drawings, watercolours and constructed reliefs from a lifetime ofmaking – bold, vigorous abstracts, limpid pencil studies and vivid, descriptive watercolours – that here was the proper thing, a professionally trained artist with a highly particular vision. Training originally as a railway engineer, he changed direction radically at the end ofthe war and enrolled in King’s College Newcastle, on an art school course that included such celebrated teachers as Victor Pasmore, Lawrence Gowing and Roger de Grey. The necessities of married life and a young family were to make teaching his only serious financial option however and Robson’s professional life consisted in 35 years of secondary school teaching in the Newcastle area. But Robson was already a committed practitioner with a subject matter he knew and loved – rocks and rock climbing; this was always to shape his art profoundly. Initially his work took the form ofa series oflucid studies ofrock faces, pared down to essentials by his analytical climber/painter’s eye, but it soon morphed into bold, jagged abstract oils and from there, on occasion, to pure geometrical abstract reliefs and drawings. While always modest in scale, the vision is both clear and inward. Nicholas Usherwood ‘A New Era: Scottish Modern Art 1900-1950’ is a major new exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Named after the Edinburgh group New Era, established in 1939 to promote the experimental work of its members, the show now sets out to illustrate how Scottish artists responded to the various movements in international Modernism – from Fauvism to Abstraction – with around 100 paintings, sculptures and works on paper from over 50 artists. These include the nomadic Scottish modernists such as J D Fergusson, William Johnstone, Alan Davie, William Gear and Eduardo Paolozzi – along with the stay-at-homes like William Gillies and the Edinburgh School. The exhibition also includes less well known figures – Cecile Walton and Eric Robertson, Stanley Cursiter and William Crozier who briefly flirted with Futurism and Cubism, and William McCance who explored the mechanisation of modern life a generation before Paolozzi. Scottish art of the 40s includes the Cubic Expressionism of the London exiles Colquhoun and MacBryde along with Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s abstracted landscapes and Margaret Mellis’ decorative Constructivism. It is however in the area of Surrealism that truly neglected figures in Scottish Modernism have been uncovered – with the mystic Benjamin Crème and the self-taught Edwin G Lucas. The sheer variety of works is reflective of how much Scottish artists creatively engaged with one of the most turbulent and innovative periods in human history. Alongside the exhibition is the display ‘Magazines and Manifestos: British Periodicals from 1890 to 1950’ exploring the proliferation of ‘little magazines’ which became a preferred format for many literary and artistic groups, whose proponents were keen to spread the word of their new and often radical ideas to a wider public. Bill Hare In an age when young artists often consider it some kind of failure never to have exhibited by the age of 30, for Derek Robson to be showing for the first time at the age of 90 might be pushing the limits. Indeed everything about his story is remarkable, a nice parable of tenacity and quiet persistence for the New Year, in which a 90 year old former art teacher from Tyneside leaves his remote Northumberland home to come and live near his son in Bungay Suffolk, art works and all, and suddenly finds himself being offered a show in the town’s art centre, the Fisher Theatre , his first in eight decades of work. Though he himself expressed surprise and astonishment that anyone should really want to exhibit him now, the only remarkable thing about it is that it had never happened before. For it was obvious on looking through the accumulated paintings, CODA from left E dward Baird ‘Unidentified Aircraft (over Montrose)’ © Graham Stephen, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Derek Robson ‘Untitled’ The Fisher Theatre N ew heights Creative time JANUARY 2018 GALLERIES 43