Congratulations to Susan McGill Designs who have been nominated in Scots Business o the Year in the Scots Language Awards 2020. Vote now!
We asked Susan McGill of Susan McGill Designs the following questions.
Tell us aboot yersel or yer ootfit.
Susan McGill Designs is a small company based in Kirkcaldy, Fife. The company is run by myself (Susan McGill) the maker and designer and my sister Anna MacKenzie who looks after absolutely everything else! I left Art College in Dundee in 1991 with my degree in ceramics which is still very much my passion. My hand painted black and white designs are influenced by family life, tradition, nostalgia and my love of the Scots language. My work is both functional and decorative so it can carry Scots verse to the kitchen table at the heart of the family. My designs have now been rolled out onto other ‘things’ I love having in my life which I sell through my website. These include silk scarves, printed birchwood trays, limited edition screen prints and neon acrylic Luckenbooth brooches, to name but a few!
Whit wis it got ye involvit wi the Scots leid?
My family! I was brought up in a large family including two grannies who provided singing, poetry, sayings, games and stories. I loved learning poems ‘off by heart’ when I was young and can still remember many of them now, even when I can’t remember what was on my shopping list! I don’t think I was aware of how deeply these seeds had been sown in my younger years until they all came pouring back out onto my ceramics. The humour, sorrow, joy and romance of my country is so heartfelt within the language that it can’t fail to bewitch you and draw you in.
Ony particlar career heighlichts?
In 2011 I worked with Bob Phaff who started The St. Andrews Brewing Company designing their labels. I still take great delight in seeing them popping up unexpectedly in shops and bars.
In 2014 I worked on a collaborative project with DR Whisky where I was given a beautiful single cask, single malt whisky to come up with a concept for. The whisky was called ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ and was presented in a heart shaped bottle and packaged in a keepsake box, decorated with the story of the love letters of Sylvander and Clarinda.
Oor Wullie Bucket trail 2016 in Dundee was great fun. I submitted a design called ‘Oor Rabbie-The Bard on the Bucket’ and got to paint this amazing tribute from head to toe with poetry and tattooed designs including a moosie, a dug and a liberal sprinkling of head lice.
In 2019 I took part in The Oor Wullie Big Bucket Trail across Scotland, where my design was ‘Oor Rabbie Rides Again’-The legend of Tam o’ Shanter. This time Wullie was covered in patches of designs and words from the famous poem.
My most recent highlight has been the charity print I produced during the first ‘very strange’ 3 week period of Lockdown in March this year. I produced a print based on the lyric ‘I’d Rather Stay Home in Kirkcaldy’ from the song Geordie Munro. To my complete amazement I ended up selling just over 600 prints and was able to give over £5000 each to both Kirkcaldy Foodbank and The Cottage Family Centre. Totally overwhelming!
Taking part in Pittenweem Arts Festival every summer is a yearly highlight for me. This is when I can spend ten days talking to people about my work and enjoying, first hand, all the connections made through the text and verses used in my designs.
Wha’s yer plans fir the days aheid?
Well… There’s a question!
I am hoping that my Christmas shows can go ahead in some capacity. I am working on these just now. My ‘Scunnered 2020’ Mugs are looking like they may be quite popular this year!! Working with the Scots language and connecting into peoples memories, heritage and all the emotional highs and lows that go with that is such a privilege. Every time I meet new people I get their stories- a different verse for ‘Three Craws’, a different version of ‘The Selkirk Grace’, the song that was sung at their wedding, their granny’s favourite saying.
My plan is just to keep going-it’s not as if I will ever be stuck for inspiration!
Read more about Susan McGill Designs
The Scots Language Awards 2020 will be online at www.scotslanguageawards.com. We will have a mixture of events on the 23rd / 24th October. Performing at the Award on Saturday 24th September will be Gerda Stevenson, Gary Robertson, Shona Donaldson and Jim Malcolm.
If you would like to support Hands Up for Trad in their work with Scottish trad music and musicians please consider supporting our Patreon campaign. We have 3 tiers starting at $1 a month and everything helps support us in our work. Read more at www.patreon.com/handsupfortrad
This post is also available in: Scots