Saturday, 27 June 2009


Here's a well trodden cobbled path....the view up Hawkhill from Westport.
I can recall on more than one occasion, me and my mates "galloping" up & down here from pub to pub, in the style of Monty Pythons human horses in the Holy Grail film..!! The silly sods that we were!!!
Keeping the Python humour going, a year or so later when one of our mob got married, a couple of us wore a "lupin" in our jacket lapel at the wedding!!
In fact, we actually had the smoker in the back room of the Tav.
Talking of the Tav, some of you may remember the excellent sketches of Dundee done by local artist, Stephen French. Well when these buildings on the right of the photo (MC Bar to The Globe) were restored in the 80's, he opened up a studio/shop in Johnston's Lane - next to the corner shop in the picture.
He sold sketches, quirky sculptures, and a range of other modern artefacts. I can remember even the blinds on the shop window were very arty, having a holographic design etched into them. Cutting edge interior design indeed.!!
I also have a hazy memory from back then that French had a stint as designer for "Memphis" of Milan. Memphis were a radical, avant garde design team who made outrageous interior décor, causing a bit of a sensation in the 80's, most of which are now only seen in art galleries and museums.
However, I can't find any info about the French/Memphis link anywhere, that is just one of those wee facts stored away in my mind that I assume must have got there by reading a piece about him in a magazine way back in the 80's.
All that superb stuff he done, and yet no details on any of it.
About time there was a book about him and his work.
Until then, this sketch above is one I have in my own collection at home. You may be able to make out that he personally signed it in 1977.
It is also one that used to be on display in the Tav.
The actual content of the sketch is pretty much the same location as the photo, but from the other end.


  1. I'm pretty sure that Stephen French is still living and working here in Dundee. He did some excellent quirky little paintings of Dundee pubs such as the (real) Westie (which was, in a previous life, DaVinci's), Mennie's, The Phoenix etc. These are still available as small prints in the Westend Gallery along the Perth Road.

  2. There was many a night in Tally's, Mickeys and The Globe in the late 80's, wi pals, Dave, Doug, Alan and Webbo!

  3. the guy is steve french,i played darts with him for the nethergate bar in 1976,he made us trendy leather darts pouches,talented guy.

  4. Find Steve French in Mennie's most weekends along with the remnants of the 70's Art College crew.

  5. The Captain posting her btw....

    Definately was Stephen French. He was a good friend and my downstairs neighbour when I lived on the top floor flat at Wilkies Lane at that time - which was the old tenement flats located directly above The Tavern, with the legendary Willie Frew's pub at the far corner of the block. Many's the night - darts and 80 shilling...... anyway, Stephen lived there for a time with his girlfriend - artist Lynn Nealon (spelling?) - below Stuart Sutherland - another great fun guy and erstwhile local photographer - aka 'Big Fuckin Stuarty'......

    At that time Stephen had gotten into 3D art stuff - lenticular screens - the kind of 'moving images' you might have seen on kiddies' school rulers or maybe badges you got free in Sugar Puffs packets back then... the Nimslo 3D camera factory was in production in Dundee at that time - at or near the old Timex factory I think perhaps?

    Stephen wanted to do some more 'arty' type things than just picures of Jap girls that winked at you --- and with some success too......... first ones I saw were crude-ish reconstructed cut up abtract pictures made from such 'novelty' items - but later Stephen went on to create his own 3D artworks.... and then moved on to working with hologram art etc

    1. Big Stuartie Sutherland shared a flat with myself and others at Panmure Street......what a riot! Others in the flat were Kenny Davidson, Chick McGeehan, Bob Pennel, Bill Reid etc

  6. The shop in Johnsto's Lane is now a really cool place called Spex Pistols. it's a kind of boutique opticians, which is full of vintage specs in cabinets your granny had her china in.

    There's also loads of Action Men,6 Million Dollar Man, Fonzy,Starsky and Hutch etc action figures, and a Dansette record player in it too.

    The specs are all vintage or retro too, but the best thing I saw in there was a poster saying 'free moustache with every purchase over £500 - with paper moustaches ready to be cut out!

    The guy that owns it, (Cookie) I can remember being a Chevy's regular with a big Smiths Quiff and NHS glasses.

  7. Bill Witherell10 June 2013 at 07:02

    I have one of French's hanging on my study wall still