1971 – Willie Rodger

This week’s #BriginColour focuses on a Brig cover from 1971. We thought we would look at artwork by the artist Willie Rodger which was added to the Art Collection in 1971. The Art Collection holds 20 artworks by Willie in our collections. In 1971 we added three works (L-R) The Boat, Anne and Where did I go wrong into the collection.

Born in Kirkintilloch, Willie Rodger studied at Glasgow School of Art then taught art in schools for many years, all the while painting and printmaking. He was the first printmaker to be awarded Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1989, of the Royal Glasgow Institute in 1994 and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Stirling in 1999.

His works are familiar to all that visit the Pathfoot Building. So much so that he was interviewed in his studio for a short film Corridor of Dreams, which included interviews with Scottish artists in the University of Stirling Art Collection in their studios. The film celebrated works of Art from the collection through the eyes of people who passed them on a daily basis

Willie Rodger interview. Extract from Corridor of Dreams

Willie was known as Scotland’s master printmaker as well as being an accomplished painter and designer of stained glass windows. His huge individual and stunning woodcuts and wood engravings are instantly recognisable with their high standard of draughtsmanship and design. He was also much loved for his direct yet witty approach of looking at the world around him.

In common with all great artists, he gave freely of his knowledge and demonstrated his techniques and thought processes with modesty and clarity. He was Principal Teacher of Art at Clydebank High School from 1968 to 1987 and his former pupils remember well the impact that he had on their lives and careers

In our day your choices when you left school were John Brown’s shipyard or the Singer sewing machine factory.  Art School was another planet, and yet with Willie’s help and encouragement this council house boy ended up at Glasgow School of Art, and the Royal College of Art, studying Jewellery.

Tom Dobbie, photographer

One of the very few teachers who never lost faith in me, Willie single-handedly took this scruffy, cheeky kid from a blinkered, depressed environment and inspired him to reach for the stars.  I owe Willie more than a lot.  I owe him everything.

Mitch Davidson, Art Director

The Art Collection hosted a major exhibition of Willie’s work in 2007, which was opened by the poet Liz Lochead. She wrote the poem below detailing her feeling’s about his work.


Is essential essentially

it’s          made by hand                  created from the heart

from the heart of this most creative family

with perfect       and perfected   economy

with nothing but

the eye                                 the cut

the dab hand

the knife              the lino, ink and roller

the perfect paper (the black and

not quite


with maybe the black on softest red?                      the black on buff?

 With the never too much             the always enough

the dab hand

the either/or

the both, the and

with       essentially

 the block and the roller                the paper

 the ink

is light, deep

funny, sad




in a print              can make Scottish haiku?



and what he sees shows face to face

it’s full of grace

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