Philip Colbert, artist

WHAT to make of Philip Colbert? A Perthshire boy, the son of a property developer, he's now an artist and fashion designer who has collaborated with Rita Ora, Disney and Comme Des Garcons and currently has a show at the Saatchi Gallery in London.

His work is full of Smiley faces and art history references and fried eggs. Oh, and crustaceans (GQ's editor Dylan Jones calls him the "lobster guy").

Colbert, meanwhile, says he's a neo-pop-surrealist and he's even been described as "the godson of Andy Warhol". Others might call him a joker whose paintings are art gags at best. It's possible that he is all of the above, of course.

What is interesting is the fact that his art – which is comic and primary-coloured and riffs on the very 1960s utopian belief in consumerism feels of the moment (the "neo" matters) and a kind of rejection of now – has never been more popular.

But that might be just because Colbert's vision of the world is frantic and busy, but doesn't feel doomed. When everything else does, maybe that comes as a relief.

Philip Colbert: Hunt Paintings continues at the Saatchi Gallery in London until January 13

Jamie Robson, actor

PLAYING an amnesiac, stepping into the shoes of Scotland's national bard and a rumoured role as a villain in the forthcoming Star Wars trilogy are among the many guises we can expect from Jamie Robson in the very near future.

The Dumfries-born actor is set to play the lead in a biopic of Robert Burns, a project in development with director Charlotte Wells (the pair previously worked together on the acclaimed short Blue Christmas).

There have been copious attempts to bring the story of Burns to life in movie form over the years – from a big-budget version starring Gerard Butler to an ambitious script with Johnny Depp in the frame for the eponymous role – but they never quite came to fruition.

Robson, 33, believes that the film he is collaborating on with Wells will be the antithesis of any "twee, rom-com, tartan, shortbread tin, touristy" notions about the 18th-century poet.

"We want to make something far truer to the genius of Burns," he says. "I have been working with some of the best Burns experts in the world and the things I have learned that very few people know is unbelievable. He is an even more interesting character when you know this stuff."

Edinburgh-based Robson has been linked to the Rian Johnson-directed as-yet-untitled Star Wars trilogy, although he is keeping tight-lipped on that.

He certainly doesn't do half measures. Robson, who starred in the Bafta Scotland-winning short My Loneliness is Killing Me, is fast carving a reputation for pushing himself to the limits physically and mentally as he strives to bring an extra dimension to the characters he plays.

This has seen him variously add an inch to his collar size, place stones in his shoes, go into self-imposed isolation during filming and use duct tape to "modify" his silhouette.

Robson deliberately suffered sleep deprivation for a role in the forthcoming film Spin State in which he plays a private detective plagued by mysterious blackouts.

"The character is an amnesiac, so he has problems remembering his past and lots of psychological turmoil," he says. "The script, written by the director Ross A Wilson, was a very personal one and cathartic for him. It was symbolic of things from his own personal life.

"I felt a great responsibility and pressure in playing that role because I wanted to convey something visceral and real. I didn't want to act or pretend. I wanted to suffer in the way the character was suffering because I think it was reflective of his [Wilson's] own suffering at one point in his life.

"I did things like deprive myself of sleep, staying in costume and not eating very much as an attempt to stress my body so that, even when there was no dialogue or action, if the camera was on me, then you could see that there was a visceral pain there.

"It was an incredible piece to do. I feel lucky to have a project like that coming out this year."

Spin State is due for release this spring. Visit

Kirstie Swain, screenwriter and playwright

Charly Clive, actor

KEEP an eye out for new six-part Channel 4 comedy drama Pure, due to air in the coming weeks. The debut original series by Scots screenwriter and playwright Kirstie Swain is based on Rose Cartwright's acclaimed memoir of the same name.

The plot centres on Marnie, played by newcomer Charly Clive, who has an undiagnosed form of obsessive compulsive disorder that takes the form of intrusive thoughts, often sexual, and unseen mental rituals that deeply affect her daily life.

Matters come to a head as her parents celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Marnie packs a bag, hotfoots it from the Scottish Borders and jumps on a coach to London where she finds an eclectic group of kindred spirits.

The cast includes Peaky Blinders' Joe Cole, Kiran Sonia Sawar, known for Black Mirror and Murdered by My Father, as well as Two Doors Down stars Arabella Weir and Doon Mackichan.

Clive, who hails from a small village near Oxford, has by all accounts nailed the requisite accent (which makes her an honorary Scot, right?).

"I was really lucky that the choice was made for Marnie to be Scottish," she says. "I was able to work with Penny Dyer, a completely brilliant voice coach, who helped me fully realise Marnie's accent.

"Kirstie Swain, who wrote the series, is Scottish and so much of her humour and intonation is in the script, so it was really important to me that she was happy with how my accent sounded. I wanted to do full justice to the character she'd written and who I loved playing.

"I was nervous about how it would be received until Kirstie told me that my Scottish accent had her mum's seal of approval. I'm very proud of that."

Swain, from Ayton, near Eyemouth, is a graduate of the BBC Writers Academy and her previous credits include an episode of Jess Brittain's Clique for BBC Three.

She is developing several TV drama projects, including Ladybaby for Channel 4 and Gutted with Synchronicity Films, the Glasgow production company behind recent hit BBC series The Cry.

The latter will be a female-centric relationship thriller set in an east coast fishing town.

Pure begins on Channel 4 soon

Carly Girasoli, footballer

A FIRST-TEAM starter for Glasgow City FC at the age of 16, Carly Girasoli is tipped for big things. She handled the pressure of playing in the Uefa Women's Champions League last season with aplomb and has won two caps for Scotland at under-16 level.

Encouraged by her father and brother, Girasoli played football with boys from an early age at Harmony Row – the club where Sir Alex Ferguson kicked off his career. She also did a stint at Celtic's girls' academy before joining Glasgow City in 2017.

The central defender, who is a fifth-year pupil at Lourdes Secondary School in Glasgow, has dazzled her teammates. Scotland midfielder Hayley Lauder described the teenager as "amazing".

Araminta Campbell, textile designer

"THE luxury is in the detail," suggests Araminta Campbell, a Scottish textile designer who specialises in home interiors, bespoke tartan and tweed design as well as handwoven British alpaca fashion accessories.

Campbell, originally from Aberdeenshire where she grew up on the family estate, established her company in 2014 and over the last five years has built it up to a point where she is working for clients worldwide while collaborating with the Scottish weaving industry.

Her Signature label hand-weaves one-off designs in the company's Edinburgh studio, while her Minta label provides cushions and throws, woven in the Borders.

Last year she won a Scottish Edge funding award and created a bespoke tweed for Hauser & Wirth's latest hotel The Fife Arms. The firm liked that so much it commissioned her to design a tartan and a range of retail products too.


Clare Hunter, artist

"SEWING is a way to mark our existence on cloth: patterning our place in the world, voicing our identity, sharing something of ourselves with others and leaving the indelible evidence of our presence in stitches held fast by our touch ..."

Clare Hunter, banner maker, textile artist, textile curator and the founder of community enterprise NeedleWorks in Glasgow, has written a book about needlework and its place in history.

It takes in Mary, Queen of Scots, the mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina, the Aids crisis and stretches back as far as the Palaeolithic period. In short, it's a lovingly crafted take on the importance of craft in the world.

Threads of Life by Clare Hunter is published by Sceptre on February 7

Niall Walker, model

HEIGHT 6ft 2in. Chest 33 inches. Waist 26 inches. Hair red. Eyes green. Prospects? Ah, well, who can say? But the signs are positive.

Niall Walker, currently on the books at Model Team, is still in his teens but he's going places. Geographically at the very least. He is not long back from New York where he was shooting editorials for Hero and V Magazine and now that it's January he is heading off to Paris.

Last September he was on the catwalk for Hedi Slimane's first show as creative director of Celine in September. Proof that gingers rule the world.

Fiona Erskine, author

MEET Dr Jaqueline Silver. She blows things up to keep people safe. The intrepid scientist, international jet-setter and explosives expert is at the heart of a debut thriller from real-life chemical engineer Fiona Erskine.

The Edinburgh-born author has written The Chemical Detective, which opens with Silver working on avalanche control in Slovenia when she discovers an irregularity in a consignment of explosives.

After filing a complaint with the multinational chemical company that supplied them, Silver finds herself threatened, narrowly escapes death and is framed for murder.

Escaping from police custody, she sets out to discover the truth, racing between the snow-covered slopes of Slovenia and the haunting ruins of Chernobyl.

The Chemical Detective is set to be the first in a series. Here Erskine, 57, talks about the inspiration behind the opening novel.

You began writing after a skiing accident. What happened?

I was in Meribel in France and it was my first ever attempt at skiing. I only managed one day before I had the accident.

I wasn't the best skier in the world, fell over, my ski boot didn't disengage and my knee just went. My ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] snapped. It was surprisingly painful.

They had to send someone on a sledge to ski me down. That was exciting because they gave me a shot of morphine and the guy who skied me down was one of the most handsome men I have ever seen. Once the painkillers started to wear off, I realised it wasn't such a great end to the day.

I was on holiday with my husband and our two sons. Because I had to get a special flight back, they had a bit of extra holiday time while we waited. I would sit in the bar while they were off skiing.

How did the idea for your book come about?

I took strong painkillers and gazed out at the slopes through the panoramic windows of a hotel bar. My daytime companions were Russian men who started drinking at breakfast.

French painkillers and Russian baddies was a pretty brilliant combination. That is how I had the idea for Dr Jaqueline Silver. She just came all by herself. I think it was partly just to have an alter ego who could ski. She is brilliant at skiing.

Each of the books I have written – and there are four – is focused on an industrial accident. There's Bhopal in India, Chernobyl in Ukraine, Banqiao Dam in China and an oil accident in Brazil.

That is my starting point because I have always been really interested in industrial safety elements. I guess that is almost the motivation: I want to explain it to people and bring it to life.

The Chemical Detective is set between Slovenia and Ukraine. Why did you choose those locations?

I had been to Slovenia with my family because we do a lot of outdoor swimming. We went in the summer, but I thought what a great place to set the skiing in.

Logistically, because I needed to have lots of lorry movements through eastern Europe for the plot, France was just too far away. Where the book opens in Kranjskabel is a mix of Kranjska Gora in Slovenia and Meribel in France.

I recently went to Chernobyl for the first time. I had done a lot of research, so I knew enough to write about it, but it was valuable to see it properly. I did a one-day tour. It is more beautiful than you might expect.

What was interesting was looking at how horrible the planned Soviet technology cities were. They were so lacking in imagination. The first people to arrive lived in Apartment Block 1, their children went to School 1 and they could use Shop 1 and Cafe 1.

The first time I went to Kiev was in 1977 on a school trip. I remember how very rigid everything was and lacking in curves and softness. Planned is good but it was very brutal.

It was very interesting to see how, as nature has taken over at Chernobyl, how much softer and nuanced and beautiful it is when you visit. I was surprised by how lovely it was.

Was there a danger element visiting Chernobyl?

Not really. I had done my research thoroughly and hired a Geiger counter which I took everywhere with me. It would get slightly higher in places but walking down a street of granite in Aberdeen you would probably get something similar.

Inside the actual sarcophagus, obviously there is extreme radiation there. There is a lot of buried stuff so if you went poking around with a spade you could probably be in danger.

Sum up Dr Jaqueline Silver in a few words?

Athletic. Feisty. Voracious sexual appetite. Clever. Loner.

The Chemical Detective by Fiona Erskine is published by Point Blank on April 4, priced £14.99

David Galletly, illustrator

DAVID Galletly has come home. After eight years in Glasgow, the illustrator and graphic designer has returned to his home city of Stirling, where he has built his new studio in the Made in Stirling creative hub in King Street.

It's a good time to take stock and take in the range of Galletly's work in recent years. As well as creating original art, he has worked for clients as diverse as Innis & Gunn, Pringle 1815, Wired and The Hollywood Reporter.

"I also head art direction at Lost Map Records," he points out. To mark his return to Stirling he's staging an exhibition there this month. It opens on January 24. 

Expect a show "full of detailed patterns, strange characters and dark humour – I've made this collection of work to say hello to the city".