A Dream and an Argument

Dougal McKenzie (Producer)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

1 Citation (Scopus)


This exhibition represents a major new body of work bringing together key elements of my research interests, primarily involving history and storytelling through images. The key investigation of this exhibition explores the possibilities of representing ‘memory’ in painting. The title of the exhibition is taken from a chapter in Allan Massie’s ‘The Ragged Lion’: a partly fictional, partly factual account of the Scottish historical novelist, playwright and poet, Sir Walter Scott’s life. As in the book, the paintings in the exhibition are a weaving together of fact and fiction, melding objective history with subjective narrative. Instigated by a visit to my birthplace of Edinburgh during the summer of 2016, a number of events prompted me to address a directly autobiographical history; some of it personal, some of it more lightly connected. Walking around the city, re-reading Walter Scott’s ‘The Heart of Mid-Lothian’ (1818), reflecting on the Porteous Riots that took place on the city’s High Street in 1736, and visiting St. Margaret’s Loch in Holyrood Park with my father, who recalled the location as having once been a boating pond. My father also recounted his part in the ‘Rectorial Battle’ of 1959, mock student ‘riots’ which took place at Edinburgh University’s Old Quad. I connected this memory and location to the James Mason film ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ (1959), which had happened to use the Old Quad as a setting in the final scenes of the movie. These narratives and reflections coalesced and consolidated very firmly as subjects for the body of paintings. The exhibition’s title ‘A Dream and an Argument’ not only refers to the chapter in Allan Massie’s book, but for me also aptly describes a personal understanding of painting, and the way in which memory seems to act as we reflect on things.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2017

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