James Munro




1970s : Sculpture rediscovered

Young GordonThe space and his recently acquired welding skills at Jewel and Esk College opened a floodgate of energy and disciplined determination. Some of the earliest welded pieces

celebrated the juxtapostion of the found object and brought human form together with industrial machine elements and off cut.

The influences quickly infused ancient fertility, totemic icons and contemporary symbols interpreted by the technical processes he adopted.

The early pieces: assemblies of iron to form John the Baptist, Guitar and Simian Fist give an insight of what was to follow.

Let the music play:

He continued his passion for playing live music and had a residency, as a keyboard and vibraphone player, in bands throughout the 1960’s, 70’s and 1980’s and it was in this environment, two or three evenings a week he gathered ideas and translated one form of creativity to inspire another. Jazz Lab. was his experimental group and the evening work was mainly in a dance band. Both profound as creative triggers in the development of his visual art. Shadows cast on stage merging image of performer with musical instrument, sketches created in the band-room and the cabaret characters provided a rich menu of sources which he immortalised in two and three dimensions.

Exploring Outdoors:

The landscape painting also continued and provided another launch pad for translating and simplifying geographic form into bright coloured symbol paintings then into bronze sculpture groups. One example being the ‘Waterheads Series’ which started in 1971 with an outdoor painting near Peebles. He continued to revisit this composition with striking painting is elementary colour, in the late 1970’s and then realised as a bronze tableau in 1982.

However the piece entitled Chrome Connection was possibly his first engagement with a genre of work which was ‘deconstructive’ in it’s simplicity and offered the crafting quality and finish which he continually sought within his work. And the ‘work ethic’ was of huge importance. Almost taking it to mythical proportions when polishing 50mm thick stainless steel!

Sculptors such as David Smith, Brancusi and the constructivists all fed into his vision of the gradual metamorphosis of Sculpture, Fertility and Music.

His employment at Moray House Teacher Training College changed his circle of creative contacts and both his sons, Kenneth and Gordon, developing as artists gave renewed vigour to sharing his skills and often working in collaboration. His membership of the Society of Scottish Artists and his success in winning awards at the Royal Scottish Academy and Royal Glasgow Institute reinforced his prominent role within the Scottish Art scene.

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