The Great Divide
© Ron O'Donnell

Reference URL

The Great Divide Dated 1987
  • Scottish Art
This work, commissioned by the Scottish National Modern One, was hung in ‘The Vigorous Imagination’ in 1987, a landmark exhibition examining the state of Scottish art during the 1980s. O’Donnell’s exuberant installation sought to explore growing class divisions during the Thatcher years, expressed particularly in the North-South divide. At a time when easel painting was reasserting itself in Scotland, his bold use of mixed media seemed particularly radical. In an attempt to break with documentary conventions that had dominated the twentieth century, O’Donnell’s practice suggested that constructed imagery provided the best possibility of self-criticism and renewal.

Glossary Open


When an individual or organisation employs an artist to execute a particular project, the process and the resulting work are termed a ‘commission’.

Documentary photography

Photographs that are presented as a straightforward record of events, people and places.

Installation art

An art practice developed in the second half of the 20th century that broke away from the view of a sculpture as a singular object to be looked at. Instead, installation artists create an environment that may surround the viewer. Many are temporary or created for a particular location.

Commission, Documentary photography, Installation art


  • Acc. No. GMA 3046 A
  • Medium Colour photograph
  • Size 183.00 x 305.00 cm
  • Credit Commissioned by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art 1987