"On August 19th at the age of 90 Edwin Morgan, the national poet of Scotland passed away.
My first encounters with his work happened in the classrooms of my secondary school in Ayrshire where I was transfixed by poems which turned seemingly mundane events into compelling narratives with poems which ranged from dark to light, expressing thoughts in feelings in a way I never could.
When he later worked with one of my favourite bands Idlewild on the track Scottish Fiction, a new audience opened up to his work, with that song and poem combining to create one of most powerfull and moving expressions of music I've heard, something later matched by the song The Weight of Years, a track in which Morgan looks back over his life to his younger years.
As I've often mentioned it was his words which inspired me to not only look inwards, but to explore the world around me. His poets eye ranged across not only Scotland but beyond drawing together the many disporate strands of existence, always trying to make sense of the chaos. I looked at Scotland differently after I had read his words, and I actively sought out those places listed in his works from Schiehallion to the Quiraing.
In the last year I had the opportunity to work with Eddie on a selection of poems to be read from the 4th plinth in London, and later had the chance to make a series of portraits for his upcoming biography by his close friend Prof. James McGonigal.
Eddie was the inspiration behind my Sonnets series, and the opportunity to meet someone who has driven me to be creative was a daunting experience, and as Neale Smith will testify I was extrememly nervous - Eddie however was kind, polite, understanding and interested which certainly helped me overcome my nerves.
The last time I saw and spoke to him was at his 90th Birthday party where he looked happy, full of life and surrounded by friends and admirers.
This image of EM was taken at that nursing home portrait session and is I believe one of the last portraits taken of him, and shows him closing his eyes for a split second. I did not want to release it while he was still with us as I found it too upsetting, but now it seems in some respects to be quite a poignant image. I will however remember him like this with a huge smile on his face and that mischievous glint on his eye.
I will miss him terribly, however he will long live on through his words.
There will never be another like him. Goodbye Eddie.