|Where was he brought
Michael hails from Dundee, one of five children.
Dundee is one of the four major cities of Scotland. It was
first granted city status 800 years ago. Dundee has a long
history of invention and innovation including the first telephone
service in the world (outside London); the first street lights;
the postage stamp; the submarine telephone cable; and, the
hole-in-the-wall cash dispenser. Dundee is known as 'The City
of Discovery' from Scott of the Antartic's ship "Discovery"
which was built in Dundee and now forms the centrepiece of
a heritage centre on the city's waterfront. Additionally,
industrial museums, recall Dundee's past as a centre for whaling,
shipbuilding and jute manufacture. Through Dundee runs the
River Tay which flows for nearly a hundred miles from the
Highlands to the North Sea through magnificent scenery ranging
from mountains and lochs in the west, to miles of coastline
in the east with rich agricultural land in between.
Why do so many of his paintings feature fantastic creatures?
One of his earliest jobs was volunteering in the Zoo and spent
his summer holidays and weekends getting close to the wildlife,
particularly the Giraffe's, a personal favourite.
Why do so many of his paintings feature the sea?
Michael links his fascination with the sea to the fact that
Scotland is essentially an island. Almost wherever you are
on Scotland's east coast you can see, hear or smell the sea.
What inspired him first to paint?
Michael was asked by a neighbour to paint a peacock that she
had. Michael spent the '70s painting and repainting this peacock
on a second hand canvas, stretched on wood reclaimed from
a child's cot. Michael's mother recently found the finished
painting, under her bed, around twenty years after it was
started. She gave it to the neighbour, principally because
she couldn't afford to have it framed. The delighted neighbour
did have it framed and died a few days later.
Michael was a continual visitor to the Dundee Art Centre and
was intrigued by the Christ on the Cross painting and particularly
enjoyed watching other visitors who sought comfort in touching
and soothing Christ's wounds on the painting.
How long did you continue to paint in Dundee?
Michael completed a Diploma in Drawing and Painting at Dundee
College of Art. During this time he consistently applied to
WASPS Studios and finally secured a leased studio after graduation.
The building formed part of St. Mary's Church and the soundtrack
to Michael's early career was the rector performing Roll Out
the Barrel when the congregation had gone home. One of the
enduring memories of this early studio was the cold. With
tall arched windows and wooden floors, Michael often had to
paint with his coat on.
Earlier commissions in Dundee included some murals work, some
of which can still be seen in the Dundee Centre of Contemporary
Arts and Bowling Club.
Why did you come to Edinburgh?
Michael's sister once took him on a trip to the National Gallery
in Edinburgh. Michael was spellbound by the collection, particularly
Rembrandt, and decided to move to Edinburgh to paint and be
closer to the gallery.
Michael is still a regular visitor to the gallery and enjoys
choosing an appropriate classical music accompaniment to each