If the definition of a true artist is one who doesn't - or can't - give up on making art then Dawson Murray fits into this category.
This small show of his work at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA), Eye Can Draw, adds weight to the theory.
Murray studied at Glasgow School of Art in the early 1960s and was head of art at Bearsden's Boclair Academy. His reputation as a watercolour artist and printmaker is widely acknowledged on the Scottish gallery scene. Thousands of people file past his 48-feet-high painting from 1999 of the earth's strata in Glasgow's Buchanan Galleries every day. In front of it is a rock weighing 400kg suspended on a stainless-steel beam made by his good friend, the late George Wyllie.
Loading article content
Murray, who lives in Fife with artist wife Liz, has suffered from multiple sclerosis for many decades. Now quadriplegic, he has continued to make etchings with the assistance of his wife, an assistant and the staff of the Print Studio at DCA.
As he would admit himself, these images have always been something of a compromise but recently, Murray has been working with technology developed by Robert Jackson, print studio coordinator at DCA. Jackson's home-made eye-tracking device was initially developed as a drawing tool for print artists with disabilities.
Murray had to overcome several hurdles in using the device, not least of all his inability to hold his head "rock steady". "We managed to solve this problem," he explains, "by clamping my head into a very non-high-tech method consisting of two blocks of wood!"
His drawings using the eye-tracking device - a tiny camera mounted on a spectacle frame - have now been printed in his own highly developed wet-into-wet sugar-lift technique, which recreates the volatile, often unpredictable reaction between paper, pigment and water that Murray so enjoyed as a watercolourist.
The end-product - prints with sublime depth of colour - were not achieved without much trial and error, but they are beautiful all the same.
Elsewhere at DCA, in the main exhibition space, Continue Without Losing Consciousness is part of the country-wide GENERATION series of exhibitions highlighting the best of the last 25 years of contemporary art in Scotland. It highlights the work of three artists: Rob Churm, Raydale Dower and Tony Swain.
Churm creates drawings, collages and prints while Dower makes sound and sculptural works, and Swain paints on to printed newspaper pages to create dreamlike science fiction-inspired landscapes. All three have worked with contemporary art and music in Scotland since the 1990s.
Dower combines sound and sculpture to great effect. His work Untitled (Reoccurrence) 2014, an assemblage of found frames, steel, seemed - to me, at any rate - an interesting take on painting and the lack thereof in contemporary art. A strange blooping noise around and about a large weather balloon turned out to be an audio work by Dower called Single Drop 2013-2014, a 2mins 22secs audio recording of a single drop of water slowed down at 75% speed.
This process was repeated in sequence 16 times until the final recording was significantly slower than the actual event. It's strangely mesmerising, although it has the effect of making me wonder if there was a malfunction in the gallery sound-system. It also meant I didn't wholly concentrate on the work of the two other artists, which seemed oddly sterile in comparison.
The Eye Can Draw Project and Continue Without Losing Consciousness are at Dundee Contemporary Arts (www.dca.org.uk, 01382 909900) until August 15 and August 24 respectively.