Event Report - Duncan Shanks Sketchbooks

Friends Assistant Eleanor Capaldi reports on the Duncan Shanks Sketchbooks event in May 2015.

On Monday 11 May, Friends gathered in the Hunterian Art Gallery for a specialist talk from the curator of the Duncan Shanks Sketchbooks exhibition, Anne Dulau Beveridge.

Anne has worked closely with the artist, overseeing the transition of over 100 of his sketchbooks (his entire collection) to The Hunterian.

Guests were first taken to the exhibition space, where Anne established the landscapes and locations which inspired a number of the sketches on show. These predominantly centre on the Clyde Valley, where Shanks and his wife live. To further complement what was on display, photos and catalogues pertaining to the works were handed out amongst those attending.

Such is the commitment to share not only his work, but working practices, Anne was also able to share objects which Shanks had gathered from the local landscape and kept in his studio. These included shells, and even a small animal skull.

A brief interlude for tea and biscuits followed, during which one of our recently joined members, Mrs Connie Willett, shared an original brochure listing a Shanks painting she and her husband (former Hunterian Director, Professor Frank Willett) purchased some years ago.

The final portion of the day saw the group descend the Art Gallery steps to the Print Room. Taking the tour officially ‘behind the scenes’, this provided the chance for unparalleled proximity to the art works, as a selection of sketchbooks were distributed amongst guests to look through for themselves.

What struck most was the volume and the scope of the sketches on display. Comprising the entire collection, this translated to work from his earliest days as a student, such as sketched portraits, before he discovered The Poetry of Place.

The ideas of place and poetry were united when a poem which has inspired Shanks, At middle-field gate in February by Thomas Hardy, was circulated round the table, and read aloud by Friend, Joyce Anderson. The insight offered and depth of understanding of his work granted, marked a high point in the Friends event calendar.

First published: 25 May 2015

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