John Kinross Scholar in 1996
John Gordon, Desert Shanty Swelling, Lima, Peru, etching on paper
How did the experience affect you as an individual?
As soon as I arrived in ‘Firenze’ in August 1996 I embarked on a month long immersion course in Italian, situated right beside ‘il Duomo’, so I could get by locally and around Tuscany. This gave me a fantastic opportunity to meet and communicate with students from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the USA and Japan. I had a memorable time sharing a flat overlooking Chiesa Santa Spirito with Scottish and Croatian friends. It was simply one of the best times of my life. The experience of living in Italy gave me confidence to expand my travel, later resulting in several painting trips to Madrid, Toledo and Avila in Castillian Spain – followed by exhibitions back in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
What was the impact on your practice?
While working in Tuscany I firstly gained the experience of drawing and painting in open air in a lovely warm climate with its enchanting rural and urban scenery, sometimes under the scrutiny of the critical eye of the Italian art lover. My work became more directly based on drawing from life for a period which was an important skill to build. In Florence, Siena, and Lucca, I greatly enjoyed seeing art on street corners, piazzas and gardens as well as the magnificent galleries and churches. I gained confidence as an artist to engage in focused projects, developing a religious theme to my work, inspired by the renaissance paintings and sculpture all around me.
What would you say the long term impact has been on yourself and you work?
From 1996 I worked from a shared artists studio at WASPS – Dalry, in Edinburgh. More recently I have enjoyed printmaking using Edinburgh Printmakers Workshop, learning various techniques, focussing on etching and photo-etching. Art practice and appreciation has always been a hugely important part of my life and self-esteem. I have shared this love through using art with people who have learning disabilities, mental health problems and children. My current employment in dementia care includes encouraging creativity and visual stimulation to enhance quality of life.