‘SCOTLAND’S great creator”, a literary “giant” and a “unique talent” – musicians, writers, politicians and cultural commentators were united in their praise for Alasdair Gray yesterday.

A writer and artist, Gray’s work is found on the walls of galleries and the walls of the Scottish Parliament, in museums and in subway stations, in universities and in public libraries.

Yesterday his influence on the country’s consciousness was laid bare following his death at the age of 85.

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Gray’s passing at a Glasgow hospital was made public by his publisher Canongate, which released the following statement from his relatives: “Early this morning we lost a deeply loved member of our family.

“Alasdair was an extraordinary person; very talented and, even more importantly, very humane. He was unique and irreplaceable and we will miss him greatly.

“We would like to thank Alasdair’s many friends for their love and support, especially in recent years.

“Together with the staff of the Queen Elizabeth hospital, Glasgow, who treated him and us with such care and sensitivity during his short illness.

“In keeping with his principles Alasdair wanted his body donated to medical science, so there will be no funeral.”

The statement prompted tributes from the country.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called him “one of Scotland’s literary giants, and a decent, principled human being”, adding: “He’ll be remembered best for the masterpiece that is Lanark, but everything he wrote reflected his brilliance. Today, we mourn the loss of a genius, and think of his family.”

Crime writer Ian Rankin, who had wished Gray a happy birthday just a day earlier, said his death was “hellish, hellish news” and praised the “masterpiece” mural he left behind inside Glasgow’s Oran Mor venue.

The Scottish Parliament’s corporate body said it was “saddened” by Gray’s death, while Education Minister John Swinney said the inclusion of his words in the boundary wall of that institution was “an appropriate tribute to the imagination Alasdair Gray encouraged us to experience”.

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Scots Makar Jackie Kay recalled a “life-changing” meeting with Gray when she was just 16, while author and playwright Louise Welsh called him a “man of talent, a kind person and a true original”.

Glasgow University principal Anton Muscatelli said Gray was “a giant of Scottish literature and a versatile artist who contributed to so many aspects of contemporary Scottish culture” and Belle and Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch bid farewell to “Scotland’s great creator”, adding: “We’ll miss you for your art, we’ll miss you for your stories, we’ll miss you for your humanity.”

Irvine Welsh praised Gray as a “unique talent” and Franz Ferdinand singer Alex Kapranos said he could not “truly communicate how huge an inspiration he was”.

Many fans took to social media to share their stories of the peace campaigner and independence supporter, recalling how he’d signed their books or shown them kindness.

Others posted their favourite Gray quotes or pictures of his artworks, such as that at Hillhead subway station in Glasgow, the city that starred in his seminal work, Lanark.

Still Game star Gavin Mitchell mourned the loss of “a true Scottish iconoclast and renaissance man” and bestselling author Val McDermid paid tribute to Gray’s output and influence on her.

She said: “He transformed our expectations of what Scottish literature could be. Reading Lanark and 1982 Janine were transformative events for me as a reader.”

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The Saltire Society, which recently gave Gray its inaugural lifetime achievement award, said: “To say Alasdair was a one of a kind only scratches the surface of this remarkable man. Immensely important to Scotland and internationally, Alasdair, his work and influence have never been confined by genre and can be seen in a myriad of art forms.

“His inspiration has reached generations and will continue to do so for many years to come.

“Scotland has lost a true master of creativity.”