RAOUL RAOUL RAOUL/// Raoul Reynolds

  • Posted on: April 7th, 2016
  • By James McLardy

‘Without Real Work There is No Real Leisure’ was made for a group exhibition entitled ‘Raoul Reynolds – A Retrospective’ which was shown at Scotland Street School Museum as part of the Glasgow International programme.

A tall, four-panel screen made of ebonized oak and pigments on linen. Embracing the exhibitions theme ‘Raoul Reynolds’ as an alter-ego of an artist supposedly born in Glasgow in 1882, the work engages a variety materials and techniques associated with the Glasgow style and the Vienna Secession movements.

As a collaborative artwork Helen de Main and James McLardy wanted the screen to reflect the significance of Glasgow School of Art on Reynold’s early artistic production, but also comment on attitudes towards gender politics in the early 1900’s.

Developed from a process of studio-led experimentation and discussion the artists conceived an invented narrative; that the screen was produced by the young Reynolds shortly after the death of his mother and his graduation from Glasgow School of Art.

Suggesting that Raoul Reynold’s had appropriated his mother’s unfinished stenciled patterns to create this artwork McLardy and de Main further proposed that:

Raoul Reynolds wanted to celebrate the intensely inventive, widely travelled but little known creative presence of his mother and her impact on his life as an artist. As a student at GSA in the 1890’s Reynold’s mother could not graduate from the Art School with a full honors degree. The reason for this was that woman were not permitted to attend life drawing classes. It is thought that Reynolds intended the screen to act as permanent symbol of this injustice by gifting it to GSA for the female life models to undress behind.

Carved into the back of the screen reads a motto ‘WITHOUT REAL WORK THERE IS NO REAL LEISURE’. Who decides what is real work or valued leisure in society anyway?

Raoul Reynolds publicly presented the screen to the painting department at Glasgow School of Art on the 27th of October, 1903 with a group of his peers. Needless to stay it was not accepted, but perhaps Raoul had purposely enacted this rejection as means of stimulating debate around the gender divide at the time.


‘Without Real Work There is No Real Leisure’ was shown at Scotland Street School Museum as part of the 2016 Glasgow International programme. ‘Raoul Reynolds’