Scotland in Europe | Curating Connections from 1939 to the Present

Dr Gráinne Rice, Adult Programme Coordinator, introduces the proceedings of a one-day online conference supported by Art Fund.

On 25 February 2022 with Professor Patricia Allmer (University of Edinburgh), I led a one-day online conference as part of an ongoing Art Fund-supported Curatorial Research Network Scotland in Europe – Curating Connections from 1939 to the Present. With this Curatorial Research Network we want to:

  • Explore creative practices from 1939 to the present which connect Scotland with other European cultures.
  • Better understand these connections, and their significances in relation to contemporary political and cultural context,
  • Develop curatorial responses, knowledge, and strategies to address these histories and their contemporary significances,
  • Productively contribute to and foster contemporary debates.

The original motivation to initiate this project emerged out of the current and extreme shifts in politics which have had significant impact on how we perceive and shape our social, cultural and artistic engagements and heritages, and ourselves and our own identities.

Being connected with, and being part of, Europe is a key component of Scottish art and culture, and we can trace these links and connections in the collections and archives of our regional, national, and international museums and galleries. Examples of this rich heritage of historical and contemporary cultural exchanges include the Scottish National Galleries’ Surrealism collections and archives, the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust, the histories and legacies of Glasgow’s 1990 European Year of Culture, the Scottish participation in European cultural initiatives such as Scotland + Venice art school travelling scholarships, Scottish artists working in a variety of capacities in Europe, and European emigré artists working in Scotland.

Following an open call for papers, we were truly delighted that the selected papers addressed a rich range of these relations, exchanges, and connection points. We are very grateful to our speakers for their enthusiasm for the project, and for their time and the research they shared with us.

‘In the Travail of War Reborn’: Edinburgh as a Nexus of European Cultural Exchanges during World War II

Dr Patricia Allerston (Deputy Director & Chief Curator, European & Scottish Art, National Galleries of Scotland)

Europe in Scotland: Josef Herman, Jankel Adler and the Émigré Contribution to Scottish Visual Arts (1940–43)

Sarah MacDougall (Director, Ben Uri Gallery, London)

Italo-Scottish Dialogues: Archival Journeys through the Demarco Archives

Dr Laura Leuzzi (Sapienza University of Rome/University of Dundee)

The Legacy of the Water: Urban and Literary Identities of Post-Industrial Europe

Federica Fiardino (PhD Researcher, Glasgow School of Art)

Scottish Reaction to German Expressionism

Judith Bell (Independent Scholar)

Channel Crossing: Artists’ Moving Image from Scotland and the European Network, 1986–1996

Marcus Jack (Curator and PhD Researcher, The Glasgow School of Art)

Erasmus, Scholarships, Bursaries and Exchanges for Scottish Visual Artists

Duncan Robertson, artist

Redefining European Symbolism and European Revivals: Two Parallel Research Networks

Professor Frances Fowle and Professor Richard Thomson (National Galleries of Scotland/University of Edinburgh)



Supported by

  • Art Fund
By Dr Gráinne Rice, Adult Programme Coordinator, 4 January 2023