Find out the latest guidance and information about the impact of COVID-19 on the University.


Gail McMillan - Painting

Gail McMillan
After retiring from the NHS, Gail McMillan decided to fulfil her lifelong ambition to go to art school.

Now, the talented painting student at Gray’s School of Art will display her work at the Gray’s Virtual Degree Show.

The 59-year-old, who lives in Angus, almost went to art school initially in 1978 however she decided to stay at home and work in the local boatyard.

“I always wanted to go to art school really, it was a lifelong ambition,” she said.

“I was born in Campbeltown, Kintyre peninsula in Argyll but I left there after a Boatbuilding apprenticeship and I worked in the oil industry for five years before becoming a Psychiatric Nurse. The painting course at Gray’s had a great name, I had also done a printing course and then a Portfolio course at Gray’s, and on retirement from the NHS it seemed the obvious thing to do.”

Gail has always had an interest in structure coming from a construction background, and after some time exploring various compositions, techniques and styles she began focussing her work on oil construction history. This led to her gaining a commission with Rockrose Energy to document decommissioning and reassess the stereotypical image of the industry.

Gail said: “The four years at Gray’s School of Art have been without a doubt one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It felt like such a privilege to be chosen for the course and the passion and dedication of tutors is second to none and the small class of painters we had really punched above its weight. Various awards, scholarships and commissions were awarded to class members which was a very dynamic bunch of mainly young painters.”

Speaking about the impact the Covid-19 pandemic had upon her final year, Gail said: “The Covid-19 crisis meant us being wrenched from our studios just weeks from final hand in which was traumatic but we are a resilient bunch and we adapted and we overcame.

“The online needs were frankly overwhelming for me as my IT skills are limited but I had great back up and support.

“I’m very excited to see what everyone has been working on, the Virtual Degree Show will show us all of our work for the first time as usually we wander around studios chatting and seeing everyone’s work and we couldn't do that this year obviously.”

She said she treated her course like she did her career, giving 100 percent always.

“I treated it like a job and I was very glad of the structure after retiring from an extremely intense career in Psychiatry,” she continued.

“There were so many highlights during my time at Gray’s, being in a class of talented artists is one and having the ‘Gray’s experience’ as the art school is small like a large extended family and I’ve made lifelong friends.

“The tutors are experienced, hands on painters and lovely human beings – everyone from the canteen, workshops, admin and reception staff are helpful and professional. I am going to miss Gray’s a lot.”

Gail plans to continue painting and would like to pursue academic interests in the future.

Cookie Consent