Rough Cut Nation evolved from a vague idea of drawing on the bare inner walls of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery after its closure for refurbishment, to a full-scale take-over of Room One and the Great Hall by artists and musicians, creating a unique installation made open to the public throughout August 2009.


Devised by the National Galleries of Scotland Outreach Team, Rough Cut Nation updates William Hole's historical murals to create a collaborative, multi-media installation that depicts Scottish history and identity through the eyes of contemporary artists.

Instead of merely recreating Hole's murals by inserting contemporary characters, figures and events, we decided to transform the way national life is depicted.

Street Ethos
Graffiti and street art focus on collaborations, with artists forming crews and allegiances, painting together on the streets and at open-air events or 'paint jams'.

At these events several artists work on an area of wall to create 'pieces' that combine, compete with and complement each other. This requires a high degree of communication and trust between the artists in order for it to be successful.

Rough Cut Nation put its faith in this collective approach. With contributions from a wallpaper designer, projected work from digital artists, spray painted portraits of real people and fading memories, ancient script and surreal centaurs pasted across derelict landscapes, rich splashes of colour merging with heavy religious overtones, the installation was unlike anything seen before in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.