Across the Pond from Paisley; celebrating the life and achievements of Alexander Wilson.
A new exhibition, entitled Alexander Wilson – Paisley’s Poet, America’s Ornithologist, opens at Paisley Museum on Friday 14 June. The exhibition will run until Sunday 1 September and admission is free.
One of Paisley’s most famous sons, Alexander Wilson was a weaver and a poet, but is best known for his illustrations of North American birds. This exhibition commemorates the bicentenary of Alexander Wilson’s death, looking at his life both in Scotland and America and highlighting his outstanding contribution to the science of ornithology.
Born in 1766, Wilson first found employment as a cow-herder before being apprenticed at the age of 13 as a weaver. It was during this time that he first turned his hand to poetry, a pastime which was almost a tradition amongst Paisley weavers. Some of his work however, was deemed to be libelous by the authorities of that time, and in 1794, after a couple of brushes with the law, Wilson made the decision to immigrate to America.
His interest in nature, in particular bird life, was further enhanced by his exposure to the wilds of the American countryside, vast areas of which were still unexplored at that time.
His first epic journey took him to Niagara, where he travelled all 1200 miles on foot, and provided the catalyst for what would become his life work – to describe and record all the birds of North America.
His publication ‘American Ornithology’ ran to nine volumes and illustrated all North American birds for the first time. This led Wilson to become known as the ‘Father of American Ornithology’.
This exhibition will celebrate the life and times of one of Paisley’s most famous sons, and the legacy he left to the science of ornithology.