ONE of Scotland's leading culture figures Richard Demarco has been admitted to hospital for the first time in 50 years after suffering a stroke which threatens to stymie his talent for painting.

The 87-year-old, who has spent a lifetime enriching Edinburgh's cultural offering, had been cataloguing his huge archive of art and artifacts from the Edinburgh Festivals at the Summerhall Art Centre when he fell ill 11 days ago.

Mr Demarco told how he has lost feeling in his right hand side which will impact on his watercolour painting.

"I experienced being in a hospital for the first time since 1963, when I was involved in an accident on the day my gallery was opened," he said.

"The stroke has affected by right hand, which, sadly, is the hand I use to draw and paint. I cannot paint at the moment."

But the dogged art impresario is already back to work and spoke to The Herald as he travelled to an arts event in Dublin.

He spoke of his fear that he future of his colossal collection of art – which he claims contains more than 4000 pieces – has not been secured.

Mr Demarco would like a national institution, such as the National Galleries of Scotland or the Tate in London, to acquire his archive which includes relics from the Edinburgh Festival and his work with artists such as the seminal German conceptual artist Joseph Beuys, the Polish artist Tadeusz Kantor and German artist Gerhard Richter.

He said: "I really need to have something happen with my archive soon, because how long will it be before I die? I want to see the archive used in a way that I want it to be seen.

"The problem I have is that it is not a normal archive, it is what the Germans call a 'gesamtkunstwerk', a total work of art and it needs curation and study."

"I am more focussed on the fact that when you are 87, you cannot give yourself a five year plan," said Mr Demarco who admitted his collection would sell at auction for "quite a lot of money".

Mr Demarco, who received the European Citizen's Medal in a ceremony held at the European Parliament in 2013, said he was crestfallen that Dundee is now unable to bid for the European Capital of Culture title, after a decision to exclude the UK from the scheme by the European Commission, following the Brexit vote.

He said: "I was heartbroken to find out about that Dundee, and the other cities like Leeds, cannot be Capitals of Culture.

"That overwhelms me, because the work of my whole life has been about how art is a universal language and crosses all frontiers.

"And Scotland has made a huge contribution to Europe, and is part of Europe."

Richard Demarco, was born and raised in Edinburgh, and has witnessed every festival season since its inception in 1947.

He studied at the city’s art college and counts Sir Sean Connery as a lifelong friend. He opened his first gallery in 1967 and has credited with co-founding the pioneering Traverse Theatre.

He said: "I note that I am the oldest person now mentioned in the newspaper on my birthday, there is the young artist David Hockney, who is 80, and I wish I was that young again, it was a different ballgame then.

He added: "I wish I was 77 again, but cruelly I am 87 and it makes a major difference to what you can do physically and mentally.

but wants the collection