New artwork celebrates Gaelic culture

Sandy Moffat with his new painting.
Sandy Moffat with his new painting.

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A painting celebrating Gaelic culture in Glasgow has been unveiled. The distinguished painter Alexander ‘Sandy’ Moffat – who was artist-in-residence to the Royal National Mòd 2019 – has created an impressive artwork inspired by Gaelic culture at the festival and the vibrant health of Gaelic-medium education in the city.

The painting was commissioned by Glasgow Life in partnership with The Hunterian and the University of Glasgow, to celebrate the Mòd’s return to Clydeside for the first time since 1990.

As artist-in-residence during the festival, Moffat immersed himself in the atmosphere and events, and spent time researching the city’s Gaelic past and present. He then spent several weeks working on a huge, 6ft x 5ft canvas, which includes references to Gaelic history and culture, both in Glasgow and across Scotland. The finished work was unveiled at the City Halls as part of Celtic Connections.

Moffat said: ‘There were two starting points. The first was a dish towel I bought at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall during the Mòd. The design was based on a medieval map dating from when Glasgow was primarily Gaelic-speaking, showing the Gaelic place names for all the districts of the city.

‘The second influence was Gaelic education. After the Mòd finished, I visited the Glasgow Gaelic School in Berkeley Street, and was really impressed by the whole atmosphere of the school.’

The new painting also makes reference to William McTaggart’s famous painting, The Sailing Of The Emigrant Ship, which reflected on the draining away of the Highlands and Hebrides population during the Highland Clearances.

The Royal National Mòd had last been held in Glasgow in 1990, during its year as European City of Culture. Three decades on, Gaelic is flourishing. In fact, Glasgow is home to the largest number of Gaelic speakers outwith the Highlands and Islands and a growing number of citizens are speaking it, learning it and participating in Gaelic cultural events. Last summer, the revival was accentuated with Niall O’Gallagher’s appointment as the first ever Bàrd Baile Ghlaschu (Glasgow’s City Gaelic Poet Laureate).