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Alasdair Morgan (Scottish National Party)
The final item of business is a members' business debate on motion S3M-6732, in the name of Linda Fabiani, on Richard Demarco, 80 years young. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.
That the Parliament notes and celebrates the 80th birthday of Richard Demarco, one of Scotland's leading figures in art promotion and an advocate for contemporary art for decades; further notes that he has promoted cross-cultural links, taking Scottish artists abroad and bringing other European artists here, making a particular contribution to the understanding of Eastern European art between 1968 and 1989 with his journeys behind the Iron Curtain, that he was a co-founder of the Traverse Theatre in 1963 before going on to found his own gallery and the Demarco European Art Foundation, that he has been involved with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in one way or another since its inception and that he has made a contribution to the academic understanding of Scottish and European culture through his lecture work, including his professorship at Kingston University in London; also notes that his drawings, paintings and prints are held in more than 1,200 collections and that his 80th birthday will be marked by a major exhibition in the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) from 28 November 2010 to 17 January 2011, highlighting Mr Demarco's collaboration with other artists and featuring works from Magdalena Abakanowicz, Marina Abramovicz, David Mach, Alistair Maclennan, Gunther Uecker, Ainslie Yule, Joseph Beuys, Tadeusz Kantor, Mario Merz and Paul Neagu; further notes that this honour afforded by the RSA comes on top of other honours bestowed on Richard Demarco, including the Polish Gold Order of Merit, the Cavaliere della Republica d'Italia, the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres de France and a CBE; congratulates him on his achievements to date; looks forward to more to come, and wishes him many happy returns on his 80th birthday.
Linda Fabiani (Scottish National Party)
I thank all members in the chamber this evening who signed the motion, which celebrates the fact that Richard Demarco became 80 years young in July. The number of signatures is a mark of the respect that members of the Scottish Parliament have for Richard Demarco and his work. I proffer apologies from Patricia Ferguson, who was upset when she found out that it would be impossible for her to be here for the debate.
I found it difficult to write the motion. How does one condense achievements such as Richard Demarco's into a paragraph? Similarly, how can I do justice to Richard Demarco and his career in just a few minutes in this debate? I am sure that all members feel the same as I do.
One could list just a few milestones in Richard Demarco's career. He launched the Traverse theatre and gallery in 1963, and he opened the Richard Demarco gallery in 1966. One can mention his long tenure as director of contemporary visual arts exhibitions for the Edinburgh international festival, his directorship of Sean Connery's Scottish International Education Trust, and the establishment of the Demarco European Art Foundation and the incredible Demarco archives.
During his long career, which continues, Richard Demarco has been at the forefront of Scotland in Europe. He has promoted cross-cultural links, taking Scottish art abroad and bringing other European artists here. He has not done so in a timid or safe manner. This is a man who has always taken what others would perceive to be risks—he would perceive his actions to be the right and necessary things to do. His contribution to the understanding of European art between 1968 and 1989, through his journeys behind the iron curtain and his related lecture work, is immense. His drawings, paintings and prints are held in more than 1,200 collections.
One could also list the honours that have been bestowed on Richard Demarco, aside from his honorary fellowships: chevalier de l'ordre des arts et des lettres de France, commander of the British Empire, Polish gold order of merit and the freedom of Łódź, and professor emeritus of European cultural studies at Kingston University. Of course, I am particularly pleased that he is a fellow cavaliere della Repubblica Italiana.
Richard Demarco is a Scot, a Scots-Italian, a European and an internationalist whose worth is recognised the world over. His current work with the foundation and archive has been recognised by the University of Zürich and Washington State University, as well as by educational institutions from Blackhall primary school in Edinburgh to the Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in Kent.
That brings me neatly to the educational resource that is the archive, most of which is currently housed in Craigcrook castle in Edinburgh. The castle might be said to be an ideal location. It has had a great history, not least during the 19th century, when it was used for literary soirées attended by Scott, Dickens, Eliot and Hans Christian Andersen. It was the home of Francis Jeffrey, editor of the Edinburgh Review.
I used the word "currently", because Craigcrook is just one of the locations that has been used for the archive over the years. I am in awe of the tenacity and dedication of Richard Demarco and his team in keeping this national resource together. The archive has not benefited from local or national funding but has been maintained by
What a gift to the Scottish nation. What an opportunity for a national institution to cherish and maintain. It is sad that if we are to keep the archive housed it might be necessary to sell some of its assets—unless something is done. I am glad that the Minister for Culture and External Affairs acknowledged the archive's importance and worth when she visited Craigcrook recently, by assigning officers to look into the funding of archivists. I am sure that she recognises the importance of keeping the Demarco archive in Scotland and I look forward to hearing her response to the debate. Richard Demarco might be only 80 years young, but he should be able to devote himself to promoting and enjoying the archive, rather than having to spend so much time raising money to maintain it.
When Richard Demarco is honoured later this year by the opening of the Royal Scottish Academy exhibition that will mark his 80th birthday, the collection at Craigcrook will be complementary to the exhibition at the national gallery. I hope that some security for the archive can be achieved now that it has received long-overdue recognition.
I urge everyone here and beyond to attend the RSA exhibition, which opens at the end of November and runs through to January. I also urge everyone to visit Craigcrook castle and the imminent exhibition of artists associated with the history of the Traverse gallery, the Demarco gallery and the Demarco European Art Foundation from the 1960s to 2010. I had to take a deep breath to say that long title, which reflects Richard Demarco's long career.
It was difficult to begin this speech, and it is difficult to end it. I have already made it clear how highly I regard Richard Demarco in a professional sense, but my motivation for requesting this debate to honour his birthday was personal as much as professional. He is quite simply one of the most inspiring and delightful human beings I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and spending time with. My respect for him is immense. He has travelled many roads. May he travel many more in his search for Meikle Seggie.
Ted Brocklebank (Conservative)
I congratulate Linda Fabiani on securing this timely debate.
It is hard to believe that Ricky Demarco is 80. People such as him do not grow old like the rest of us. I see him as a kind of life force—a diminutive Don Quixote who constantly tilts at the windmills of the Edinburgh arts establishment and a man who is in many ways lost between the two shores of Scotland and Italy, but is immensely proud of his links with both places.
I seem to have known Demarco all my working life, although I guess that we have met on only two or three occasions. I once interviewed him for a film about Scots-Italians. One of his answers ran for more than 20 minutes. As the film had only a half-hour slot, members can imagine the problems that I had in cutting him down to size.
The truth is that Ricky Demarco cannot be cut down to size. I liked what he said recently about the Scottish Arts Council's decision decades ago to cut his funding because he had, it claimed, "dishonoured art". The unrepentant Demarco quipped:
"Who'd have guessed that I'd still be around when the Arts Council itself is no more".
Linda Fabiani and others have listed Ricky Demarco's many achievements, such as his role as a co-founder of Edinburgh's Traverse theatre, his seminal role in developing the festival fringe, his tireless promotion of the arts in Scotland, and particularly his efforts to present those arts in an international context. However, as a long-time journalist and broadcaster, what I have always liked about him—apart from his joy in deflating the unco guid—is his ability to grab a headline. Many of the 60 Edinburgh festivals that he has attended over the years would have been dull affairs indeed without his special publicity skills. His publicity has, of course, always included a hefty amount of self-promotion. It has to be said that he has never suffered from any sense of false modesty.
Ricky Demarco is descended from that remarkable group of Scots-Italians whose forebears came from the Tuscan village of Barga. Indeed, he is the doyen of that remarkable line, which includes such talented Scots-Italians as Nicola Benedetti, Mario Conti, Tom Conti, Peter Capaldi, Daniela Nardini, Jack Vettriano and the pop star Paolo Nutini. Think about it: a place no bigger than Dingwall has produced arguably Scotland's most gifted young musician, one of our foremost churchmen, three of our best actors, the nation's best-selling artist, our current top pop star and, of course, the country's most versatile arts impresario, Ricky Demarco.
We owe a huge debt to our immigrant communities. In paying tribute to Ricky Demarco, I make no apology for linking his contribution to that of the wider Scots-Italian community, including, of course, that of Linda Fabiani, who is an exemplar
These days, the Italian contribution to Scotland is too often caricatured as being ice cream and fish and chips, and we in Scotland have not always been the best of hosts. Italian cafes and restaurants were ransacked in several Scottish communities when Italy came into the second world war on the side of Nazi Germany, despite the fact that many of those who were attacked and eventually interned had been born in Scotland.
It is true to say that one of Demarco's inspirations was the Leith-born artist and sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi, whose father, uncle and grandfather all drowned when the steamer Arandora Star, carrying Scots-Italian internees to Canada, was torpedoed by a German U-boat. Happily, in the years after the war, the Italians persevered and prospered all over Scotland. From cafes in places such as Portobello, Paisley, Kirkcaldy and Kilmarnock, Demarcos, Nutinis, Di Rollos, Zavaronis, Beltramis and Macaris have risen to the top of their respective professions.
I wish Ricky Demarco many more years of puncturing pomposity and opening our minds to his encyclopaedic knowledge of European art and architecture. As a native of St Andrews, I remain convinced that Demarco had the most imaginative proposal for Scotland to celebrate the millennium—to replace the roof of the ruined St Andrews cathedral. It was ransacked during the reformation, but in its day it was God's greatest house in Scotland. When some thought that erecting an up-market tent called Our Dynamic Earth was a suitable way of commemorating the millennium, Demarco wanted to restore the biggest religious building north of York. With that kind of vision, he should have been in this place, and knowing Ricky Demarco, even at 80, that is by no means impossible.
Christopher Harvie (Scottish National Party)
I, too, am grateful to Linda Fabiani for securing the debate. I express my warmest congratulations to Richard Demarco on his 80th birthday and to that remarkable community, the Italian Scots, which they both represent. Despite "Collar the lot," and its humiliation, and despite the Arandora Star, they have come through and carried us with them.
In the course of his career, Richard Demarco latched on to European culture of the highest, most challenging and deepest qualities. How did he do that from somewhere that was regarded as hidebound? Nevertheless—which for Muriel Spark was the essential Edinburgh word—Scotland and Edinburgh possessed their own magic. The Edinburgh festival was Demarco's decisive inspiration, especially the magical content of its first years. I remember seeing as a kid the stunning show on Diaghilev's Russian ballet in the art college and an early performance of Tyrone Guthrie's staging of David Lindsay's "The Three Estates", which was what Brecht was all about. That was the high European culture that Hitler had tried to crush. It brought the festival and it blessed Edinburgh with it.
Demarco knew that Edinburgh had to reciprocate from within for that annual gift, which was made out of our dour Calvinism, just as the 18th century enlightenment was. The festival was Edinburgh unbound—the Edinburgh of the lords of misrule and the abbots of unreason, as Tom Nairn has termed it. For a month every year, it became the world capital of culture.
Demarco found modernism in Yves Klein, the Dadaists, surreal movements and the bookshop small press revival. I remember Jim Haynes lurking behind the rhinoceros head of the Paperback Bookshop. Only a couple of weeks ago, I had lunch with John Calder, who is 86 and still no quieter and who was at the writers conference in the 1960s. The highest achievement reclaimed the soul of the religious spirit in people such as Joseph Beuys, Tadeusz Kantor and thousands of others across all fields, practices and disciplines, from Sean Connery—an art school model munching his way through the classics from Ibsen to Shakespeare—to the hard man Jimmy Boyle.
Demarco's life of the arts has been dedicated to bringing people together from a' the airts, as well as the arts and, most important, across the chasm of the cold war, which he crossed 90 times. He has bound together north and south Europe and his homelands of Scotland, Ireland and Italy. There was also that vital linkage with England. There, too, were wounds to be healed for Scotland to be truly itself and European.
The Demarco story has teetered on the verge of disaster and bounced back, with never a dull moment. Let us treat ourselves to the great collection at Craigcrook—and remember that it will not cost a fraction of a Celtic or Rangers 11. Those are the guys, we might remember, who only just managed to beat plucky little Liechtenstein, just as they managed to beat, I believe, San Marino. It would cost only an infinitesimal part of the Fred Goodwin bequest.
This is the man from Barga—the Ross County of art. We must remember that what he presents is not about size, but about the soul, the mind, journeys and meetings; it is about tragedy alongside comedy, neither separated nor alone. It is far from mere entertainment, sport, tourism or leisure, but it is never remote because it reawakens the sense of another Scots Italian, John Ruskin, and that great phrase,
"There is no wealth but life."
Mr Frank McAveety (Labour)
Due to my usual reticence and quietude I had not noticed that this debate was on the agenda for today, but the brief encounters that I had with Richard Demarco in my brief period as a culture minister indicated what members have already expressed—not just the depth of affection for Richard but a sense of the contribution that he has made and will continue to make not just to the Scottish cultural scene but to the European cultural scene. I will touch on that in a moment. I am not too sure whether an Italian likes to be compared to Don Quixote, but we can have a wee discussion about that. When I saw that this was Linda Fabiani's debate on Richard Demarco, I thought that it was a Bertolucci movie with some name changes.
In my experience, there are two issues, and I am sure that the minister concurs. One is that perennial in the Scottish cultural scene: not "What do we do with our high arts?"—opera and ballet—but "What do we do with the Richard Demarco collection?" That is something that everyone who has sat in the minister's position has had to address.
What I found in the discussions that I have had with Richard and also the roles that many of us have played with him both informally and formally was his absolute passion for ideas. The compelling drive that he brought and still brings to the arts is the willingness to generate new ideas—not conventional ideas, not ideas that are easily accessible, and not ideas that people would see as orthodoxy. In fact, in a curiously perverse way, he challenges all of those with some of the productions. Any of us who have been persuaded by him to go to some of the productions know that there are some fantastic productions—but there are some others about which you politely say, "Thanks for the recommendation, Richard, but I'll maybe not make any comment on what I thought of that." Again, that is part of the drive and the enthusiasm that he has brought to his activities on the fringe.
The fact that Richard is being recognised in this evening's debate in the Parliament is an important
Ted Brocklebank mentioned the community that Richard came from, the links that Barga has had with Scotland and the contributions that have been made by individuals who have come to Scotland from Barga. They have made an incredibly disproportionate contribution to the cultural experience of our country.
Perhaps people have heard this before, but at the time when I had what one would call an occasionally turbulent period as culture minister, I was once described in Scotland on Sunday as a philistine. I remember saying to the audience at an arts event a few days afterwards, "I've been described as a philistine. I've looked that up in the dictionary and I can't see it under F anywhere." [Interruption.] I think that Richard understood the gag. In fact, the gag is so good that he has laughed twice for me—I appreciate and respect that.
What Richard brings is the experience of individuals who have come from different parts of Europe, the recognition that people in post-war Europe need to understand one another much more effectively, and the idea that one of the key unifying factors is art and culture, however it is expressed, whether it is through performance art, visual art or the whole variety of arts that he has pioneered. It is the idea that everybody has a contribution to make. Sometimes an idea that, in its time, might not seem wonderful ends up being an important piece of the contribution to the cultural fabric that makes Scotland such a player in the international arts field.
I know that Richard is celebrating his birthday. No doubt this is a quiet celebration compared with what his family and others have in mind for him, but I hope that the contribution that we can make is, in a sense, to put the pressure on and identify the ways in which we can ensure that the collection that he has put together is something that future generations of Scots and Europeans can properly appreciate. [Interruption.]
Jamie Stone (Liberal Democrat)
I congratulate my good friend Linda Fabiani on securing the debate. Like Frank
My speech will necessarily be brief, because it is being made on the spur of the moment. I will give two reasons why it is really special that Ricky Demarco is with us today.
Nobody in the chamber knows that, through an accident of artistic mistake, I was the poetry convener of the 1976 St Andrews arts festival. The event was dowdy—it involved tweedy people from the county of Fife and young students doing orthodox arty things. On to that scene burst Ricky Demarco, who brought us the most amazing exhibits, one of which I have never forgotten. He had a young woman come into a hall and sit in a sort of mobile sandpit—I remember it well. She lay down, tied herself up "Gulliver's Travels" style with wee bits of string, and then set the bits of string on fire, which I can assure members was an event in itself—we students were agog. She stepped out and left the print of her body and the wee bits of burned string in what became an exhibit. That was avant-garde and was totally challenging for all of us—students and people living in Fife. I have never forgotten that and nor has anyone else who was there—I guarantee it.
That event taught me something that is hugely important about Ricky Demarco—in art, we must dare and we must challenge. What I described has stayed with me since I was a young man, and I say the first of my two thank yous to him for that.
We fast-forward to a time when most of us here were MSPs and some of us—Linda Fabiani and I—were involved in building the Parliament building. A lot of flak was flying around. Looking round the chamber, I can say that everyone here was kindly disposed, for which I thank them, too. One or two individuals out there in the community in Edinburgh and elsewhere in Scotland had the courage to say, "Actually, this is a really good artistic statement—I am proud of it. I don't care what flak is flying about or what brickbats are landing—I'm going to stand up and say this is good and we should be proud of it." I have never forgotten and never will forget for the rest of my days that Ricky Demarco was one of those people and I am deeply grateful for that.
When Ricky Demarco came to look at the art here when this place was complete, some of us—Linda Fabiani, others and I—went up to a committee room on the top floor. It was the room that faces inwards—I can never remember which way round committee rooms 2 and 6 are. It was night-time. He took us over to the big window, which looks down to the top of the garden lobby and across to Queensberry house, and said,
My speech was short and off the cuff. I give Ricky Demarco my sincere thanks and wish him a very happy birthday.
Jamie McGrigor (Conservative)
I congratulate Linda Fabiani on securing this important debate. I, too, put on record my good wishes to Richard Demarco on his 80th birthday. My first encounter with Ricky was back in the 1970s, when he took foreign students round the ancient archaeological sites in my native Argyll and stayed at the renowned establishment of Lunga house at Ardfern, which was run by his great friend and fellow thespian, Colin Lindsay-MacDougall. I was immediately struck by the feeling that here was someone very notable who would make a difference, and I was not wrong.
Other members have, rightly, referred to Richard Demarco's wonderful encouragement of young people—people with talent who wish to become involved in the arts sector. I can vouch for that through experience. In 2008, my daughter Sarah McGrigor put on a play—it was called "Forgive Me Father"—at the Edinburgh fringe. I approached Richard, who was a tower of strength and encouragement as she put on her controversial work in the Demarco Roxy art house. He gave us the benefit of his deep knowledge and experience, which were invaluable.
In the past, Richard has spoken passionately of the importance of the Edinburgh international festival and fringe to the lives of countless young people at school and university who, in some cases, travel many thousands of miles to present their love of theatre. None of us can overstate the importance of the festival and fringe and Richard Demarco's contribution to them since their inception. The festival and fringe attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to the most dynamic and diverse arts festival on the globe. They bring millions into our economy. The fact that the festival and fringe continue to enjoy such a reputation and that they are still seen as innovative is thanks in no small part to the efforts of Richard Demarco.
I cannot overstate the importance of Richard's archive. It represents 60 years of non-stop collecting. It portrays Scotland in relation to 52 countries, including every country in Europe and the Commonwealth. He wanted to locate the archive at Craigcrook castle because, of course, that was the meeting place of Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Carlyle, Lord Henry Cockburn and, above all, Lord Francis Jeffrey, the publisher of the
The legacy of the enlightenment to Edinburgh and to publishing is enormous, and Richard has always wanted to bring back that status to the capital of Scotland. He has worked tirelessly for that. While others played golf and went on holidays, Richard acted as a sentinel for Scotland's arts; he manned the ramparts against the philistines. In a speech to Frank McAveety when he was the Labour Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, I called for Ricky's idea of a festival that would compare with the Venice biennale. I remember Frank McAveety having trouble with the word "philistine"—I think he had a pie in his mouth at the time. Richard's idea was for a biennial festival that linked Glasgow and Edinburgh. He saw that such a festival would draw international support and raise our cultural status, thereby attracting many more students to Scotland's educational establishments.
On a more serious note, how can Richard really celebrate his 80 years when the future of the archive is so uncertain? For that reason, I congratulate the Minister for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, on going to Craigcrook and taking her team with her. We now want to know what the result will be. Will she produce any concrete help and funding towards the running of Craigcrook? There is also Richard's real need for at least four archivists to sort out the collection before it goes to the RSA and the National Galleries of Scotland for the exhibition that opens on 26 November. The running costs of the archive are £15,000 a quarter to look after a collection that may be priceless and which Richard is virtually offering to Scotland as a gift.
Just as the church cannot be run on hail Marys, neither can an 80-year-old, unretired Richard continue to pay for everything himself. The archive is a work of genius. It will be appreciated long after all of us are gone. I say to the minister, let us give it a chance. That would be a good present to Ricky, Edinburgh and the people of Scotland.
Fiona Hyslop (Scottish National Party)
I am very grateful to my colleague Linda Fabiani for bringing the motion to the Parliament. When I wrote to Professor Demarco to congratulate him on reaching the age of 80, I remarked that it was a fitting time to reflect on his achievements as
"cultural advocate, ambassador and mentor at the heart of Scotland's art scene for so many years".
It follows that this special birthday is a most fitting subject for debate. Colleagues have roundly expressed their praise in contributions that have
I would not suggest that Richard Demarco is a comfortable subject, even having reached an age when people are supposed to slow down a bit. I fancy that no one has tried telling Richard that; such behaviour does not come naturally to him. Typically, he told the Evening News journalist who interviewed him recently at Craigcrook castle:
"I'm at the point in life which is most exciting".
Richard's attitude has always been one of looking forward to the next project. He has faced challenges in his life and not a few setbacks, but nothing has dulled his appetite for driving forward his passion for the arts. It has always been a generous passion. He is sometimes referred to as a promoter of the visual arts, an artist and an impresario. I happen to know that the description that he most welcomes is that of educator. When you enter into a conversation with him, pretty quickly it feels as if you are on the receiving end of a lecture—in the most positive sense of the word.
Richard has taught us a lot over the years. He has shown us challenging new art in his various galleries and in performance. For him, art is about humanity—the people who make it and the people who engage with it. Give Richard a room containing two or three people and he will suggest holding a symposium.
This afternoon, we have heard about so many achievements for which Scotland is the richer. I simply highlight the Traverse theatre; Scotland's introduction to the European avant-garde, possibly years earlier than would have been the case without Richard's intervention; his extensive engagement with the Edinburgh festivals; his championing of so many Scottish artists; his growing list of accolades; and his lovely watercolours, which are often the first to sell in any mixed exhibition.
Richard is a citizen of both Scotland and the world. The accolades to which have I referred were bestowed by Poland, France and Italy, accompanying a CBE and a professorship emeritus of European cultural studies from Kingston University in Surrey. His profound appreciation of his fellow men and women has shown itself over many years. A gifted talent spotter, Richard has nurtured the early careers of many young artists who are now distinguished names. The catalogue of those names is impressive. I am merely skimming the surface when I mention Pat Douthwaite, Alistair Park, Ian McKenzie Smith, Kate Whiteford, Will Maclean and Arthur Watson. Thanks to Richard's introductions and exhibitions, artists from Scotland also became known in countries such as Poland, Romania, Hungary and Italy. That dialogue
In Richard, we have a most influential advocate of contemporary art. He sees art in everything, and venues in the most unlikely places—from rubble-strewn cellars graced by the likes of Zofia Kalińska, to a former Edinburgh poorhouse, to Inchcolm Island. To him, nothing is inappropriate, as long as it stretches the mind to consider new possibilities. Richard sees natural associations between art, science and the environment, as did the major figure Joseph Beuys, an abiding influence whom no speech about Richard could omit to mention.
Richard has never sat still long enough to write his memoirs, but there is an excellent record of his life's work, and the world of art that accompanied it, in a substantial and significant archive that was lovingly created and is growing by the day—in fact, every time Richard presses the button on the camera that is his constant companion.
Earlier, I spoke of challenge. I know that the biggest challenge that is preoccupying Ricky is what will happen in the future to his collection and archive. Some of it is already part of the national collection, but anyone who has visited Craigcrook and seen the terrific artworks and memorabilia there—and all those piles of boxes—will appreciate that there is a great deal more.
I am conscious of the fact that there are several options and possible destinations. As Scottish culture minister, naturally I want that destination to be here in Scotland. Accordingly, I have enlisted the services of key culture bodies—the National Library of Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland, Creative Scotland and Edinburgh College of Art—to work with Richard and us to secure a future for the Demarco collection in this country. I also intend to contribute £15,000 of Government funding towards the archiving of the collection, so that it can be appreciated and understood by posterity as the valuable educational resource that it undoubtedly is.
I have also asked Scotland House, our office in Brussels, to mount an exhibition of items drawn from the collection to demonstrate the significant role that Richard Demarco has played in cementing international friendships and promoting Scotland overseas through the powerful medium of the arts. I am delighted to announce that I have invited Richard to work with us on the events surrounding that exhibition, to acknowledge the fruitful ambassadorial activity that he has undertaken independently for so long. We trust that that will continue—hopefully for many years to come—to celebrate and extend our links with our friends in Europe.
Not many debates in this chamber end with the words "happy birthday", but we are celebrating a unique individual and that requires a unique response. I believe that it was Henry David Thoreau who commented:
"None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm".
I hope that in this debate all of us recognise Richard Demarco's contribution. All of us are in awe of his unquenchable energy, enthusiasm and love of life. I invite members to join me in wishing him many happy returns. On behalf of the Parliament, I thank Richard for his long-standing commitment to the arts and to learning—his life's work, which has enriched this nation's cultural experience at home and promoted a creative and innovative image of Scotland to the wider world. Happy birthday, Ricky. [Applause.]
Meeting closed at 17:39.