Call for Papers

The Call for Papers will be added to this page following the International Alasdair Gray Symposium, which is happening online on April 23rd 2021.

Ali Smith

Jenny Brownrigg, Exhibitions Director at The Glasgow School of Art

‘Both come naturally to me. I found, when drawing and imagining things in words, that each was a complement to the other.’

Alasdair Gray, interview in The Paris Review, 2017

This two-day interdisciplinary conference will examine the nature, value and legacy of Alasdair Gray’s artistic output, considering his literary work and his visual practice, and the relationship between the two in Gray’s oeuvre. The conference is entitled “Making Imagined Objects” in tribute to Gray’s own repeated and modest claim that he was a “maker of imagined objects”. We wish to investigate the objects – or “things”, another important word in Gray’s vocabulary – that he manufactured, working across artforms, genres and space.

This international conference on the artist who has been hailed as “a necessary genius” (Ali Smith) welcomes critical as well as creative and hybrid, creative-academic responses to Gray’s work.

Since the turn of the century, much has changed both in terms of Gray’s work and the context for it, not least the increased attention that his visual practice has received. After decades of neglect, with Gray murals being destroyed or forgotten, and his paintings often ignored, recent years have seen a radical transformation of his reputation as a visual artist. Meanwhile he completed his life-long aim of publishing a series of his collected literary works: his short stories (Every Short Story, 2012), his non-fiction (Of Me & Others, 2018), his “auto-pictography” (A Life in Pictures, 2010), his poetry (Collected Verse, 2010), and his drama (A Gray Play Book, 2009). He also produced another book arguing for Scottish home rule, published in 2014, the year of the Scottish Referendum (Independence). There is now a vast archive of works ripe for fresh analysis. Gray’s most recent publications were Hell (2018) and Purgatory (2019), the first and second in a trilogy of poetic responses to Dante’s Inferno – and until his death in December 2019 he continued to work on multiple projects, both literary and artistic. Meanwhile, every day Glaswegians and visitors to Glasgow experience his work as part of the landscape he has made it his life’s work to document.

We welcome proposals that address the conference theme “Across Space and Form” from different perspectives, including but not limited to:

  • Gray the polymath: The Art of Blurring Genre & Form
  • Conjuring Glasgow: Making a City
  • Gray’s Major Works, Across Space & Form
  • Making God: Gray & Religion
  • Portraits & Self-Portraits: Making Scotland
  • Gray & Narrative
  • Green Gray – Recycling, Across Space & Form
  • Gray & the Art of Independence
  • Vision and Language: Connections in Gray’s practice
  • Gray, Gender & Sexuality
  • Texts and Paratexts: from Word to Image & Image to Word
  • Adapting Gray: Creative, Hybrid & Performative Responses
  • Spheres of Influence: National & Transnational Contexts

A call for abstracts will go out in October 2021, more details to follow. v

Successful applicants will be notified by January 2022.

Please note that we may be able to award postgraduate travel bursaries. If you would like to be considered for a bursary, please include a 200-word explanation about how the conference relates to your research, along with a breakdown of your expenses.

Further information on the conference can be found here: