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John Grant Clifford

Artist Biography

John Grant Clifford ARSA graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in 1967 where his studies were focused on drawing and painting from the figure and still life with an element of composition; where students could stretch their imagination and technical expertise. The emphasis was on seeing and the acquisition of skills. His interest centred mainly on the figure and making the model look as human as possible. Liberal studies introduced him to philosophy, religion and politics. To this day he remains fascinated by the innovative power of early Greek thought and its consequences in our culture. These interests continued to develop at the Royal College of Art, including writing poetry which he started in his early teens; another way of enabling him to understand the subtler realities of life. He continued to paint figuratively and his interest in philosophy and the interior life of human beings deepened. However, these three strands, the sensuality of painting, the intellectualism of philosophy, the intuition of poetry, did not come together in him until in his late thirties when he discovered the work of the Swiss psychiatrist/psychologist, writer and artist C.G.Jung.

Artist’s Statement

In January I was operated on to remove a cancerous growth. I was under anaesthetic for rather a long time and consequently experienced my ‘returning’ sense of personality and conscious self-awareness as happening in several different stages. What I experienced was a gradual reconstituting of elements of sensation, feeling and conscious awareness which were not present when I ‘awakened’ after the operation. The intriguing fact was that I was not aware the element was missing until it returned. For example my awareness of colour; one morning I realised I was staring, fascinated by the ‘beautiful’ iridescent colours in some drip bags hanging across the ward from me.

Several days passed before the strangest visitation of all. I was lying in bed in the ward and felt a rushing into me from my upper left side (like a force) of a strongly felt desire to live my life and enjoy it to the full. Until then I was unaware of how ‘dead’ to myself I had been. Writing this seems to wrap the whole event in consciousness; in fact I believe I was essentially unconscious after the anaesthetic, before this quickening of desire returned.

I believe the earliest references to such archetypal experiences are in Egyptian mythology. The Ka is the personified (self) conscious part of the personality which can come and go at its own volition. The Ba is the soul (vital) part which enters at birth and leaves at death.

What constitutes the Self and the relation between brain, mind and body remains a mystery. As deep as the mystery of the chemistry which underpins human relationships, and which sharpens our appetite for life. These latest works are my celebration of these mysteries.

Grant Clifford                                                                 Hawksgrove, June 2007

Selected Exhibitions 


1967 & 1968 British Institute Award for Painting

1973 Robert Colquohoun Painting Prize

1974 Royal Scottish Academy Latimer Award

1975 Royal Scottish Academy Guthrie Award

1976 & 1979 Arts Council Bursary Awards

1983 Elected Associate Member of Royal Scottish Academy

1975 – 1980 Founder member and past president of Dundee Group Artists Ltd


1970-75 All RSA Annual Exhibitions

1970-80 All SSA Annual Exhibitions

1969 RCA Group Exhibition, RCA Gallery

1980-92 All Compass Gallery Christmas Exhibitions

1990 Duncan of Jordanstone Fine Art

1975-80 Dundee Group Travelling Exhibitions in Scotland

1980 Dundee Group Artists Ltd, Selected Exhibition in Vlissingen, Holland and the British    Council, Gallery, Amsterdam 

1990 RSA Guthrie Award Winners Exhibition, Edinburgh & Glasgow

1992 Tramway Exhibition, Compass Gallery

1994 5 Scottish Artists, Centre de Art En L’lle Geneva

Scottish Arts Council Exhibitions

A Choice Selection, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh

Six Dundee Artists, McManus Gallery, Dundee

Solo Exhibitions

1978 Compass Gallery, Glasgow

1975 Whitehouse Gallery, Newcastle

1972 Meffan Gallery, Forfar

1996 Francis Cooper Gallery, Dundee