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Canvas 1 – Night Classes

The scheme of the first painting illustrates the main theme of the project: that the nine lives of Robert Burns were closely circumscribed, restricted and confined. His immediate environment was severely curtailed throughout his childhood and growing up in rural…

Canvas 2 – Harvest Days

Nine Lives of Burns Harvest Days

This is one of the rare occasions we have to see young Burns in the open air, out under the sun among his own and already standing out, if only for the whiteness of his shirt. He always knew that…

Canvas 3 – Morning Music

Morning Music Nine Lives of Burns

The self-education of Robert Burns continued with his decision to teach himself the fiddle. That he did so well-enough was proved by his later ability to notate and transcribe old Scottish melodies to re-work them as songs by adding new…

Canvas 4 – The Bachelors’ Club

4.The Bachelors’ Club Nine Lives of Burns

This was a real Scottish debate in that everyone was talking at once and nobody was agreeing with anyone. The 21-year old Burns, resplendent in his saffron plaid and fashionable tied-back hair, tries to keep some kind of order before…

Canvas 5 – Burns and Freemasonry

Burns and Freemasonry

This canvas is deliberately set horizontally rather than vertically like the others because it represents the pivotal change in Burns at this point. Freemasonry allowed Burns to by-pass the sense of incompatibility he had with his neighbours and sublimate the…

Canvas 6 – Talk of the Town

6.Talk of the Town

If every door in Edinburgh opened to Burns in 1788, the one that led to below stairs was at most only kept ajar, but the fame of the supposedly ex-ploughboy had spread to kitchens all over the capital and the…

Canvas 7 – Tam o’ Shanter

Canvas 7 – Tam o’ Shanter

Burns’s figure is proportionately slightly bigger here than it might be in life, but it’s intended to indicate how much larger-than-life he was at this time. With the writing of ‘Tam o’ Shanter’, he must be seen at the very…

Canvas 8 – ‘As You Like It’

Canvas 8 – ‘As You Like It’

For the purposes of clarity, some artistic licence has been taken with the actual architectural layout of the theatre. A false proscenium arch has been added to contain the rowdy action going on between the stage’s edge at the foot…

Canvas 9 – End Days

Canvas 9 – End Days

That it should come to this:alone in a rented room away from wife and family, seated in a chair drawn up beside an empty fireplace where the candle is unlit, the books unread, and, at his feet, his notebook lies…