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'Wickers at War' artwork auctioned for NHS


By David G Scott

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AN artist from Wick, now living in New York, is auctioning one of his works in support of the NHS as it battles coronavirus.

Professor Ian Charles Scott created a satirical drawing based on a poster for war film The Wild Geese and turned the main actors into Wick stalwarts decked out as mercenaries battling Covid-19.

"It's ink and watercolour with minimal colour to create the desired feel of these characters fighting against this unseen enemy, coronavirus," he said.

Ian took a couple of hours to create the piece but had originally done a smaller version on the front of an envelope he posted to a friend in Wick.

His friend suggested making a larger copy with proceeds of the sale going to the local hospital and the new work arrived in Wick last week, ready to be auctioned off for charity.

In a YouTube video made for his art students at Hostos College in the Bronx, Ian discusses the sketch along with another of his works.

Since the college went into lockdown in April, Ian has been teaching his students remotely through a series of online classes on his YouTube channel.

One of Ian's students, Esther Reid, created this atmospheric portrait of life in New York during the pandemic.Picture: Esther Reid
One of Ian's students, Esther Reid, created this atmospheric portrait of life in New York during the pandemic.Picture: Esther Reid

"Some of the students are actually suffering from Covid-19 and self-isolating as best as they can," he said.

"Quite a few are trapped in unstable households where there is no escape apart from art and some who have come here from abroad are completely alone."

Ian says that the online classes and communications via text and email "can be a lifeline of human contact".

Speaking at the weekend, he said: "Every day and at any time, students will contact me and I encourage them to share any difficulties as well as their artworks. Sometimes you can see the problems in the artwork.

"Today I received a huge drawing emailed through showing a graveyard at night. A woman prays in front of a gravestone which has the name of her husband on it.

"Bodies are forklifted out of the hospital here in Brooklyn every day and placed in huge refrigerated trucks that wait outside, their cooling systems purring all night.

"The graveyards are full and there is talk of burying them in parks. A thousand deaths a day would mean that in just over a week every individual in Wick would be dead."

Ian's original sketch of the Wickers at war was on the front of an envelope he sent to a friend in Wick.
Ian's original sketch of the Wickers at war was on the front of an envelope he sent to a friend in Wick.

He said that despite the high numbers of deaths many in the city are failing to follow simple lockdown regulations.

"Exercise trips to the park require mask and strict distance from joggers, dog walkers and cyclists. Despite this being the world epicentre of deaths many still do not wear masks and are not conscious or intelligent enough to observe social distancing."

Nevertheless, he talks of experiencing the altruistic side of people during the pandemic.

"I am very lucky to have two sets of neighbours who are leaving bags of groceries on my front stoop.

"This is the great side of Americans – a generous nature that demands nothing in return."

Ian talks of a Buddhist teaching called "the learning of no escape". If there appears a situation from which you simply cannot escape, you will learn to transform yourself from the inside.

"It is regarded as the greatest opportunity for self-development," he said.

"The most difficult periods are those which give us the greatest teaching.

"This period of life can be the greatest opportunity. Mankind has paused its constant business and distraction to avoid confrontation with reality."

He says that in this period of "no escape" we will learn.

Ian with one of his paintings that featured in St Fergus Gallery's last exhibition before it closed.Picture: DGS
Ian with one of his paintings that featured in St Fergus Gallery's last exhibition before it closed.Picture: DGS

Staff and students at his college had "to flee with one day's notice" and since then he has been "inspiring and instructing" through the online videos.

"I've quite a few fans in Caithness who have already been sending comments as well."

Ian said that his thoughts during the coronavirus crisis have drifted back to his home town of Wick and how he could help in any way.

"I read the online Groat and saw how the hospital in Wick needed help with PPE and suchlike so I thought I'd donate the proceeds of this newly created drawing to Caithness General to use as they see fit."

Anyone who is interested in buying Ian's work can visit Wick-based Cashpoint Auctions & Sales Facebook page for more information and should register for bidding on the auctioneer's website at www.cashpoint45.com/

Bids end on May 30.


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