An American in Leith
By Douglas Gray

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Year
1993
Media
Printmaking
Subject Matter
People
Reg. Number
P503
Size
65.5 x 84 cm

This lithographic print is one of a series of twelve called "Oaharra Oaharra (The Sea The Sea)" based on the sea and set in the Edinburgh Dockland area of Leith. They were produced by the Edinburgh Printmakers Workshop. The strong colours and contrasting areas of light and dark created by the printing technique give the work a powerful presence and immediacy and there is a bold, almost ostentatious element to the two characters depicted. The colours and technique of the artwork are used to express personality to the viewer, while the figures in the painting stare directly outwards and lock eye contact, demanding our attention and consideration.

Douglas's imagery is infused with a keen awareness of social values and pretensions and many of his paintings focus on aspects of life often ignored in the arts; that is, the daily lives and struggles of working class men and women and the working class cultures and identities they have created around them. The Edinburgh Dockland area of Leith has in the past been seen as an area of deprivation, associated with industrial decline and depopulation, although positive changes since the late 1980s have seen the area rejuvenated and given a new lease of life. Douglas's artwork was completed in 1993 and so captures the early moments of these social improvements and there is a sense of optimism to the work which reflects this. The title itself is also a reference to the growing number of tourists venturing down to the banks of the Water of Leith.

Douglas Gray was born in 1947 and raised in Kinghorn, Fife, to which he has recently returned to live. He trained at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, where he was awarded a Post Diploma year in Painting. He then went on to study painting at the Royal College of Art in London, where he was awarded an M.A. In 1976 he returned to Scotland. He previously worked as a technician at Edinburgh Printmakers and has exhibited widely, in places as far afield as America and Japan. In 1990 he moved back to Kinghorn where he now has his own press. His imagery is infused with a keen awareness of social mores and pretensions, and currently focuses mainly on the towns, coasts, and seas around Fife.

With thanks to Amber Arts for artist information