Barry McGlashan, Life of The Artist (Studio of Michelangelo), oil on canvas, 122 x 239 cm

John Kinross Scholar in 1996


How did the experience affect you as an individual?
I’m not sure it was hugely affecting at the time but later was another story entirely. Thinking back (this was 1996), I was leaving that secure bubble of art school, trying to find a new place to live and also trying to find my way as a new painter in a world that didn’t seem to want new painters. To me, 3 months study in Florence was a welcome diversion from all that insecurity. My time there was a wonderful way to end 4 years study and an even better way to start a lifetime of continuing study. I have no doubt that the benefits of the months I spent in Italy have actually increased over time.


Barry McGlashan, Museo dei Duomo, RSA Collection

What was the impact on your practice?
Those longs days spent simply walking and looking made me very aware of environment and how that relates to subject. You can’t avoid it in Florence; its history is painted and carved all over it. As a young artist I was mainly interested in the look of the place, the landscape, the streets. And also, I suppose the life of it, the stories I found along the way. Returning home, this led me to continue to make work about travel over the following few years, but now more recently – to make paintings about the language of culture and the history of art. The continuing practice of painting so often speaks about itself, just as Florence does.


What would you say the long term impact has been on yourself and you work?
It has now been 24 years since my time in Florence and it’s influence has truly stayed with me. I often find myself returning there in my mind, it has become a memory landscape of half dreamt imagery – polished marble, descending light, crumbling frescoes. Somehow those memories continue to inform the language of my work today, making me think how things continue, don’t ever really change. Painting is essentially the same act it was in Leonardo’s day: a fact which gives me exhilaration and comfort in equal measure. The image I include here of recent work shows a triptych painting of the studio of Michelangelo. To make this painting last year, I used reference material directly collected whilst on my scholarship, now almost a quarter of a century ago. I hope to return someday.