Date Posted: 24th December 2014

Not just a robin.

This is not just a Robin –nor is it a round robin prevalent at this time of year - it’s a Percy Kelly robin. Like so much of Kelly’s work it is the essence of simplicity. But this robin has attitude. It has character. It’s nothing like the feathered bird which is on the bird feeder outside right now.  Yet we all recognise it as a robin.
Simplicity is hard to achieve. To gouge out lino to make this 5 colour print was a complex process. No wonder he had to start in September. No wonder he got annoyed if people didn’t acknowledge receipt of his card.  He felt they didn’t appreciate the effort he had made to get this result.
Likewise his Christmas greeting – perfectly balanced, interesting, different.
This was his 1986 card when his inability to see anything from any point of view other than his own had worsened. He couldn’t understand  that the recipients might have other things to think about at this time of year –family, gifts, shopping, cooking, weather,  because he was so absorbed  in himself and his problems. Those who didn’t respond promptly were taken off his list.
In June 1995 I showed some sculpture in the garden by two recent graduates working at the Glasgow Sculpture School. Many of you will remember the giant fibreglass apple in two halves that Russell (I kept calling him russet!) placed beneath the apple tree and the large welded steel abstracts that Jo exhibited on the main lawn. This show had a stressful start because their van broke down at Thursby and finally arrived the evening before the opening on a low loader. By the time it was all unloaded it was dark, they were covered in oil and had no change of clothes so I offered them a bath and bed in the studio on the second floor of Castlegate.  I was sorting out the contents of Pear Tree Cottage up there – cataloguing and photographing Kelly’s work. Few people had heard of Percy at that time.
Jo stopped in the doorway in amazement. ‘Percy Kelly’ he said. ‘My parents used to get a hand made Christmas card from him every year. They stopped about 2 years ago.  Do you know how he is? They are concerned about him.’
His parents had saved and cherished  every  one just as many other people had. I told him why the cards had stopped.
I don’t think Jo slept very well that night. He was overcome at the sight of all this beautiful work which surrounded him.
Thank you for reading my scribbles. Thank you for the great reception you’ve given to The Kelly Trails. There will be exciting news in 2015 so keep going!
Have a great Christmas break and I hope you have a happy and peaceful New Year.