The artists using dyslexia as a creative force

Angus Hepburn
image captionAngus Hepburn has been volunteering at an arts centre in Arbroath

Two artists have been brought together through their personal experiences of dyslexia for a new arts project.

Turnberry-based Mark Stoddart has been a designer for 30 years, while Angus Hepburn, from Angus, has been looking for ways to give his career a boost.

Stoddart, whose bronze sculptures are produced at an Edinburgh foundry, has offered to fund the production of one of Hepburn’s designs.

Dyslexia Scotland put the artists in touch with each other.

Stoddart, who struggled with his dyslexia as a child, is an ambassador for the charity.

His artwork includes a life-size Model T Ford which was installed in Fort William to recall the driving of one of the American cars to the summit of Ben Nevis in 1911.

To mark the 30th anniversary of his career, he wanted to give something back by helping an artist in the early stages of their career.

Mark Stoddart
image captionMark Stoddart, left, designed a life-size Model T Ford sculpture for Fort William

Hepburn, 35, had worked in London after graduating from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen with a BA in Visual Communication.

But after a series of unpaid placements and having to supplement his art by working in the hospitality industry, he decided to return home to Scotland.

He has been volunteering at Hospitalfield House Arts Centre in Arbroath while applying for jobs, a task made tougher due to the impact of the Covid pandemic on businesses.

A meeting with the career service at Dyslexia Scotland led to Hepburn being put in touch with Stoddart.

Both men have faced challenges due to their dyslexia.

Stoddart said that as a child he was “introverted, withdrawn” and had “zero confidence”.

His life was turned around by the care and teaching he received at a school in Sussex between the ages of 13 and 18.

Angus Hepburn designs
image captionHepburn is working on a sculpture for the first time

Hepburn said he had enjoyed “amazing support” from his teachers

However, he added: “I’d found the world of work difficult, as the stigma associated with dyslexia can be very strong.

“Through my art, I had managed to overcome many of the obstacles I faced in my youth, but as a man, I felt I needed a bit of direction to translate my ideas and vision into an artistic reality and to make my mark, and my living, as an artist.”

He added: “It is just about catching a break. The opportunity to work with Mark came out of the blue.”

Stoddart said: “When I learned about Angus and his desire to use his dyslexia as a creative force, I was instantly reminded of my own sometimes difficult experiences in school and work.

“His motivation to do his own thing and forge his own artistic path directly matched my own ambitions as a young man, and I was delighted and humbled that Dyslexia Scotland thought of me as a mentor to Angus.”

The designer added: “After 30 years in the art business, I can help Angus polish his designs and avoid some of the pitfalls that lie between idea and execution.”


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