‘This Guy’s Not for Burning’

‘Jacobite Rose’. UV pen and UV torch on A4 paper. (Created for the Traquair House ‘This Guy’s Not for Burning’ exhibition) November 2018. Rose Strang 2018.

Above, my ultra-violet design in UV pen.

It’s drawn free-hand from a Jacobite rose design, and is only viewable with UV torch. Some more images …









About the artwork …

I completely forgot to upload this artwork at the time, which was remiss of me! It’s from November last year, and I made it during my residency on the Isle of Iona.

I was invited by Richard Demarco to contribute a work for Traquair House’s annual ‘This Guy’s Not for Burning’ exhibition. This is something of a yearly tradition for the house, which has Catholic and Jacobite links going back many centuries.

Not being Catholic or a member of any religious group myself, I wondered what might be appropriate – obviously the name of the exhibition refers to Guy Fawke’s famous attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament, the ‘Gunpowder Plot’ of 1605. He was part of a small group of Catholics who wished to see the Catholic royal dynasty restored to the throne, which was occupied at the time by the Protestant King James. Guy Fawkes was caught, tortured and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. Mercifully the rope wasn’t arranged correctly and he was spared part of this by dying during the hanging, thus avoiding the rest.

And we celebrate this every year on the 5th November by burning an effigy of Fawkes….hmm, you don’t have to be Catholic to find that pretty repellent.

I felt honoured to be asked to contribute work for the exhibition, but flummoxed as to how I might respond to the theme – I couldn’t respond on one side or other on the religious argument, but I could honour the memory of those who sought to protect fugitives from such brutal justice (which occurred on both sides of course, at different periods of history). Also, as a supporter of Scottish independence, I could  respond on one level at least to the early (predominantly but not exclusively Catholic) Jacobite cause!

Looking into the history of Traquair House (a beautiful 12th century manor house situated in Innerleithen on the Scottish Border), it seems that it may have been a place for persecuted Jacobites to hide during the uprisings in order to escape torture and death. Clandestine Jacobite signs and symbols were used in letters or on brooches for example, that were a sign of someone dedicated to the cause. The Jacobite rose refers of course to the ‘white rose of Scotland’ – a symbol adopted by Jacobites at the time.








It struck me though that these symbols would have been quickly discovered by government intelligence at the time, so I speculated about the use of invisible ink, then – voila! – my Jacobite rose in UV pen.

This was a lot of fun to think up, but I was surprised by how aesthetically pleasing it was too. The particular shade of indigo blue is soothing, slightly mystical. As you can see it requires a UV torch to reveal the design. The design itself was drawn free-hand, while shining the torch on to paper. The darker the room, the more blue it appears, though it’s viewable with the torch in daylight too.

I now have just one week to complete ‘Jupiter’ before my open studio day at Abbeyhill Studio, and before the two paintings ‘Jupiter’ and ‘Saturn’ are sent off to the Limtree Gallery Bristol, for inclusion in the upcoming Battersea Art Fair. My latest post on the Planets Series Here


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