Season’s Greetings ❄☃

Hope you are keeping cosy and wishing you a peaceful and relaxing Christmas and New Year holiday ❄️ Here is my Season’s Greetings card, an an abstracted view (actually a few viewpoints brought together in one piece) made in the Dundee University Botanical Gardens using pens, ink and pencil on calligraphy board.

Season's Greetings - Blair Thomson

This artwork, as well as two other pieces, were recently exhibited in the Green Gallery at the Botanics, alongside seven wonderful artists whom I was delighted to work with, taking the mindset of Japanese Renga poetry as a starting point for creative collaboration based on the being at the gardens, including my friend Margaret Kerr who kindly organised the residency and exhibition.

Please see my blogpost below for images of the show and more info.

With palms together and kind wishes for 2024, Year of the Dragon 🐉

Renga: place and time entwined

Exhibition organised by Margaret Kerr

5th – 25th November 2023
Green Gallery, Dundee University Botanical Gardens

About this exhibition

This exhibition features work by eight artists who spent an August weekend making art in the Botanics this year.

Our work was inspired by the Japanese concept of Renga. Renga is a form of poetry composed by a group of authors: each contributing their part in a dynamic, unfolding process. It encapsulates the experience of being in a specific place and time.

Renga offers the chance to escape the limitations of a single viewpoint. It weaves together different, but connected pieces, like ‘shimmering threads’ into a whole, which is greater than the sum of its parts (Ogawa) .

This allows a feeling of place and time to emerge between the lines. This kind of feeling can be delicate, but leave the reader with a powerful sense of ‘something’ greater than what is explicitly said. The Japanese writer Terada Torahiko likened this subtle but potent sense to ‘a plum’s scent on a dim moon night’

As artists from diverse backgrounds, together we made a visual / auditory / somatic / verbal renga, which is this exhibition.

Working in this way, we supported and learned from each other’s practice. We also became intimate with the stones, pigments, water, plants, sounds, animals, insects, colours and textures of the Botanics, which all contribute their voices to the poetry of the place.

Artwork by Shōgen Blair


Shōgen Blair Thomson is an artist fusing approaches such as Japanese Shodō calligraphy, Zen meditative perspectives as well as drawing and painting to investigate dynamic impermanence and the wondrous nature of reality, attempting to create worlds within the worlds we perceive. 

Work at Dundee Botanical Gardens

After some time to settle and start accepting the Renga mindset of diffusing the self to let go of egoic artistic activity and so to allow working together with the other artists on the connected theme, I was influenced by the arrangement of negative spaces and intervening textures of the garden, and next by the vividness and variety of the other creative responses made. 

I first tried some experiments outdoors using pencil, calligraphy board and paints to connect to the place and map out a response to spaces of interest, and I brought in the kanji characters 連 Ren (connect, take along) and 歌 Ga (song, poem) to make some sense for me of the task at hand. I played with the idea of ‘shimmering threads’ using the materials and seeking to bring in some mature sense of timelessness (from the cultivated garden with pencil) along with spontaneity (floating yellow characters in fully cursive style font).

Next, influenced by the energy and curiosity of works made and ideas collected by the other artists, I freely explored the ‘punky’ north side of the garden using board again but this time with high key pens and brush-pens. In this larger piece I aimed to tease out a more modern response, looking at multiple viewpoints to build up an alternative and explosive botanical landscape.

Shogen Blair - Bakuhatsu-Dundee Botanic Gardens -Mixed media on calligraphy board

Season’s Greetings

Hope you are keeping well and wishing you a peaceful and relaxing Christmas and New Year holiday ❄️ Here is my Season’s Greetings card, an aerial inspired one of Glasgow this year.

In 2022 I’ve been creating worlds within worlds – photography, paintings, Japanese stamp making and practising Shodo calligraphy. In May I was fortunate to have my artwork exhibited in Japan in an exciting large public exhibition of mainly abstract works in Uozu – please see the ART/X/TOYAMA Youtube video, from 12mins 41 seconds:

I was also busy with a colourful and fun community mural in Maryhill, Glasgow over summer, helped by the fab community, with over 100 folk mainly young people taking part:

With palms together and kind wishes for 2023, Year of the Rabbit 🐰


Season’s Greetings ❄️

Hope you are keeping well and wishing you a peaceful and relaxing Christmas and New Year holiday ☃️


Season's Greetings Blair Thomson 2021

I’ve been fortunate to practice different styles of Shodo calligraphy, jazzy abstract pieces and mysterious photography in 2021. I’ve been especially busy with community creative groups in Glasgow and online on Zoom.


With palms together and kind wishes for 2022, Year of the Tiger 🐯


Remembering the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake

It is now ten years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. We wish to send our warm wishes to all those still very much affected in the Tohoku area and in other parts of Japan – our hearts and thoughts are with you. May you be happy and may you be well.

This sketch is a soft inky piece I made while travelling in Japan (using sumi ink and fude brush and pens), I was enjoying the presence and curves of the Sanjunoto three level Buddhist towers.