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4th January 2024
Kelvingrove Museum hosts Erskine Veterans Charity art exhibition highlighting realities of life post service
Erskine Veterans Charity has partnered with Kelvingrove Museum to showcase the artistic talents of its residents and beneficiaries. The exhibition, titled Clyde Connections, brings together original artwork made by forces veterans that attend the Erskine Reid Macewen Activities Centre (ERMAC).
Clyde Connections captures the transformation of the River Clyde – mirroring the evolution of the river and the veterans as they adapt to new environments in their post-service lives.
The exhibition also encapsulates the past and present significance of the Clyde to the veterans. Once a bustling hub of trade, shipbuilding, and steelworks, the River Clyde has transformed into the backdrop for the peaceful Veterans Village, where many of the Veterans reside in Bishopton, Renfrewshire.
The show features work by 16 ERMAC veterans, many of whom have lived through traumas predating their military service and those experienced during conflicts.
ERMAC aims to enhance the quality of life and wellbeing of veterans in the community, providing the opportunity to engage with people who have shared experiences and history, learn new skills, explore a number of interests and access support services.
The artwork on display features stoneware, watercolours, oil, pencil, mosaic, stencil, and an audio-visual installation.
Jim McGoran, an Army Cadet Force veteran and one of the artists involved in the project, says ERMAC has been a lifeline for him during personal tragedy and his own health issues.
Jim, 77 and from Paisley, has been a member of ERMAC for the past 18 months. He had been caring for his wife Jean, who was living with Alzheimer’s before she passed away in 2021. However, during this time, Jim was also fighting his own battle with oesophageal cancer and a skull carcinoma.
He said: “Jean retired from being a teacher at 60 and I noticed a gradual change in her behaviour. It was the start of a very traumatic time for us all as a family, and that combined with my own illness really started to take its toll.
“After losing my wife and beating cancer, I was at a bit of loss with what to do with myself, and that’s when my friend stepped in. Her husband had been admitted to The Erskine Home to live as he was too unwell to be cared for at home.
“She knew all about ERMAC and encouraged me to come along to see what I thought. I loved it straightaway and now attend five days a week, fitting in sessions around my bowls and garden. I enjoy the banter and I was always keen to share my creative side, which I have been able to do in the pottery classes and the Clyde Connections exhibition.
“The classes at ERMAC give me focus and an objective in my life. It is something to do every day, a place to go to make friends and find camaraderie among people who have been through similar tough times.
“You can see just by the artwork on display that there is real talent among the veterans at Erskine. I never thought that I would have the chance to have my artwork on display in a location like this. It has given me a new lease of life and a passion to explore further.”
Jim’s work includes a model of the iconic River Clyde Finnieston Crane and the cargo ship, Rangitane which was well known for loading locomotives and tanks to ships.
Mac McDade Art Tutor at ERMAC, said: “ERMAC is very proud to have been chosen to provide a themed exhibit in the Kelvingrove Gallery and Museum Community Space. Given Erskine’s connection to Glasgow via the River Clyde, and the Clyde being the home of the Royal Navy, shipbuilding and trade in the West of Scotland, in which many of our veterans have been a part of, it seemed fitting that this be the chosen theme.
“Our veterans rose to the challenge and produced a wonderful diverse range of artwork including drawings, paintings, clay work, sculptures, mosaic and collage. A true testament to the hidden talents that many only discovered they had after coming to ERMAC.”
Wing Commander Ian Cumming MBE, Erskine Veterans Charity Chief Executive, said: "As we launch this remarkable art exhibition created by our talented ERMAC members, I am filled with immense pride in the incredible individuals who make up our Erskine community. Their creativity knows no bounds, and through this captivating display they showcase the depth and breadth of their talents.
“I extend my thanks to every ERMAC Veteran, staff member and volunteer who has contributed to this exceptional collection. I hope this exhibition serves as a reminder of the profound impact we can create when we foster an environment that values and encourages the diverse talents within our Veteran community."
The display will run to May 1st, 2024.
The Veterans involved are: Benny McNaughton (60), George Mackie Jnr (63), Kevin Jones, Bobby Bates (75), George Mooreland (75), Alex Watson (87), George Collins (72) Jim McGoran (77), Kathryn Lamb (61), Sam Gillespie (75), Hugh McGowan, Bryan Warren (85), George Mackie Snr (86), and Alan McLaughlin (65).
To find out more about Erskine Veterans Charity’s work please visit our website at www.erskine.org.uk, follow on twitter @ErskineCharity via Facebook www.facebook.com/ErskineVeteransCharity or listen to Erskine Veterans Radio at Erskine.org.uk/radio. To donate directly to Erskine, please visit Erskine.org.uk/donate.
Erskine Veterans Charity is the trading name of Erskine Hospital | Company No. SC174103 | Registered Charity SC00