Three Little Words by Jim Carruth and Murray Robertson

Murray made a print that is entitled Three Little Words. In this image, he used a series of three-line poetic fragments from Jim Carruth’s poem (of the same title). Murray’s work here presents a many-sided figure with separate facets, an imaginary visual structure that is almost architecturally shaped to house knowledge. Carruth is a poet whose work is often focused on the life of farmers and rural dwellers; in this poem he was responding to the Foot and Mouth Disease Virus (FMDV). Writing about how this affected their collaboration, Robertson (who has a keen interest in science) said:

Many viruses (including FMDV) are based on icosahedral geometry. This architecture, which forms the ‘shell’ of the virus, is often represented in scientific diagrams as an icosahedron with triangular or trapezoid faces. It was felt that these faces would serve to carry the words of the work across the polyhedral form without losing the impact of the poem…The background textures are derived from satellite photography of farmland in Jim Carruth's local area of Renfrewshire.

The aesthetic effect in this print with text is reminiscent of fifteenth and sixteenth century alchemical images, which encoded, classified and presented forms of knowledge simultaneously. Given the fact that alchemical images were made to share knowledge safely with the trained scholar through visual metaphor, it is no accident that the scientific depictions of knowledge in the twenty-first and fifteenth centuries find such resonance in the scientifically inspired work of Murray and Carruth here.

Jim Carruth's first collection Bovine Pastoral was published in 2004. Since then he has brought out a further two collections and an illustrated fable. In 2009 he was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship and was the winner of the James McCash poetry competition. More recently The Glasgow Jazz Festival commissioned a sequence entitled “Grace Notes 1959” which was launched in June 2010.

Murray Robertson, born 1961. Attended Glasgow School of Art where he received both his BA and PG diploma. He has exhibited his art worldwide, with solo exhibitions in Japan, Finland and Northern Ireland, and since 1986 has worked as master printer at the Glasgow Print Studio. He has held residencies in Mexico, Germany, Japan and Finland, with interests that range across science, alchemy and technology.