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Previous GSA Alumnus and staff member Duncan Shanks currently has an exhibition of his sketchbooks on display at The Hunterian Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow. Celebrating Shank’s generous gift of his entire output of sketchbooks from the past 55 years to the University of Glasgow, this exhibition puts 30 of these books on display and is open until 16th August.

These sketchbooks provide a revealing insight into the process of research and experimentation that goes into producing a finished artwork showing initial concepts, notes and colour studies, as well as reflecting the surroundings of Shank’s life and the development of his artistic practice.

Do you use a sketchbook to conduct research before creating a final artwork? Sketchbooks until now have acted as a research tool for artists, storing thoughts, ideas, notes and references that can be used again and again to produce new pieces of work. In order to demonstrate this use Shank has added a dozen works on paper and 3 finished paintings that help to show the progression from sketchbook to finished work. More information on this exhibition, and the work of Shank can be found here.

The wonderful thing about artist’s sketchbooks is that they not only serve as a source of inspiration for their creator, but for future artists as well! With many sketchbooks put on display, published or stored in Archives future artists can benefit from the work of their predecessors and can continue to reinvent and interpret these materials. Within our collection we hold several examples of sketchbooks, including several belonging to GSA students and staff (including Mackintosh’s Italian Sketchbook) that we look to provide access to for the purposes of research and inspiration.

The library also holds several publications that feature sketchbooks from many different artistic professions including the work of fashion designers, infographic designers, textile artists and more. Take a look for yourself at the Library and Archives holdings and see what we have to offer.

Resources Used

The Hunterian, Duncan Shanks Sketchbooks: The Poetry of Place

Art UK, Duncan Shanks Paintings

The Scottish Gallery: Contemporary Art Since 1842, Duncan Shanks RSA, RSW, RGI

Pinterest, Duncan Shanks Paintings

Zarida Zaman, New Fashion Designers’ Sketchbooks

Hywel Davies, Fashion Designers’ Sketchbooks 2

Steven Heller and Rick Landers, Raw Data: Infographic