At first I was not aware Calum MacKenzie was an artist.
I knew him as director of the Glasgow Print Studio, a cultural catalyst, a skilled publicist, and an organiser of cool social events. He was also good with food. He served an entire roast pig as the buffet at an exhibition by John Bellany. Bellany's first show for many years was the return of the prodigal son. "We couldn't fit a fatted calf into the kiln so we had a pig instead," Calum explained.
My personal artistic and culinary experience with MacKenzie involved not a whole pig, just one leg. This was when he was no longer director of the print studio. Unfettered by endless hours of management and double-entry book-keeping, he had returned to use the skills which made him a star student at art school in Dundee.
I often visited his atelier but mainly to discuss food. Calum was a talented and intuitive chef. We bought a ham from Costco, cooked it, and ate it but not before Calum did a watercolour of it for posterity. Never had there been such a ham. Nor such a lovely watercolour with details of Calum's rustic chopping boards and carving knife.
Another project took us into the world of afternoon tea. Calum had taken to collecting fancy tearoom cake stands. I was sent to artisan bakeries to buy Eiffel towers, pineapple tarts with yellow icing and fern cakes. Calum did the still life. I ate the cakes.
There might have been more food projects. But he had become absorbed in the business of digital printing and the possibilities it offered his fertile imagination and extensive knowledge of life and everything.
Calum died last September. His memorial show is on at the print studio in Trongate. It reveals a diversity of work on canvas, print, stained glass and even a floor. He left many of his works to be sold for a fund to help young artists and maybe a few old ones.
You will see from the photograph here by Leslie Black that he was quite the gentleman Scottish artist, dressed in Harris tweed (although the hat was from Africa). His collection of tweed apparel, purchased on eBay and from charity shops, should have been saved for the nation. Sadly, much of it had to be binned. Even the moths got a good feed at Calum's place.
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