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Exhibition shows Makar is also a 'Competent' artist

She is known for writing, poetry, publications and words – but the nation's Makar, Liz Lochhead, is to unveil her first art show for more than 40 years.

ON DISPLAY: Liz Lochhead with some of her latest artwork, which she is exhibiting alongside pieces she created while a student at Glasgow School of Art. Main picture: Kirsty Anderson
ON DISPLAY: Liz Lochhead with some of her latest artwork, which she is exhibiting alongside pieces she created while a student at Glasgow School of Art. Main picture: Kirsty Anderson

She will open Competent at Peever – an exhibition of drawings, paintings, pastels and collage work which also incorporates her poems – at the Scotland Street School Museum in Glasgow tomorrow.

Inspired by her schooldays, as well as a year's residency at the museum, Lochhead has not had her own visual art display since her graduation from Glasgow School of Art in 1970.

The exhibition at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed building includes work from her art school days – depicting her primary school education with text typed by her mother, Margaret Forrest – and images created by the poet in 1968.

The show also includes more recent collages by the poet, as well as poems by Lochhead, Jackie Kay, Carol Ann Duffy, Liz Berry, Adrian Mitchell and James McGonigal.

Lochhead has included material from the Glasgow Life museum – including school books, teaching materials and the leather tawse once used for punishing pupils.

The poet, who taught in schools from 1971 to 1979, yesterday said she was a "terrible teacher" in her day, but hoped the show would inspire others to write and paint.

She said: "It has been a very interesting process for me, producing this exhibition. I loved making the collages, putting them together on my kitchen table.

"I will do more, as I find making art very peaceful. I think memory itself is a collage and this exhibition is about memory.

"This is my first show since my graduation and I have not got any more planned. It has been great fun and I hope people can see it and feel they can have a go themselves. It's not a posh art exhibition."

The title of the exhibition is drawn from one of the writer's best known works, Poem for My Sister, with "peever" being the name for hopscotch when Lochhead was growing up. She was born in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, in 1947 and her family moved to a council house in the nearby mining village of Newarthill in 1952.

The village's primary school was the subject of Lochhead's poem A Protestant Girlhood.

She moved on to Dalziel High School, in Motherwell, and by the time she was 15 had decided to go to art school, although teachers were encouraging her to study English at university.

She said: "I still draw and paint all the time, I find it comforting. My sister had kept some of these works in a loft and it has been good to see them again."

Lochhead spent a year working at Scotland Street School after an application by the Glasgow Mackintosh Group to the Iconic Artists in Iconic Places programme – a project run by Museums Galleries Scotland and Creative Scotland. She worked with collaborative designers Pauline McCloy and Sha Nazir for the exhibition, and the installation also includes poems and images made by her friends and contemporaries. It runs until April 7.

A creative writing workshop with Lochhead is being held on Saturday and readings of poems will take place on April 7.

Councillor Archie Graham, chairman of Glasgow Life – which runs the city's museums and galleries – said: "Having Scotland's Makar undertake a year-long residency at Scotland Street School, to explore childhood and primary education, has been a great opportunity for the museum.

"The exhibition and installation is a fascinating reflection on schooldays and an opportunity to see Liz revisit some of her own works."

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