The Art Of Poetry

scArtwheel is a collaboration by poet Hugh McMillan and artist Robert Campbell Henderson. The work combines poetry with art and film plus live performance. Working independently of each other the project emerged from an exchange on social media. It seems fitting to develop it further on this platform, the idea being to create a moveable feast of work which will feature poems and images plus special events and readings in the future.

Hugh McMillan is a poet and writer from South-West Scotland who has been published and anthologised widely. An award winner in competitions including the Smith/Doorstep Pamphlet Prize, the Callum MacDonald Prize and the Cardiff International Poetry Competition, he has also been shortlisted for the Michael Marks Prize, the Basil Bunting Poetry Award and the Bridport Prize. Robert Campbell Henderson was born and grew up in Thornhill in South-West Scotland and now lives and works in the South of France. He was selected for EAST International Norwich and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in the UK and more recently has exhibited his work in galleries throughout France.

The work " Blash o God" was completed during the period January - February 2019 and has been exhibited in France as well as Thornhill, Wigtown, Dumfries, Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland. In March 2021 it was part of the online StAnza International Poetry Festival. A 46 page book version is still available to purchase.

"Fall of Bridges and the Triumph of Poetry" is a new body of work completed during the period June 2019 - February 2021 and is a varied collection of poems with different infuences. The bulk of the work was made during COVID lockdown restictions.

All the work is available to read on digital flipbooks accessed via the links from the menu. We are in the process of making short films and audio podcasts for all the poems, which will be shared via "FEATURED WORK" and which will be updated on a regular basis.

about image

All poems written by Hugh McMillan. All images by Robert C. Henderson

The title was taken from the first poem featured in a new book of 25 poems/images made during the period December 2019 - February 2021. Much of the work is centred on the area of Upper Nithsdale in Dumfries & Galloway, with the backbone being the rivers Nith and Scaur as well as the stones, crosses, cairns, follies and menhirs of the surrounding landscape.

2020 will long be remembered for COVID 19 and lockdowns. The premise behind some of the other poems was fairly simple, the idea of poet responding to artist and artist responding to poet. All the work was created remotely from our respective locations in France and Scotland via social media.

The final section consists of five poems based on found copper plate engravings by French artist Serge Arnoux who died in 2014. After his death, a batch of his etching plates ended up in a scrapyard in Sarlat France where they were destined to be melted down in the furnace and subsequent to their rescue it seemed a good idea to breath new life into what had nearly been lost forever. The plates were reprinted with added colour and combined with poems written as a direct response to imagined subject matter.

Click on the link " Fall of Bridges and the Triumph of Poetry"  to access the digital flipbook.

"by a lock of their hair, they hoped to fly to Heaven"

This project involved a creative interpretation across poetry, art, video and performance and based on a Utopian 18th Century cult led by a charismatic woman, Elspeth Buchan, who became convinced that she had a central role to play in the Second Coming, specifically that she and a minister from Troon were embodiments of certain key figures in the Book of Revelations. She had calculated when the cult was to be ‘transported’ to heaven and set about founding a community to prepare for this. Thrown out of Ayrshire they ended up in Templand, near Thornhill in Dumfries and Galloway. They practised communal ownership and free love and scandalised the local community though the landowner who rented property to them, talked admiringly of their discipline and work ethic. Burns “rescued” one of their adherents. Several deadlines for ‘translation’ to heaven came and went and the followers dwindled till eventually only one was left, Anthony Innes. The cult had by this time moved to Crocketford. When Elspeth died, Innes kept the mummified body, and on his deathbed insisted he be buried on top of her body so that he would fly away to heaven too. The project is fascinating in that the Buchanites’ beliefs flew in the face of contemporary convention and in that the central role was played by a hugely able, resilient and talented working class woman.

Click here to access the full series on digital flipbook format  "Blash o God" The work was made January - April 2019.

If you prefer to hear Hugh reading and speaking the poems CLICK HERE to see the film "The Buchanites - A Heretic's Tale"

blash O God image

Monosyllabic grumpy poet continues to squeeze whatever misery he can from sylvan setting.

Below are a few links all of which we have some personal experience.

Hugh McMillan
Eleven collections of poetry including "Blash o God are available to purchase. Contact Hugh direct for more information and pricing.

Robert Campbell Henderson
Printmaking : Polaroid : Photography : Sculpture : Film

Atelier de Melusine
An artist led studio and gallery, located in central France. Exhibited " Blash o God in May 2019

Thomas Tosh Gallery Thornhill Scotland
Based in the old parish hall in Thornhill, Dumfries & Galloway. It features a cafe, interiors, gift and book departments and gallery. Featured "Blash o God" in September 2019

Wigtown International Book Festival
A ten-day literary festival held each autumn in Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway, south-west Scotland. Hosted a live event of "Blash o God" in October 2019

The Stove Network
An award-winning arts and community project based in the heart of Dumfries High Street. Exhibited "Blash o God" in November 2019

Cheeky Besom Productions
Artists with Attitude’: A Glasgow based artist collective, making and creating, for the love of the literary arts and culture. Featured "Blash o God as a live event November 2019

Scottish Poetry Library
A unique national resource and advocate for the art of poetry, and Scottish poetry in particular. Exhibited "Blash o God" in December 2019

StAnza Poetry Festival
Scotland's unique international poetry festival. Featured "The Buchanites - A Hertics Tale" film as part of the online 2021 festival.

A Plague of Poetry
Hugh McMillan responded to the restrictions of lockdown in summer 2020 by inviting over one hundred poets from around the world to film themselves reading a poem. You can see them all here.

The Poets' Republic

Founded in 2014 to create an alternative forum to established poetry outlets. Distinctive magazines - packed with poetry from across the world - are published biannually. Hugh McMillan is part of the team.

Drunk Muse Press

Drunk Muse Press was founded in late 2020 by Neil Young and Hugh McMillan, based in Scotland, and Jessamine O' Connor in Ireland. Their purpose is to champion poetry that insists on wider attention . . . by poets with a compelling way of expressing it.

We want to hear from you. Send us your comments and ideas. Write a poem. We like collaborations.