Occitanie. Isobel Gowdie avec un lievre (d’apres Pisanello).  Mixed media on canvas 200x105cm


Heretical Diagrams

Heretical Diagrams

A suite of 20 prints by Ian Howard


Alchemia [screenprint] – Uccello [screenprint with bronzing, monoprint and collaged lithograph] – Lux [screenprint with varnish]
[All are 107×76 cm]

In the suite of prints entitled Heretical Diagrams, Ian Howard explores the theme of ideas in opposition: orthodoxy and heresy, magic and reason, order and disorder. The ‘opposition’ is found in both the imagery and the form of the prints. On the one hand the compositions are frontal, symmetrical, diagrammatic and describe clear unequivocal designs which reflect the structure of the altar-piece, the icon and the banner. On the other hand these simple designs often act as ‘containers’ for a complexity of small scale imagery, at times existing within other more tangible containers: glass domes, alchemical vessels, receptacles and recessed areas. These recall not only the shrine, the reliquary, the instruments of experimentation, but also house other self-contained worlds which are in opposition to the larger image.


Fisica [screenprint with lithograph] – Bruno II [etching with lithograph] – Ritratto [etching with lithograph and rubber stamps]
[All are 107×76 cm]

The imagery contains a set of metaphysical symbols and references to the Hermetic, particularly to the work of Giordano Bruno, but also to Fludd and Dee. There are also a number of archetypal symbols: the cross, the chalice and the urn, as well as various quotations from early Renaissance and 20th century art. Exact knowledge of these appropriations is not essential for the viewer as they are intended to form a patina of signs and symbols, some recognised, some half recognised, others not. This layering of meaning is mirrored by the physical layering of the printed separations, the final image revealing traces of those below.

The Heretical Diagrams series is published by Peacock Printmakers, Aberdeen  with support from Duncan of Jordanstone School of Fine Art Research, and the Scottish Arts Council. There are 20 prints in the series, each 107cm x 76cm, in an edition of 10. The series uses the full variety of print media frequently mixed on the same sheet. The images are often sampled from other works, by the artist and by others, to be re-stated through the production process.

The series has been exhibited in the USA at the John David Mooney Foundation,Chicago and at venues in the UK.

There is an accompanying publication of 80 pages and 20 colour plates with essays by Alan Woods, which places the print series in the context of the artist’s other work; Jane Lee, whose comprehensive text unravels the iconography and charts the sources of the imagery in the wider history of ideas; and Arthur Watson, who describes the technical aspects of the work.

Collection: The Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow ( purchased with the assistance of the Scottish Arts Council).