In this display, artists tell new stories using old materials. Taking an imaginative leap, they create innovative ways of looking at the world by working with overlooked objects with the potential to be recycled or repurposed.

These artists manipulate paper, cardboard, maps, and newspapers. Paul Neagu transforms humble matchboxes, Joseph Beuys reuses paint colour charts, Louise Nevelson collects wood and wire fragments, while Mark Boyle and Joan Hills rescue furniture, car exhausts, bed springs, and bicycle wheels from the streets of London. Junk and waste are transformed into new material experiences. This resourceful creative attitude is even more valuable in a time when living sustainably is becoming increasingly vital.  

The actions of cutting, slicing, recombining, and remixing paper fragments is often called 'collage'. With three-dimensional objects the term ‘assemblage’ can also be used. With skilful juxtaposition, materials suddenly appear harmonious, or clash with each other, creating friction and energy.  

Many artists see the potential in what has been left behind or gone unnoticed in our daily lives. By elevating commonly thrown away materials to something worthy of attention, a new type of space is created: one of endless possibilities. It’s a type of creative practice that is open for us all to try. Art can be a humble yet essential part of everyday life.

Event accessibility

Display accessibility

  • Wheelchair access



Gallery facilities

Detailed information on accessibility at the National Galleries of Scotland

Parking for visitors is available at both Modern One and Modern Two. A donation is requested of £3 for up to 4 hours and £6 for 4-8 hours. Our payment meters have contactless capability. There is free accessible parking for blue badge holders.

  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair access
  • Changing places toilet
  • Disabled parking
  • Lockers (£1/£2)
  • Bike rack
  • Parking
  • Toilets for gallery visitors
  • Café
Getting here

Getting here

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is located 15 minutes’ walk from Princes Street. It includes two buildings, Modern One and Modern Two, set in a beautiful sculpture park.

Venue map
73 & 75 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3DR

Conversations with the Collection

Conversations with the Collection

This is display is part of Conversations with the Collection, a changing programme of displays that offers visitors a brand new way to experience the national collection. 

A celebration of Scottish and international modern and contemporary art, the thematic displays place creativity and conversation at their core by considering how dialogue and exchange shape and reshape artistic process.

Conversations with the Collection displays

Conversations with the Collection displays

Explore the individual displays that make up Conversations with the Collection.

Our Friends

Our Friends

Friends of the Galleries get free unlimited entry to all exhibitions, and enjoy a wide range of exclusive benefits including early exhibition access, special events and 10% discount in our cafes.

What's on

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