Home is where the art is for former neuroscientist Brian

Brian and Lesley Robertson at home in Hawick.
Brian and Lesley Robertson at home in Hawick.
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A former neuroscientist is opening up part of his modernistic Hawick home to the public this Easter as he now looks to get to the art of the matter.

Until a few years ago, Brian Robertson, 56, was one of the world’s leading professors of neuroscience with a multi-million-pound research budget at Leeds University.

Brian and Lesley Robertson.

Brian and Lesley Robertson.

But, with the support of his wife Lesley, he gave it all up to take a master’s degree at Edinburgh College of Art.

The couple had a holiday home in Hawick for many years and, because they loved the town so much, they commissioned town joinery firm Fraser and Renwick, of Mansfield Crescent, to build them a new home in Stirches Road.

The property, Little Lindisfarne, received a commendation in last year’s Scottish Borders Council design awards.

The house also contains a pop-up exhibition space, called the Zembla Gallery, which is opened to the public a few times a year.

It is currently housing a display of the work of Scottish sculptor Doug Cocker.

Altruistic Mr Robertson, who donated his kidney to a stranger four years ago, said: “We’d always loved Hawick, so we decided to stay and build a home that was custom-built for our needs.

“When I was working as a neuroscientist, I never had much time to do much else, but my love of art started when I met a couple of artists in a pub in Glasgow several years ago.

“I started working with them on a public engagement with science project, and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to give up a perfectly well-paid job and study art.

“When the house was built, we had a spare room, which we decided to convert into a gallery on a very informal basis.

“We have a lot of friends who are artists, and the exhibitions are staged a few times a year on a very informal basis.

“So far, we have had exhibitions by mainly Scottish artists, and they are the kind of displays you don’t see outside of major cities.

“We have built up quite a following, with people travelling from Glasgow, Perth, Edinburgh and Newcastle to see the displays.

“It’s mainly abstract art, and we do invite local primary schools to come along to see the displays. It’s a chance to use their imagination and to do some work themselves, such as collages.

“For this new exhibition at Zembla, we focus on some of Doug’s smaller sculptural pieces, including collage works and drawings.”

Appointments to view the works at the gallery are by appointment only. To make one, call 07843 625232 or email brianrobertson7011@gmail.com

To find out more about Zembla, log on to its Instagram page, @zemblagallery