A Glaswegian in New York City

lex-braes.JPG Lex Braes is a professional artist and exhibits his work in the US

 and Germany he's also an Associate Professor at Pratt Institute,

 school of architecture in NY


1) Why did you leave Scotland?

I was very curious and hungry for knowledge, particularly about the fine arts; the role painting could have as a visual language in a contemporary society. What and why I paint is a Q I still need to answer for myself.

I was adamant that I wouldn't go the London route, I saw that as part of a limitation for Scots, being caught in the heritage of an Empire culture that was no longer the only option. The Royal College would have been the expected next move for someone in my shoes but I headed to NY on a Max Beckmann scholarship instead, and it changed everything for me, funny to think that it was between Holland and NY for me at that moment and what my life would have been had I studied in Holland then.


2) Where did you grow up and at what age did you leave Scotland?

I grew up in Glasgow, I was 23 when I left Scotland.


3) What is your job/sector and how many countries have you lived in?

I'm in the visual arts field, I exhibit my work regularly in the US and Germany, I also teach perspective drawing in architecture school. I've lived and worked in Switzerland Germany Holland and I'll mention California as well as it's so culturally different from NY.


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4) Do you show pictures of the Loch Ness Monster to the locals?

Haha I wish! But I do mention as a must see, the 2005 Lassie movie with Peter O'Toole, where Nessie makes what looks like an unscripted cameo appearance, following a mid-movie vignette with Edward Fox which is absolutely priceless.


5) Which citizenship do you have and which languages do you speak?

Still only a UK citizen with residence in the US, I speak English and German.


6) Has living abroad changed the way you think about Scotland?

Indeed it has and for the better, I'm released from my provincial insecurities.


7) Are there any Scottish products you would like to be able to buy?

No, because I love to return and buy pies and potato scones and thick bannocks and oatcakes and eat a haddock fish supper. I wouldn't want everything available on demand whenever we want.


8) What about the independence referendum coming up? How will it affect you and Scotland’s international image?

This is huge! It would change so much, too much for me to even begin to touch on, but visually, just think of the Union Jack without the blue... I'm torn on my position, I'm against all kinds of Nationalism yet the idea that a model small "independent" nation could offer an alternative way to Anglo or Euro-centric legislation is extremely seductive to me.


9) Have you ever had problems or found that people treat you differently because you are Scottish?

I've found that people treat me with great kindness and generosity because I'm Scottish.


10) Do you have any plans for living in Scotland again and have you got a message for Scots back home?

I have no message for anyone. I'd definitely like to return and live happily again in Scotland if the right opportunity presented itself -- that I can say unequivocally!


Do you know a successful Scot who lives outside Scotland and who Scottish Times can profile? If so contact Ina Göldenitz on team@scottishtimes.com or call 00 44 (0) 344 7570




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commented 2012-07-31 13:33:10 +0100 · Flag
Finally, a Scot who would “absolutely” return to Scotland! Every other ex-pat seems stuck on the material that the US can offer. I also relate to your thinking on Scottish independence; seductive yet potentially…well, dangerous. As someone who was born & raised in NYC/NJ, I don’t feel it’s my place to offer opinions on the referendum BUT as the daughter of an ex-pat (Edinburgher) and being that I’ve spent several summers in my mum’s homeland, I am very proud and thankful for my Scottish- Ness (pun intended), and will watch the vote on the proverbial pins & needles. As an artist (did not got to Pratt, DID go to The School of Visual Arts), I was especially interested in your take on leaving Scotland. As a single mum who is interested in ex-patting TO Scotland, I eagerly read all these posts and yours is the only one I have left a comment for- and will now look up your work :)
published this page in Scots Abroad 2012-07-25 14:03:00 +0100