Kelman and the City is the collective name given to six events held in Glasgow, Edinburgh, London and Glasgow, and a series of related publications. The project investigated the confluence of politics and art in the work of James Kelman, and ran from October 2011 to April 2012.

This project was supported by Creative Scotland and involved partnerships between The Drouth and Glasgow University, Glasgow School of Art, The University of Salford, Sonic Fusion Music Festival, Word Power Books, The Edinburgh Independent Radical Bookfair, IGRS Conference and the Document 9 Documentary Film Festival.



The Dept. of Scottish Literature at Glasgow University, the Glasgow School of Art, Word Power Books and The Drouth commenced the Kelman and the City project with  the launch of THE RED COCKATOO: JAMES KELMAN AND THE ART OF COMMITMENT by Mitch Miller and Johnny Rodger with a series of free events in Glasgow and Edinburgh.











Day One
Friday 7th October Glasgow Print Studio (Trongate 103)

 A simultaneous launch the 40th/10th anniversary edition of the Drouth and our book The Red Cockatoo: James Kelman and the Art of Commitment. We celebrated our 10th anniversary and with an opening night party for our Saturday Conference Kelman and the City (1-6pm at the Hunterian Art Gallery). The entertainments included a new composition based on Kelman's short stories by Steve Davismoon and performed by Gordon Munro, and unseen documentary film of Kelman, Noam Chomsky, Douglas Gordon, Tom Leonard and other writers, artists and activists from 1990.

Day Two
Saturday 8th October Hunterian Gallery, Kelman in the City Conference 1-6pm

At the invitation of Glasgow University, top speakers/academics  came together to celebrate the publication of The Red Cockatoo and deliver papers/talks on Kelman’s engagement in the world of art and politics, activism, civics and anti-racism in Glasgow and beyond. 

Dr. Scott Hames ,  (Edinburgh companion to James Kelman  (EUP) & forthcoming monograph on Kelman

Dr. Simon Kovesi  (monograph on the novels of James Kelman, published by MUP)

Johnny Rodger  & Mitch Miller (Red Cockatoo) on the urban Kelman & Kelman by dialectogram –drawing

Peter Kravitz, publisher of Kelman, at Polygon and Edinburgh Review, colleague of Kelman

Dr. Sarah Lowndes (Social Sculpture, pub by Luath, a history of art  & political movements in Glasgow 1980’s – present day)

We also showed excerpts of some of the previously unseen film footage of the Govan 1990 conference ‘Self Determination and Power’ with Kelman, Chomsky et al ,prepared by Malcolm Dickson , director of Streetlevel Gallery, colleague and collaborator with Kelman.

Download the Kelman and the City flyer to share with your contacts.

If you are interested in finding out more about the event, then contact us.

Day Three

Saturday 29 October 15th Edinburgh Independent Radical Bookfair, The Old Drill, Edinburgh

The Red Cockatoo:James Kelman and the Art of Commitment

Using dialectograms and rarely seen footage, Mitch Miller and Johnny Rodger sparked a lively debate at the Bookfair on how understanding Kelman's political activitis can unlock a greater understanding of radical political networks and the history of the alternative, libertarian left in Scotland.



We collaborated with the Documentary 9 Film Festival to hold a special event at Glasgow School of Art, to look at the wider context of art and activism in Glasgow during the 80s and 90s.

Day Four

Thursday 14 November2011, The Mackintosh Lecture Theatre, Glasgow School of Art/Document 9 Documentary Film Festival

Art Movements in the City

This special collaboration with the Document 9 festival and Glasgow School of Art expanded the debate started in the Kelman events of October to include radical contemporary art movements of the 80s and 90s that preceded the so-called 'Glasgow Miracle'. The capacity event involved Mitch Miller and Johnny Rodger, with Ray MacKenzie speaking on radical public art, and Sarah Lowndes on the radical legacy of female artists in Glasgow. 


MARCH 2012

Continuing the project's engagement with various academic and aesthetic disciplines, we brought a paper based on the work of the Kelman in the city project to the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies International Conference on Peripheral Modernisms.

Day Five

Saturday 24 March 2012, IGRS Peripheral Modernisms Conference, The University of London, London

Manouevring in the Face of the Enemy: James Kelman in the City





Johnny Rodger and Mitch Miller gave a special presentation of their conference paper drawing comparisons between the theories of Michel de Certeau and Kelman's tactically-inclined political and artistic practices. This paper has since been developed into an article for the Scottish Literary Review and has elicited a critical response from Ken Neil, Head of the Forum for Critical Inquiry at Glasgow School of Art (see Related Publications below)


APRIL 2012

Stephen Davismoon and Gordon Munro rounded off the series of events with a reprise of their specially commissioned piece, Kelman Stories, at the Sonic Fusion Music Festival.

Day Six

Saturday 28 April 2012, The Sonic Fusion Music Festival, University of Salford.

Kelman Stories

A special performance at Salford University's Sonic Fusion Music Festival of Kelman Stories, a piece specially commissioned and funded by The Drouth. Composer (and Drouth editor) Steve Davismoon and actor Gordon Munro presented their multimedia piece based on a Kelman short story. You can see it here courtesy of our new YouTube channel.


Related Publications

We have produced a number of publications that have inspired, or have been integral to, the Kelman in the City project.

Simon Kovesi, 'James Kelman Margarined: Class, language and the avoidance of butter', The Drouth, Issue 18

James Kelman in Conversation with Noam Chomsky, 'The sense of helplessness is more of a choice than a reality, in my opinion.' The Drouth Issue 30

Simon Kovesi, 'James Kelman, the Public and Pubic Wigs: United Statesians in Uhmerkin America', The Drouth Issue 30

Mitch Miller and Johnny Rodger, The Red Cockatoo: James Kelman and the art of Commitment, Sandstone Press 2011. Buy it here.

Mitch Miller and Johnny Rodger, 'Kelman in Urban Space', The Drouth issue 40

Ken Neil, 'Politics Tactics Pragmatic Antics', The Drouth issue 42

Forthcoming - Mitch Miller and Johnny Rodger write on James Kelman and de Certeau in 'The Writer as Tactician: The Everyday Practice of James Kelman' in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Scottish Literary Review