Conversations with the Collection | Transformations

Open daily, 10am–5pm

Admission free


Part of Conversations with the Collection


Whether spinning, rising, piercing, or contorting, every artwork in this display is in the process of transformation. From the frenetic energy of Tracey Emin’s scrawled lines, through the oozing central mass of Pat Douthwaite’s painting, to the skewed imagery in Alex Dordoy’s prints, transgressive new forms are taking shape. All these artworks share a common reference point: the human body. 

In the exhibition space, a host of bodies and bodily forms are gathered, taking up position relative to one another. Pregnant, hybrid, distorted, dissected, and even inside out bodies are all engaged in the encounter. 

Though these artists may be approaching bodily transformation via different motivations and media, there are numerous criss-crossing connections between the forms, practices, and ideas represented. Some artworks grapple with sexual and gender-related symbolism. Some take personal stories as a starting point to address universal questions. Some engage with theoretical concepts like ‘the uncanny’, or creative techniques like ‘automatism’. Others reflect on fundamental aspects of bodily experience including birth, sex, reproduction, and death. 

From cool smooth marble to textured powdered pigment, through their making and materials, all these artworks appeal to the senses. Drawing on the relationship between the optical and the tactile, they invite an awareness of sensation without the need to touch.

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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 £5 for up to 4 hours and £9 for 4-8 hours. Our payment meters have contactless capability. There is free accessible parking for blue badge holders.

  • Information desk
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair access
  • Accessible toilets
  • Changing places toilet
  • Wheelchairs available
  • Public toilets
  • Disabled parking
  • Lockers (£1/£2)
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Buggy park
  • Seating throughout
  • Bike rack
  • Parking
  • Café
Getting here

Getting here

The Modern 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
  • Open daily, 10am–5pm
  • Open daily, 10am–5pm
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 other displays in Conversations with the Collection.

Audio tours

Audio tours

Welcome Audio Tour

For this tour, our curators introduce the themes of the display room by room and explain how they have drawn from the collection of modern and contemporary art to unearth evocative stories and create bold comparisons between the artists, ideas and ways of making. 

A conversation piece

For this tour audio tour of the Conversations with the Collection display at Modern One we have invited guests to share their thoughts on a selection of artworks from the display. Not knowing in advance which artworks they would be discussing, these responses are honest, real and unscripted. 

Audio Described Tour

Enjoy a selection of audio descriptions of artworks at from Conversations with the Collection. Taking over the top level of Modern One, this display is a celebration of Scottish and international modern and contemporary art.

Related articles & talks

Related articles & talks

Staff Insights on Sarah Lucas

In this blog Edward Wilkinson looks at the work of English artist Sarah Lucas.

Pat Douthwaite panel discussion

Professor Susannah Thompson (Glasgow School of Art) and Berlin-based curator Kyla McDonald discuss the life and work of Scottish artist Pat Douthwaite. 

Families | Art chat

Families | Art chat

Designed for families aged 6+ our art chat guide helps you explore the different artworks in this exhibition and encourages you to make your own. Available to pick up in gallery or download.

Friends go free

Friends go free

Become a Friend to enjoy unique access to the nation’s art collection with unlimited free entry to exhibitions, Friends-only exhibition previews and a 10% discount in our gallery shops & cafés.

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