A display of paintings by John Martin DA, entitled Reivers: Steal to Live and Steel to Die, is set to provide a fitting complement to The Banner Blue exhibition, both of which are being staged at the museum, writes Jake Coltman.
On show in the Scott Gallery until May 25 and organised by Elizabeth Hume, Scottish Borders Council’s visual arts officer, the reivers exhibition is inspired by the turbulent history of the Borders and is a welcome addition to the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Hornshole theme.
John Martin graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1961 and was awarded the Newberry Medal. He moved from Glasgow to the Borders in 1972 where he established a popular gallery and studio in Melrose, and now resides in St Boswells. Very well known for his landscape paintings, his more recent work has been been strongly influenced by the Border reivers.
John told the Hawick News: “Although the story of the reivers is one of treachery, reprisals and deceit, they were also very true to their families and friends. Today the history of the Borders is all around us and is kept alive with the old reiver family names, the continuing celebrations of the annual ride-outs and long may it last.”
There are powerful, atmospheric images of reivers full of movement, very well portrayed in their armour, with weapons and on horses, and their faces showing the fighting spirit associated with them.
Their exploits are played out in great detail in many of the larger works, those that catch the attention include Wha’ daur meddle wi’ me? (the well known Elliot clan motto), a column setting out from Hermitage Castle; Bringing home the spoils to what could be Goldielands Tower; and Hot Trod, an exceptional study of reivers galloping home after a raid, the bright moonlight sky excellently portrayed.
The paintings, 50 in all, have been executed in acrylic and are for sale with prices ranging from £350-£950.