Scotland Can Make It

To Jim Lambie’s Poetry Club in Glasgow’s West End last night to contribute to an event hosted by the design and curation outfit Panel, directed by the talented Catriona Duffy and Lucy McEachan. In tandem with the Commonwealth Games, Panel had commissioned a number of Scotland-based artists and designers to produce a limited run of six souvenirs for the Games, in a collection called Scotland Can Make It. These were launched at an exhibition at the People’s Palace in Glasgow in the Autumn of 2012 and I was honoured to be invited to write a short introduction on the nature of the souvenir for the catalogue.

It was good to come back almost two years later to see the project at its finale. The evening was organised to discuss the beautiful Home/Away football scarf designed by Emlyn Firth and Angharad McLaren with Johnstons of Elgin. I delivered a lecture on the historical and cultural relationships between sport and fashion. Mairi MacKenzie of Glasgow School of Art gave a great presentation on the overlooked debt to the style of David Bowie owed by Liverpool football casuals in the late 1970s and early 80s; and Emlyn and Angharad talked about the inspiration behind their subtle and very collectible product. There was a full audience of students, Games volunteers, the stunning fashion designer Pam Hogg, and leading London-based fashion curator, Amy de la Haye (who is talking about Jaeger in the same series this evening).

Panel do crucial work in supporting an understanding of design in Scotland. I sometimes feel that though the visual and performing arts are rightly lauded in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee and celebrated internationally for their vibrancy, design is an under-appreciated facet of Scotland’s creative ecology. The new galleries in preparation at the National Museum of Scotland and V&A Dundee will provide a much-needed extended platform for their promotion and interpretation and I look forward to collaborating with Panel and others in the future, to ensure that the culture of design continues to thrive.

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