As the Scottish National Gallery undergoes an ambitious transformation to create new gallery space dedicated to Scottish art, there are many people working hard behind the scenes to manage the construction project while the gallery remains open.
Find out about their role in ‘Celebrating Scotland’s Art’: The Scottish National Gallery Project, what their favourite artwork is, and what they are most looking forward to when the new gallery spaces open.
Tricia Allerston, Co-Director of the project
What’s your favourite work in the collection?
I’ve chosen Alexander Nasmyth’s Princes Street with The Commencement of the Building of the Royal Institution because it’s a painting that shows the artist’s great love for his native city and of the people in the city. It’s just a fantastic painting – the more you look at this picture the more you see, and I just love the feeling of great connection with the city that you get from it. And I also love the fact that it shows Edinburgh as a dynamic city, a city that’s really developing and, moving forward, and that’s something a modern city had to be then – and now.
It’s particularly interesting to see Princes Street then with all the lively, bustling shops depicted. It’s poignant in that it prompts us to think about city centres and shops now, and to get an idea of how much they have changed over time. You don’t need to be from Edinburgh to be attracted to this picture – in fact it draws international visitors like a magnet. It has something for everyone.
What’s your role in the project?
As Co-Director of the Scottish National Gallery Project I have the really lovely job of overseeing the redevelopment of the gallery and helping to plan the new suite of galleries and layout of their contents. My job involves thinking about how we display the world’s largest collection of Scottish art, and working with colleagues to draw out the many themes and topics that will help to organise the collection within the new gallery space.
What are you most looking forward to when the galleries open?
I’m really looking forward to seeing some works of art that we’ve had to put away during the work on the project, such as James Paterson’s Autumn in Glencairn, but also works that haven’t been on show here for a long time, such as William McTaggart’s The Sailing of the Emigrant Ship, and some fantastic works that we haven’t had the opportunity to see since the 1970s or so, such as a large, late work by David Wilkie. So it’s a really great chance to see old friends in a brand-new environment, and we’re putting in a lot of thought about how we present them, so that visitors can rediscover these works even if they are very familiar with them.