Posts for Tag : The Girnin Dug

Two Dogs, a Cat, Two Magpies and a Dandelion Clock – On Illustrating Lanark’s Closes

When I was asked to illustrate the history of Lanark’s Closes I was provided with some factual info about their past. I love history so found it interesting but also dry, as these things often are. I needed to find a way to give the information some life through illustrations that hopefully both children and adults would enjoy.

I began by looking at Lanark’s heraldic shield. Lanark is a Royal Burgh. On its 600 year old heraldry I noticed two dogs. Here was the start of an idea.

Lanark had been royal hunting grounds in Medieval times so this is why, I presume, the dogs are on the shield. I decided the dogs would appear in each cartoon providing a bit of fun and mischief but also linking into the long past of Lanark. Six hundred year old dogs were going to be given a new lease of life and turned into cartoon characters.

Now I had dogs I wanted a cat for cat lovers. Around the corner from the high street is the statue of ‘The Girnin’ Dug.’ The local story of neighbourhood feuds involves a cat chase, so here was my cat.

One idea was leading to another but now I had a cat I wanted two birds. I chose two magpies to symbolise ‘two for joy’ as I wanted the panels to be positive for the town. Lastly, I added a dandelion clock.

Much of my artwork over the past few years has been inspired by the saying ‘If Wishes Were Horses’, which was first recorded by James Carmichael in his book of Scottish proverbs in 1628. The Carmichael lands lie just outside Lanark by Tinto Hill, from where the Clydesdale Horse originates too.

So the dandelion clock acts a kind of signature of my artwork plus referencing more local history, as well as a positive symbol of hope, wishes coming true and transformation.

The dandelion clock too as a reminder of the huge importance of wildflowers as pollinators for bees. I sincerely hope that people will stop seeing dandelions as weeds but as the miraculous plants they are!

Now I had a cast of characters to use in each panel to link the Close illustrations together and attempt to bring to life the hustle and bustle of a busy market town over the centuries.

The historical facts could now wrap around these repeating elements. I really hope locals and visitors to Lanark enjoy the set of 12 drawings. Here is the first pre – drawing I made to bring the dogs to life.

I think we need to name Lanark’s two dogs!?

www.kirstenharrisart.com

The original artwork is going on exhibition and is also for sale, including this first pre project drawing of the heraldic shield …

The Girnin Dug

Camp, The Girnin Dug

Lanark is home to a nearly 200 year old statue of a  dog called Camp, known locally as The Girnin Dug. 

Camp, a large black and white dog, was the beloved companion of Deacon John McDonald, deacon of the dyers trade.

As a sign of wealth, merchants would aspire to a town house in the Medieval Castlegate, at the foot of the high street. Building his town house, Deacon McDonald found his neighbour, Miss Mary Inglis of Vere House, objecting to both his new house and his loyal but boisterous dog, Camp.

One day in hot pursuit of a cat, Camp knocked over Miss Inglis in the street.  Shortly after Camp was found poisoned. Miss Inglis was the prime suspect. 

Deacon McDonald used art as revenge. Saying nothing to Miss Inglis he instead commissioned a snarling, grimacing, gurning stone statue of his faithful friend, which he erected on the gable end of his new house, staring directly into Miss Inglis’s morning room, her favourite place to sit and watch the world go by. 

Local legend says Miss Inglis eventually blocked up the window. The Girnin Dug still girns at 15 Castlegate.  Vere House is demolished.