September 22, 2008

Bill Takes Pryde in His Printmaking

By Adam Morris

WHEN Bill Pryde was a child, he would spend hours on Blackford Hill gazing out towards the Forth wondering what the future held for him.

Now, almost half a century on, the 57-year-old has left a glittering career in TV and the arts behind him in order to pursue a dream which he now realises was conceived on those summer afternoons at the city beauty spot.

Bill took the plunge five years ago, stepping back from a busy showbiz life to produce and sell his own artistic prints.

He revealed that while that was a big decision to take at the time, the prospect of his first exhibition in his home town, due to open later this month, has left him more nervous.

The former George Watson's pupil returned to Edinburgh after graduating in English in York to begin a remarkable career that has seen him rub shoulders with theatre and television superstars.

From working with the Traverse and the Royal Lyceum, his career eventually took him to London via Birmingham where he directed prime- time television programmes like The Bill, Casualty and Pie in the Sky.

But despite work with prominent theatres and television producers, a gap was missing which Bill has now filled, thanks to printmaking.

He said: "I loved theatre, but when it came to running a place you find yourself worrying more about ice-cream sales than the quality of the production.

"Television was 100 miles per hour, you only had five minutes to do everything and I found it frustrating because you could never quite seem to create what you want.

"It couldn't be more different from directing theatre, but it wasn't the kind of work I wanted to be producing.

"There would be things I thought needed to take three days to make, but they would want it in one shot."

But all that changed when he graduated from Camberwell College of Arts in July 2003 and began his new lease of life.

"I began painting for myself and a few of my friends said I could really do this, so I went to college to start something new at 50," he said.

The inspiration for Mr Pryde's Works on Paper: Travels in India and beyond display, though, came mostly from a recent trip around India, where the natural displays of colour and structure amazed him.

He was treated to special tours by his brother, who works for the British Consulate there. Bill said: "The assault on your senses from visiting India is staggering.

"My work is very two-dimensional so it relies very heavily on landscape or buildings and colour. "India is extraordinary because of the colour of the skies and the culture."

Despite always being well received when he exhibits down south, Mr Pryde is still not 100 per cent convinced of what the Edinburgh crowd will make of him.

"Maybe it's because I grew up there, but you're worried no-one will turn up or everyone will hate it," he said.

"There's always this thing in the back of my mind that folk in Edinburgh who I knew would resent the fact I went down south. I do see it as a risk I'm taking, I feel like there's a part of you that's never forgiven for that.

"But Edinburgh has been so good to me and I feel I want to show the city what I have done."

For more information on Bill's exhibition, which runs at the Dundas Street Gallery from September 26 until October 4, visit his website at

(c) 2008 Evening News; Edinburgh (UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.