The main aim of the National Galleries of Scotland’s press office is to achieve positive coverage for the Galleries' art collection, exhibitions and activities in the widest range of media. The press office team works with a range of press, broadcast media and public body contacts in pursuit of constructive and informed public debate about the National Galleries.
The press office is the first point of contact for journalists seeking information. As a result, the team are in regular contact with all departments so as to maintain a constant awareness of current events.
The department holds regular press views for new exhibitions, liaises with journalists to achieve favourable and sometimes exclusive coverage of exhibitions, events or people within the Galleries, commissions and works with film-makers for specific projects and publicises new acquisitions. The press office also provides press releases, images and interviews for exhibitions and events.
Press releases 2017
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop announced today the appointment of Benny Higgins to succeed Ben Thomson as the new Chair of the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) Board. The Cabinet Secretary said:
“I am pleased to welcome Benny Higgins as the new Chair of the Board of Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland. Having served as a member of the NGS Board for three years now, he has been a real asset to the organisation, bringing in a wealth of experience and business acumen.
Building on the legacy of the current Chair Ben Thomson, under whose leadership NGS has flourished as an organisation of international reputation, I am confident that he will pursue the Board’s good work and ensure that the NGS will continue to inspire a wider national and international audience through its innovative programme of exhibitions and activities.”
Benny Higgins is Chief Executive of Tesco Bank and Group Strategy Director for Tesco PLC. He is also a member of the Tesco Executive Committee.
He began his career at Standard Life in 1983 where he joined as an actuarial student and became a member of the Standard Life Group Executive in 1996. In 1997, he moved to the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to become Chief Executive of Retail Banking during which time he led the successful integration of NatWest Retail Banking, one of the largest mergers ever undertaken in UK banking. He became Chief Executive Officer of the Retail Business of HBOS plc. in 2006, before joining Tesco Bank as Chief Executive in 2008.
Benny holds a First Class Honours degree in Mathematics from the University of Glasgow and became a Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries in 1986. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland, a member of the Scottish Government Financial Services Advisory Board (FiSAB) and a member of the Financial Capability Board. He is also a Non-Executive Director of the Buccleuch Estates, a Trustee of the Edinburgh International Culture Summit and a Prince’s Trust Ambassador.
This appointment which is regulated by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland will run for four years from from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2021.
The appointment which is part-time is non-remunerated for a time commitment of 3-4 days per month.
Benny Higgins currently does not hold any other Public Appointments.
All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process.
In accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity within the last five years (if there is any to be declared) to be made public.
Benny Higgins has had no political activity in the last 5 years.
National Galleries of Scotland is one of Scotland’s most popular cultural destinations, and in 2015 it welcomed more than 2 million visitors to its Galleries. It ranks within the top thirty most visited museums anywhere in the world. Further information is available at https://www.nationalgalleries.org/.
The organisation is governed by a Board of Trustees which is accountable to the public through Ministers and the Scottish Parliament for the discharging of the functions as defined in the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1906 (as amended in 1985).
New Graham Fagen and Douglas Gordon exhibitions at Scottish National Portrait Gallery to explore the complexities of Scotland’s national poet
The complex reputation of Scotland’s greatest cultural icon will be explored by two of the country’s most prominent artists in new exhibitions which open at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery this summer. Graham Fagen, who represented Scotland at the 2015 Venice Biennale, the world’s largest showcase for contemporary art, will join the multi-award-winning artist Douglas Gordon in showing work inspired by the life and legacy of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns.
From 20 May until 29 October Fagen will be showing The Slave’s Lament, a four-screen audio-visual installation that was premiered in his Venice show, which is based on a pivotal moment in Burns’s life and inspired by the poignant beauty of his poem of the same name.
Burns wrote The Slave’s Lament from the perspective of an African man forced into slavery and exile in Virginia, who despairs of his fate and longs for his homeland of Senegal. The poet’s empathy with the oppressed is evident in the poem’s haunting lines, and the struggle against injustice is a powerful theme in his wider work. Against this background, Fagen’s installation touches upon fateful circumstances in the poet’s own life, which could have changed things immeasurably. In 1786, six years before the poem’s publication, Burns found himself in dire financial straits and, having received an offer of employment through a friend, came close to taking up a position as an overseer on a Jamaican sugar plantation. It was only the timely publication and instant success of his first volume of poems that prevented him from making that journey.
Growing up in the west of Scotland, as Fagen did (he was born in Glasgow in 1966), there was no escaping the poetry of Burns. He is also fascinated by the significance of popular music in people’s lives, as a force that reflects and defines personal and collective experience and identity.
Fagen often works with collaborators from a range of different disciplines, and for The Slave’s Lament, he approached Scottish composer Sally Beamish to write a score for Burns’s evocative lyrics. Her beautiful music, for violin, cello and double bass, is played by members of the Scottish Ensemble and sung by reggae artist Ghetto Priest, while production and guitar are provided by Adrian Sherwood and Skip McDonald, who helped to found the legendary dub record label On-U Sound. Their performances are captured on the four screens that comprise this thought-provoking installation, which presents a fascinating meditation on an alternative trajectory in Burns’s life, and its unknowable impact on his work, his legacy, his reputation and world literature.
Douglas Gordon: Black Burns, which will be the artist’s first major work shown at the SNPG, will be on show from 29 July to 29 October. Gordon’s career has been marked by major honours (he is the only Scot, aside from Sean Connery to be awarded the title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, the highest civil honour awarded by the French Government), and by exhibitions in museums and galleries across the world. His work often takes as its subject something familiar (the Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho is one famous example) and explores the ways in which memories and expectations surrounding it can be thrown off-balance by subtle interventions in the way it is presented and displayed.
Gordon’s installationwill be a response to the full-length marble portrait of Burns created by John Flaxman in 1824 for Thomas Hamilton’s Burns Monument, to the south of Edinburgh’s Calton Hill, which now occupies pride of place in the heart of the Gallery designed to enshrine Scotland’s greatest figures.
Flaxman’s exceptionally fine and subtle sculpture confers heroic status upon the poet, and celebrates a set of universal virtues that have been ascribed to him, but does not perhaps address the more complex and nuanced nature of the man himself, whom the English poet, Lord Byron, saw as consisting of seemingly conflicting qualities: ‘tenderness, roughness – delicacy, coarseness – sentiment, sensuality – soaring and groveling, dirt and deity – all mixed up in that one compound of inspired clay.’
This duality, or tension between opposing impulses, is a major fascination of Douglas Gordon, whose work has often drawn inspiration from Scottish literature to explore a split in the wider Scottish psyche.
Douglas Gordon: Black Burns will aim to render Flaxman’s totemic sculpture of Scotland’s national hero at once more human, more vulnerable and more exposed.
Christopher Baker, Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, said: “These two remarkable and complementary projects will provide a powerful response to the inspiring and complex legacy of Robert Burns and his writing for the many visitors to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery over the Summer. Both exhibitions are free and I am confident will have a very wide appeal indeed. We are immensely grateful to the outstanding artists Douglas Gordon and Graham Fagen for their commitment and allowing us to showcase their thought-provoking work in this way.”
Both exhibitions will be part of the Edinburgh Art Festival 2017, which this year runs from 27 July to 27 August.
For further information please contact the National Galleries Press Office on 0131 624 6325/6247 or email@example.com.
GRAHAM FAGEN: THE SLAVE’S LAMENT
20 May – 29 October 2017
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
1 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JD
0131 624 6200 | Admission FREE
Press view: Thursday 18 May 2017, 11:30 – 13:00h
DOUGLAS GORDON: BLACK BURNS
29 July – 29 October 2017
Scottish National Portrait Gallery,
1 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JD
0131 624 6200 | Admission FREE
Press view: (TBC) Wednesday 26 July 2017, 11:30 – 13:00h
A PERFECT CHEMISTRY: PHOTOGRAPHS BY HILL & ADAMSON
27 May – 1 October 2017
SCOTTISH NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY
1 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JD
Admission: £10 (£8) | 0131 624 6200
Exhibition sponsored by EY
This summer the Scottish National Portrait Gallery will explore the captivating images produced by the unique partnership of Scottish photographic pioneers David Octavius Hill (1802-1870) and Robert Adamson (1821-1848). A Perfect Chemistry will comprise over 100 photographic works dating from just four short years in the 1840s, when these two men changed the path of photography and created a remarkable body of work that has had an unparalleled impact on the medium. This will be the first time in 15 years that these treasured photographs will have been the subject of a large exhibition in the UK.
The artistic partnership between the painter Hill and the engineer Adamson was remarkable in many respects: only four years after the invention of photography was announced to the world in 1839, the Scottish pair had not only mastered and improved upon the new medium, but were producing breathtaking works in extraordinary quantities. Their innovative images appear surprisingly fresh even today and their subjects range from intimate portraits to beautiful cityscapes that document the urbanisation of the Scottish capital. A Perfect Chemistry will also feature fascinating images of the Newhaven fisherfolk which form one of the most significant groups within Hill and Adamson’s oeuvre; these outstanding photographs belie the technical challenges faced by the duo and are arguably among the first examples of social documentary images in the history of photography.
The meeting between Hill and Adamson was precipitated by a polarizing religious dispute: on 18 May 1843 a group of ministers walked out of the Church of Scotland’s annual General Assembly in Edinburgh and officially established the Free Church of Scotland. The event rocked the nation and political status quo, sending reverberations around the world. Hill was so moved by the ministers standing up for their beliefs that he decided to commemorate the event in a large-scale painting representing all 400 of them. He turned to Adamson, 19 years his junior, as the first and only professional calotypist in Edinburgh, to photograph the sitters as preliminary sketches for his grand painting.
Hill quickly became smitten by the new art form and within weeks of meeting, the two men entered into a partnership and began making photographs together. Within a matter of months their works were featured in exhibitions and receiving critical acclaim, often being compared to Rembrandt’s etchings due to the strong chiaroscuro (or contrasting dark and light) quality of the prints.
Ironically, Hill had approached photography as a means to expedite his painting yet it took him 23 years to finish his large commemorative canvas: The First General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland; Signing Act of Separation and Deed of Demission (1843-66).The imposing picture was ultimately sold to the Free Church of Scotland and it continues to hang today in their headquarters in Edinburgh.
The success of Hill and Adamson’s partnership relied on professional alchemy as well as personal affinity, with both men working and living in Rock House, a landmark building located on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill. Since making calotypes required natural sunlight, the photographers used the house’s south-facing garden as their studio, employing a series of props and several different backgrounds for their outdoor images.
These portraits made at Rock House represent a real ‘who’s who’ of Edinburgh’s society and illustrate the vibrancy of the capital’s cultural life in the 1840s; eminent sitters ranged from the artist Sir David Allan, toIsabella Burns Begg, the sister of poet Robert Burns, and the inventor of chloroform James Young Simpson. A string of foreign sitters also attested to the international nature of the capital at this time.
Hill’s artistry gave him an eye for composition, evident in an intriguing portrait of Lady Ruthven, whom he posed with her back to the camera to exploit the intricate lace detailing of her shawl against her dress. The image reads as a metaphor for photography itself: the negative and positive image captured on paper. Adamson appeared to push the boundaries of photography—demonstrating skills few possessed at such an early period in the history of the art form. To create calotypes the photographers dealt with a complex process of applying light-sensitive chemical solutions to paper in order to create the images. The steps involved were cumbersome and variable, yet the consistently high quality of the prints indicate they had perfected the process and mastered the fickle chemistry of early photography.
The exhibition also will reveal how Hill and Adamson made clever use of stylistic and practical devices when creating their pictures. Books not only suggested the sitter was educated, but the white pages allowed light to bounce back on the subject (at a time when there were no studio lights), while the actual object would keep the sitters’ fidgety hands occupied for the duration of the exposure. Poses were held anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes depending on the available sunlight, and any fidgeting during that time would result in a blurred image. The resulting photographs nevertheless display remarkable vitality, and in some, carry the sense of spontaneity of a modern snapshot like in the group portrait Edinburgh Ale where the sitters exhibit relaxed poses and faint smiles.
Hill and Adamson also captured the fisherfolk of nearby Newhaven. The men and women of the village were known throughout Edinburgh and beyond for their distinctive costumes, and their reputation for bravery had made them a part of popular culture in the nineteenth century, even featuring as characters in novels by Sir Walter Scott. With the limitations of the medium, the photographers could not capture the boats at sea and interestingly some of their most iconic works from the series, depict the men beside their beached boats or tending to their fishing lines ashore. These shoots were not a casual day out at the shore; in order to record these subjects the two men had to transport all their cumbersome equipment (wooden box cameras, tripods, paper, and support stands) to the site. Such complex requirements didn’t stop Hill and Adamson from travelling around Scotland—Glasgow, Linlithgow and St Andrews — and even as far afield as Durham and York in England. The Newhaven images are rare examples of social documentary photography and a selection of the Newhaven photographs was shown at the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in London in 1851; an early indication of the importance of the partnership to the history of photography.
The untimely death of Adamson on 14 January 1848, at the age of 26, marked the end of this unparalleled partnership, but their legacy continues. The fact that the photographs continue to delight is indicative of the special chemistry shared by these two Scottish pioneers. The last exhibition of this scale of Hill and Adamson’s fragile works was Facing the Light at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 2002.
Christopher Baker, Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, commented: “Hill and Adamson’s works are the foundation of the photography collection at the National Galleries of Scotland. Their contribution to the history of photography was profound and enduring and is appreciated all over the world. The National Galleries holds the most comprehensive collection in existence and this very carefully selected exhibition will demonstrate the full range of their achievement. We are delighted to be providing visitors with an opportunity to view such important and inspiring works as part of our long-term commitment to promoting the appreciation of photography.”
Sue Dawe, EY Managing Partner for Edinburgh and Head of Financial Services in Scotland, said: “EY has long been a supporter of the arts and I am delighted that we are able to continue our sponsorship in Scotland with the National Galleries of Scotland. The work showcased in this exhibition demonstrates a legacy of industry and ingenuity for which Scotland is renowned worldwide. On behalf of EY, I am proud to help celebrate the efforts of two creative, Edinburgh-based photographers who were dedicated to their craft and documenting Scotland’s social history.”
A Perfect Chemistry: Photographs by Hill & Adamson is part of the Edinburgh Art Festival.
Notes to editors:
About the Robert Mapplethorpe Photography Gallery
A Perfect Chemistry is being shown in the Robert Mapplethorpe Photography Gallery and is part of a continuing series of photography exhibitions (including Document Scotland: The Ties That Bind and The View From Here: Landscape Photography from the National Galleries of Scotland) in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The Robert Mapplethorpe Photography Gallery, named after the renowned American photographer, is supported by a very generous donation from The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. The Gallery is the first purpose-built photography space of its kind in a major museum in Scotland.
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For Immediate Release: Wednesday 8 March 2017
Celebrating Scotland’s Art is an ambitious project to transform the way that the world’s greatest collection of Scottish art is presented and shared with the widest possible audience at the Scottish National Gallery.
Work on the construction of new Galleries was due to start in March. However, there will now be a delay of several months to the full start on site. For the past 6 months we have been working with our main contractor Interserve on the detailed designs and various tender packages for the building work. It has become clear that some elements around the delivery of the construction work are more complex and potentially more expensive to implement than was originally anticipated.
We therefore have to carry out some value engineering in the coming months in order to streamline some parts of the construction and bring the plans into line with our budget. In practice this means that we will be re-examining some of the specifications and construction methods for aspects of the design to ensure that the project stays within cost.
Until this work on value engineering is complete we will not have a confirmed date for the start of construction but we are hopeful that we can begin work on site later this year. We will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that there is minimal disruption to The Mound precinct during construction work. In the meantime, the Scottish National Gallery remains open as usual and the highlights of the Scottish collection are on display to the public.
8 April – 5 November 2017
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
1 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JD
Powerful self-portraits depicting drug addiction of acclaimed Scottish photographer to be shown by National Galleries of Scotland
A compelling and powerful series of photographs that document an acclaimed Scottish photographer’s devastating descent into drug addiction are to be given an exclusive first public showing this spring at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (SNPG).
Graham MacIndoe: Coming Clean will exhibit 25 personal and graphic images taken throughout the six-year period in which heroin and crack cocaine seized hold of successful New York-based photographer Graham MacIndoe (b.1963).
These hugely original photographs intimately record MacIndoe’s downward trajectory from professional photographer with a flourishing career to struggling opiate addict, a journey of anguish and isolation that was to culminate in an arrest for drug possession and a four-month stint in New York’s notorious Riker’s Island prison and five months in an American immigration detention centre before he got clean.
The images both powerfully confront the perilous destructiveness of addiction and explore the genre of self-portraiture in a way unrivalled in the photographic medium.
Graham MacIndoe studied painting at Edinburgh College of Art and received a Masters degree in photography at the Royal College of Art in London, before moving to New York in 1992 where he later pursued a career as a professional photographer. His work began to appear in some of the world’s leading publications, including The New York Times and The Guardian.
MacIndoe’s success led him to take portraits of the most recognisable people in the world, from Hollywood actors and authors to international artists and pop stars. However, he began to use alcohol and drugs in part to mitigate the stress arising from this demanding lifestyle, and also upheaval in his personal life, but his heroin habit gradually overtook everything that once mattered.
MacIndoe has now been clean for seven years, largely thanks to an innovative prison rehab program, what he describes as “a compassionate judge” and the support of his partner Susan Stellin, a reporter with whom he co-wrote Chancers: Addiction, Prison, Recovery, Love: One Couple's Memoir, published by Random House in June 2016.
The recovery has seen MacIndoe prosper again, as a working photographer and as adjunct professor of photography at Parsons The New School in New York City, while he and Stellin were awarded a 2014 Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship for a project about deportation. In addition to being represented in the National Galleries of Scotland collection, his photographs also reside in the collections of The New York Public Library, The British Council, The V&A, The Museum of Fine Arts, St Petersburg, Florida and The National Media Museum, Bradford.
While other photographers have shown the excesses of drug-taking in graphic detail before, the position usually adopted has been one of voyeur; not of subject. In MacIndoe’s case, his images do not show an individual exploited for a mass audience, so the power and control rests firmly with himself, and never before has a photographer captured addiction with such subjective honesty and rigour from the inside. This produced body of work is not only truly ground-breaking in its content, but in fact requires a certain degree of courage in viewing.
Coming Clean’s images are a result of a powerful interdependence between MacIndoe’s strong compulsions, the drive to capture the consequences of his addiction, and of his dexterous ability to do so.
The photographer hoped to avoid glamorising what had become “a solitary existence, the monotonous repetition of an addict's daily life. I turned the camera on myself because I wanted to photograph addiction from the inside – a perspective most people never see".
He admits that, “even in that haziness of addiction I was thinking like a photographer… how these pictures would be perceived”, and throughout this, his photographer’s eye remained keen and strong, even if everything else did not.
In their use of light, composition and ambiance, this eye emanates through Coming Clean’s images. Using basic digital cameras with self-timers, MacIndoe recorded himself while engaging in his personal drug rituals. His skilful use of light and shadow created a series of haunting self-portraits that reveal the squalor and stark reality of addiction.
Almost all the photographs are set within the small and limiting confines of his flat in Brooklyn. There is little connection with or evidence of the outside world and the few views of the city outside recorded from the window only seem to reinforce the isolating and claustrophobic existence. The only figure to appear in the scenes is MacIndoe himself, whose ghost-like presence is often exaggerated through the piercing light. In one portrait he is photographed against a window—turning his back literally and figuratively on the outside world—and the strong backlight has effectively distorted his body so that his head appears to float up and away.
Though no image, perhaps, is as symbolic of Coming Clean as that in which a clearly incapacitated MacIndoe rests his head on a seat, the evidence of a recent heroin injection in his contorted face and blood trickling from his forearm. Not only does MacIndoe, albeit inadvertently, frame the whole shot with his outstretched hand, but in his final action before descending into unconsciousness leaves the viewer with the understanding that amid the chaos, what he had been reaching out for was is the one thing he’d been left with any discernible control over; his camera.
Graham MacIndoe said: “It is a great honour to have the first showing of this body of work at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Although the images were taken during a difficult time, I am grateful to have made it through that period and hope this series shows that recovery is possible even from the depths of serious addiction. I never anticipated that these photographs would find a place in the national collection, so I’m especially excited for the opportunity to exhibit them in the city where I first discovered photography”.
Annie Lyden, International Photography Curator at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, said: “These photographs offer a rare insight into a very real aspect of the human condition. Graham’s honesty and courage in documenting this particular moment of his life allows us to see the rawness and isolation of addiction from the inside. The images are powerful and are at times upsetting, but you will not find a more candid and revealing series of self-portraits than Graham MacIndoe’s Coming Clean photographs.”
Notes to Editors
Susan Stellin and Graham MacIndoe’s book Chancers: Addiction, Prison, Recovery, Love: One Couple's Memoir was released in June 2016 on Random House. More information on the book can be found here.
MacIndoe and Stellin will be giving a talk during the TEDxStanford 2017 on Sunday April 23 2017. More information can be found here.
HELP SAVE THE STAG
Following significant support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Art Fund, the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) launched a public fundraising campaign today to raise the remaining sum required to secure the acquisition of The Monarch of the Glen, c.1851 by Sir Edwin Landseer (1802–73).
A partnership between NGS and the painting’s current owner, global drinks company Diageo, was agreed in November last year. Under the arrangement, Diageo will gift half the estimated market value of the painting to allow NGS the opportunity to acquire the work for £4 million. This will allow the painting to remain on public view in Scotland where it can be enjoyed by the millions of visitors who come to the Galleries every year. NGS was given four months to raise the funds required so the deadline is now a month away, on 17 March.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has agreed to support the campaign with a generous donation (£2.75 million), with Art Fund also gifting a significant sum (£350,000). Along with other donations and pledges, this means that the NGS has already raised £3.25m towards the final target.
Sir John Leighton, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland said: “There has been a great response to the news that we have a fantastic opportunity to acquire this iconic image for Scotland. We are absolutely delighted by the incredible support from the HLF and Art Fund and have already received numerous donations and pledges from private individuals. However, we still have some way to go to reach our £4 million target and with only one month left until the deadline we are keen to reach out to the public to help ensure that The Monarch of the Glen can stay in Scotland to be enjoyed for generations to come.”
Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, HLF said: “The Monarch of the Glen is an evocative painting which has earned global recognition. With the help of National Lottery players, we are playing our part in securing it a permanent home at the National Galleries of Scotland. We very much hope the fundraising campaign will be successful and enable many more people to enjoy this beautiful and historic painting.”
Dr. Stephen Deuchar, Director, Art Fund said: “This technically superb picture is as interesting and provocative today as it was when first exhibited. I hope the public will support the NGS's campaign, to which Art Fund has contributed £350,000, to put this famous work into public ownership.”
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs said: “I congratulate the National Galleries of Scotland on securing significant sums from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Art Fund to support their acquisition of the iconic Monarch of the Glen painting. I wish them every success with their campaign to raise the remaining funding to ensure the painting can remain in public display in Scotland so that visitors from across Scotland and around the world can continue to enjoy it.”
The Monarch of the Glen is one of the most famous paintings of the nineteenth century. It has taken on many different meanings and can be considered a work of great technical accomplishment, a celebration of natural wonders, a romantic evocation of Scotland, a powerful marketing image and a potent symbol of changing and sometimes conflicting interpretations of Scottish culture and history. It has been in private and corporate collections since it was painted in 1851.
For further information please contact:
Patricia Convery, Acting Director, Audience Engagement
Tel: 0131 624 6325; 07967 088313
Notes to Editors:
The Monarch of the Glen and the NGS
The Monarch of the Glen is one of the most famous paintings of the nineteenth century and an iconic image which for many encapsulates the grandeur and majesty of Scotland’s Highlands and wildlife. It is an outstanding example of animal painting by the greatest Victorian artist to produce such work, but has also taken on a symbolic status in the popular imagination as a romantic emblem of Scotland and the natural wonders the country encapsulates. The ideal home for such an important and resonant picture is the Scottish National Gallery in the heart of Edinburgh, where it can be enjoyed and admired by millions of visitors in the context of the nation’s unrivalled collection of Scottish, British and European art.
The Monarch of the Glen was painted c.1851 by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, who was then at the height of his powers as an artist. Its impact is considerably enhanced by its fine condition and large size: it is painted in oil on canvas and is 163.8 x 169 cm. A monumental stag imperiously surveys the rugged landscape; gorse and bracken are in the foreground and dramatic cliff faces and escarpments form the backdrop. The composition is unified by swirling mist which rises up from the glen and merges with the billowing clouds that mask the mountain tops. The stag is superbly defined, with every detail precisely established, from the texture of its fur to the moisture around its nostrils. He is a so-called ‘royal’ or twelve point stag – a reference to the number of tines on his antlers.
The painting was initially conceived as part of a series of three works which would have been displayed in the House of Lords, but this was deemed to be inappropriate and so it was soon sold to a private collector. From the moment it was first exhibited in 1851 at the Royal Academy it proved immensely popular. In the Royal Academy catalogue it was associated with a poem called Legends of Glenorchy. There is debate over whether this helps identify the site; Glen Quoich has also been proposed.
Sir Edwin Landseer (1802–73) was among the most highly regarded painters of the nineteenth century; he was particularly renowned for the technical skill and empathy with which he depicted animals. His father taught him to etch and he studied at the Royal Academy Schools (being elected an Academician in 1831). In 1824 he first visited Scotland and was overwhelmed and inspired by the experience of the landscape and the people; he returned annually in late summer and the autumn on sketching exhibitions, developing a particular affinity with Sir Walter Scott and his work. The resulting paintings range from intimate and remarkably fresh plein air landscape studies, to his most famous large-scale picture, The Monarch of the Glen. They played a key role in formulating the deeply attractive and romantic image of the Highlands, which still resonates today.
He loved the splendour of the landscape, the sense of space and solitude that could be experienced and the spectacle of animals in the wild (especially deer, which he had studied from the 1830s). Landseer enjoyed aristocratic patronage and worked extensively for Queen Victoria; consequently a number of his works remain in the Royal Collection (he was knighted in 1850). In 1865 he refused to become president of the Royal Academy due to ill health. He was a very refined technician, who excelled at creating meticulous drawings and bravura oil sketches which informed his larger, highly finished and publically exhibited paintings.
The Monarch of the Glen has taken on a life and reputation which transcends the original circumstances of its creation. It was widely reproduced in the nineteenth century, especially through steel engravings. In 1916 it was purchased by Sir Thomas Dewar. From that point it was regularly employed as a marketing image, first by Pears Soap and then by John Dewar & Sons Distillery and Glenfiddich. Subsequently it was also appropriated by Nestlé and Baxter’s Soup. The title was employed for the comic drama series set in the Highlands The Monarch of the Glen (2000–2005). In the artistic sphere it was also used by Sir Peter Blake and more recently in 2012 by Peter Saville and the Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh for the large tapestry After, After, After Monarch of the Glen.
The Monarch of the Glen: exhibitions at NGS
The painting has been a key loan to two important exhibitions organised by the National Galleries of Scotland: The Discovery of Scotland (1978) and The Monarch of the Glen: Landseer in the Highlands (2005). It was the cover image for the catalogue of the latter show, which was guest-curated by the distinguished Landseer scholar Richard Ormond. He wrote ‘The image of the The Monarch of the Glen is so iconic that it is difficult to look at the painting with a fresh eye but it is, in fact, a work of wonderful accomplishment.’
Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported. For further information, please contact Katie Owen, HLF Press Office, on tel: 020 7591 6036/07973 613820
About Art Fund
Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators. Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 123,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grant-giving, Art Fund’s support for museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year (won by the V&A, London, in 2016) and a range of digital platforms.
Find out more about Art Fund and the National Art Pass at www.artfund.org
For further information please contact Madeline Adeane, Press Relations Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org / 0207 225 4804
Photo-call: 11:30-13:00h, Thursday 6 April 2017
CONSTABLE & McTAGGART
8 April 2017 – 25 March 2018
Scottish National Gallery, The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL
Admission free | 0131 624 6200
One of the greatest masterpieces of British art will go on display in Scotland for the first time in over 15 years this spring. The monumental oil painting Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, painted in 1831 by the great English Romantic painter John Constable (1776-1837), will be shown alongside one of the most powerful and celebrated of all Scottish landscape paintings: The Storm (1890), by William McTaggart (1835-1910).
This display is part of Aspire, a partnership programme touring Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, exhibited 1831, across the UK. Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, was secured for the British public through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Manton Foundation, Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation) and Tate Members. Aspire is a five-year partnership project between five partner institutions supported by Art Fund, and by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund. The tour is designed to share this remarkable painting with as wide an audience as possible and draws upon powerful connections to works in each of the five participating venues.
At 1.5m high and nearly 2m wide, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows is one of a series of monumental ‘six-footer’ canvases painted by the iconic artist – arguably the greatest of them all. Painted three years after the death of his beloved wife Maria, the spectacular painting is laden with personal meaning and is the work he regarded with the greatest pride, referring to it as the ‘Great Salisbury’.
The artist and his wife had visited Salisbury during their honeymoon, and it became a place of solace for Constable after Maria’s death. The painting depicts a turbulent landscape of raging, stormy clouds which reflect Constable’s state of mind: his grief at the death of Maria, as well as his concerns regarding contemporary political and social changes which he felt threatened the future of the Anglican Church and rural life. Yet a magnificent rainbow spanning the composition seems to offer a note of hope, promising that the storm will pass.
Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1831 but met with a mixed critical reception and never found a buyer. Constable’s use of white highlights and his dramatic treatment of the sky were particularly controversial. The work remained in the artist’s studio, where he continued to retouch it, until his death six years later.
Constable’s work was a source of profound inspiration for William McTaggart, both on an artistic and personal level, and seeing these two imposing canvases side by side demonstrates the transformative influence of Constable’s work and techniques on the younger artist.
Often dubbed “the Father of Scottish Painting”, McTaggart took the chance to see Constable’s work wherever he could. He would have seen Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows in 1857, when it was exhibited with six other Constables at the Manchester Art Treasures exhibition.
The 1880s provided McTaggart with more opportunities when 118 works by Constable went on show at the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art (later the Royal Museum of Scotland) between 1883 and 1887. McTaggart’s style changed around that time, and it is highly likely that this resulted from his close observation of Constable’s technique through the works on display in Edinburgh. He had first tackled the subject of The Storm on a smaller scale in 1883 but witnessing Constable’s large oil sketches may have influenced his decision to paint thelarger version on show here, which was to become one of his greatest pictures.
McTaggart's energetic brush work and bold colour illustrate the elemental force of the thunderous sky, lashing wind and turbulent sea. A tiny fishing boat struggling at sea and the launching of a rescue boat from the shore poignantly convey man's vulnerability and courage in the face of Nature’s fury. McTaggart's depiction of the approaching storm closely recalls Constable’s ‘Great Salisbury’; like Constable, he varied his brushstrokes, in order to capture the different textures of sky, sea and land.
McTaggart certainly appreciated Constable’s insistence on painting outdoors and studying nature directly in the open air, the importance of skies in composition, of avoiding imitating other people’s work, and the value of wind, light, air, freshness and movement in landscape painting.
Tricia Allerston, Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the Scottish National Gallery, commented: “We are delighted that Constable’s ‘Great Salisbury’ is coming to Scotland. It is a landmark painting which complements and enriches the permanent displays at the Scottish National Gallery. In addition, and most excitingly, its arrival also gives us an opportunity to explore the impact of one of the most influential artists of the nineteenth century on one of Scotland’s truly important artists.”
Notes to editors:
Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, exhibited 1831, was secured for the British public though major grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Manton Foundation, Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation) and Tate Members. Aspire is a five-year partnership project between Tate Britain, National Galleries of Scotland, National Museum Wales, The Salisbury Museum and Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Art Fund, which will enable this work to go on almost constant view at these venues.
Each partner will display the work in the context of their collection, alongside an inspiring programme of activities enabling audiences of all ages to enjoy and learn more about the work of John Constable.
Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.
Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone the Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, including ARTIST ROOMS and the 2013-18 Aspire tour of Tate’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows by John Constable, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators.
Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 123,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grantgiving, Art Fund’s support for museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year (won by the V&A, London, in 2016), and a range of digital platforms.
Find out more about Art Fund and the National Art Pass at www.artfund.org
For further information please contact Madeline Adeane, Press Relations Manager, email@example.com / 0207 225 4804.
CALL & RESPONSE: WOMEN IN SURREALISM
4 – 26 February 2017
SCOTTISH NATIONAL GALLERY OF MODERN ART (Modern Two)
75 Belford Road, Edinburgh EH4 3DS
Telephone. 0131 624 6200 | Admission FREE
A selection of artworks and texts created by members of four women’s groups based in Edinburgh and Glasgow will be unveiled in a new display which opens at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (SNGMA) this week. Call & Response: Women in Surrealism, which has been organised in partnership with the Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL), will present responses to the work of women artists - such as the famous American photographer Lee Miller and the British artist Eileen Agar - who were at the heart of the Surrealist art movement in the twentieth century, and whose own works from the SNGMA Archive will be displayed alongside that of the women’s groups and of contemporary artist Stephanie Mann.
In a series of workshops held between August and December 2016, members of the groups Sikh Sanjog, Shakti Women’s Aid, Seeing Things and Bonnie Fechters looked at works in the SNGMA’s world-renowned archive of Surrealist and Dada material before going on to write and create artworks of their own, using a range of techniques favoured by the Surrealists.
Surrealism was one of the most radical movements of the twentieth century, which challenged conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, the world of dreams and the laws of chance. Emerging from the chaotic creativity of Dada (itself a powerful rejection of traditional values triggered by the horrors of the First World War) its influence on our wider culture remains potent almost a century after it first appeared in Paris in the 1920s.
Although male Surrealists such as Salvador Dalí and René Magritte are well known today, many hugely influential women artists, who were a vital part of the movement’s activities, are frequently overlooked. The Surreal Encounters exhibition held at the SNGMA in summer 2016 provided the opportunity to look at these artists and the project proceeded from discussions around works in the show.
Facilitated by Edinburgh-based artist Stephanie Mann, the Call and Response workshops examined the lives of Lee Miller (1907-1977), Eileen Agar (1899-1991), Leonora Carrington (1917-2011), Grace Pailthorpe (1883-1971), Claude Cahun (1894-1954) and Valentine Penrose (1898-1978) through their letters, photographs, books and other objects relating to them which are held in the archive.
Surrealism drew upon theories of psychoanalysis developed by Sigmund Freud - specifically the idea that our memories and most basic instincts are stored in a layer of the human mind he called the unconscious - and sought to explore these through writing and art. Participants in the Call and Response workshops were encouraged to create artworks using a range of Surrealist techniques, among them ‘decalcomania’. This involves pouring ink or paint onto the surface of a piece of paper, pressing onto another sheet, and then using the resulting patterns to suggest unexpected objects, figures or landscapes.
Responses were also encouraged through automatic writing and word games, which are designed to capture the voice ‘unedited’ by conscious thought. The Surrealists relied on these techniques as ways of tapping into our intuitive feelings about the world around us, our hidden emotions and life experiences.
Working with GWL allowed the Gallery to open up the collection and archive to women who were not already familiar with the Gallery’s collection and archive. All works made during the workshops as well as related documentation will enter the Gallery’s archive when the display closes.
The project is part of the Gallery’s Public Engagement Programme and follows on from a collaboration with GWL in 2015-16 on a project around then then current exhibition: Modern Scottish Women: Painter and Sculptors 1885-1965.
Sikh Sanjog seeks to inspire and empower Sikh and other Minority Ethnic women to advance their own life opportunities, through the building of skills, confidence and social inclusion. Shakti Women’s Aid provides support to black minority ethnic (BME) women, children and young people who are experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic abuse. Seeing Things is designed to give women the opportunity to explore cultural events across Glasgow, such as (but not limited to) art, music, theatre or comedy, together with friendly and like-minded women. Bonnie Fechters is an informal group focussed on women’s issues, which organises events to raise funds for women’s causes worldwide, visits to Book Festival and Fringe events and the annual event 'Harpies, Fechters and Quines' event, run in conjunction with City of Edinburgh Library and supported by Glasgow Women’s Library.
Morag Smith, National Lifelong Learning Co-ordinator at Glasgow Women’s Library commented: “One of the Women’s Library’s most important aims is to enable women from different backgrounds to access art and cultural activities. Archives and museums can be intimidating places for many people, but through this collaborative project, the team at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art have opened up the treasures of the Gallery’s archive to a new audience and empowered the women involved to take on a new journey of discovery. We are delighted to have been involved.”
Kirstie Meehan, Archivist at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, added: “We’re delighted to open up the Archive in this way, and encourage creative responses to the letters, photographs and publications in the Gallery’s collection. ‘Call and Response’ shows how engaged the workshop participants were with the project, creating artworks and writings in a truly Surrealist vein. This innovative collaboration with Glasgow Women’s Library demonstrated the power of the archive as a living resource, and the enduring appeal of Surrealism for a contemporary generation.”
This project is part of the SNGMA’s Public Engagement Programme which is funded by the D.Daskalopoulos Collection. Supported by Glasgow Women’s Library.
Notes to editors:
For further information about groups and artist participating in Call and Response please visit:
PETER HAINING/PETE HOROBIN
25 March – 24 September 2017
Scottish National Gallery OF MODERN ART (Modern One)
75 Belford Road, Edinburgh EH4 3DR
Telephone. 0131 624 6200 | Admission FREE
A dynamic new three-year programme of contemporary art exhibitions is to open at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (SNGMA) in Edinburgh this spring. Between March 2017 and March 2020 the entire ground floor of the Gallery’s Modern One building will be given over to NOW – a series of six major exhibitions, showcasing the work of some of the most compelling and influential artists working today.
This extensive programme reflects the Gallery’s ambition to share contemporary art with a wide audience, and will shine a light on the extraordinary quality and range of work being made by artists working in Scotland today, from those at the beginning of their career to established talents with an international standing. It will also feature the work of artists from across the globe, placing art created in Scotland in an international context, and demonstrating the crucial exchange between artistic communities around the world. The programme will evolve in collaboration with a range of partners in order to reach new audiences and to support the development of new commissions. NOW will highlight the diversity of contemporary artistic practice, and the unique role of artists, who, through their work can offer alternative ways of seeing and understanding the world around us.
At the heart of each exhibition in NOW will be a significant presentation devoted to the work of a single artist, around which group displays and room-sized installations by a range of other artists will be selected to explore common themes and ideas. As well as new commissions and loans from private and public collections, NOW offers the chance to see recently acquired additions to the Gallery’s collection for the first time, and will offer fresh perspectives on familiar, much-loved works.
The opening exhibition, which will be on show from 25 March, will bring together a fascinating and diverse selection of work, including a major three-room exhibition by Glasgow-based, Turner Prize-shortlisted artist Nathan Coley. The exhibition will also include significant works by world-renowned Lebanese-born artist Mona Hatoum and the influential Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander, a recent installation by Glasgow-based artist Tessa Lynch, and a display pairing the work of painters Louise Hopkins and Tony Swain.
Central to the exhibition will be The Lamp of Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship, Edinburgh 2004 by Nathan Coley, which will be on show for the first time since it underwent a major restoration by the artist in 2016. This iconic installation comprises 286 scaled-down cardboard replicas of every building listed as a place of worship in the 2004 Yellow Pages telephone directory for Edinburgh. Coley is fascinated by the ways in which architecture and urban spaces reflect and impact upon our social relationships, and how they become invested with layers of meaning over time; this installation offers a unique snapshot of the city through its places of religious meeting: churches, cathedrals, synagogues, mosques, Salvation Army halls and temples.
The Lamp of Sacrifice sustained accidental water damage when it was on show in Glasgow in 2015. As part of the process of restoration, a new replica was made for every building, and the original replicas recycled. Revisiting one of the key works of his career after 13 years has been an extraordinary experience for Coley. A new book, to be published in summer 2017 to accompany Coley’s presentation will include a new essay on The Lamp of Sacrifice by the author Ewan Morrison.
Coley’s exhibition will also feature two recent large-scale sculptural works by the artist, being shown in Scotland for the first time as part of NOW – a depiction of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, titled Paul (2015), and Tate Modern on Fire (2017). Both works take the form of an architectural scale model, and in each, the back is left open to reveal a cabinet of curiosities. Located either side of the river Thames in London, these two monumental buildings – one sacred, one secular – are each invested with particular symbolic meaning and are representative of different kinds of institutional power. In Tate Modern on Fire Coley has drawn upon a range of sources, memories and ideas to produce an artwork that reflects the ambiguity, ambition and complexity of his practice.
Over the series of exhibitions, NOW will also bring together pairings of artists’ works to highlight areas of affinity, or divergence in artistic approaches. The first exhibition will pair Louise Hopkins and Tony Swain, who both use found paper as the surface for their paintings. Swain is known for the paintings he makes on newspaper, while Hopkins uses a range of materials, from maps, fabric, mail order catalogue pages and photographs. In very different ways, both artists use the existing imagery on these surfaces as a starting point for their compositions to produce works that suggest landscapes, explore boundaries and create new pictorial spaces.
Also in the first exhibition will be Mona Hatoum’s complete Performance Documents 1980-1987/2013, which presents rarely seen texts, photographs and videos, highlighting the significance of performance and actions in the artist’s early career. Hatoum’s one-off performances often involved radical bodily actions and have a strong relationship to her experiences as a displaced person, forced to flee Lebanon with her parents during the 1970s.
Large-scale oil paintings by two of Scotland’s most established painters will also be paired together in the opening NOW exhibition. Peter Doig’sMilky Way (1990) and Jock McFadyen’s Calton Hill (2014) are both night scenes, but while Doig composes an imaginary scene drawn from memory, McFadyen presents us with a real place, painting a vast, highly textured moon that dwarfs the iconic neo-classical structures that form part of Edinburgh’s famous skyline.
The first instalment of NOW will include two major works by Rivane Neuenschwander. This major international artist is renowned using ephemeral, mundane objects to create elegiac works that reflect on the deeper significance of seemingly trivial actions and the transience of human existence. The installation Harvest (2013-14), which will be shown in the UK for the first time,is a compendium of discarded shopping lists, collected from trolleys and baskets in London supermarkets. Displayed in rows, they form a calendar that reflects upon the daily actions ideas about place, and the passing of time. Also on show will be Neuenschwander’s beautiful film, The Tenant (2010), made in collaboration with Cao Guimaraes, which follows the perilous journey of a simple soap bubble as it moves slowly through an empty apartment.
NOW will highlight the work of a younger generation of artists such as Tessa Lynch, whose installation Wave Machine, which is composed of photographs, floor-based sculptures, and a projected text, was created for a solo presentation at David Dale Gallery in Glasgow in 2016. The first exhibition will also feature the work of the artist known sometimes as Peter Haining, who has created a series of changing identities throughout his career, operating outside the artistic, commercial and political mainstream for more than four decades. A significant part of the artist’s vast archive of documentation, artworks and videos was acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland in 2010, and a selection will be on show here for the first time.
In another first, prize-winning entries in the Tesco Bank Art Competition for Schools will go on display at the SNGMA in June 2017. This annual and much-loved competition, organised by the National Galleries of Scotland’s education department, attracts entries from across the country and showcases the creativity of a new generation of artists.
Speaking about the exhibition, Simon Groom, Director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, said: ‘With six exhibitions over three years, NOW is the most ambitious programme of contemporary art to be staged at the National Galleries of Scotland. It will showcase the work of some of the most influential and compelling artists working now, in Scotland and abroad. NOW builds on the huge success of GENERATION, which brought the work of more than 100 artists working in Scotland over the past 25 years to more than 1.3 million visitors across the country. NOW offers new ways of seeing and thinking for everyone curious about the world around them. NOW is an exhibition about now, for people interested in what is happening now, by some of the most interesting artists living and making work now.’
Notes to Editors
Nathan Coley (b.1967)
Peter Doig (b.1959)
Peter Haining/Pete Horobin (b.1949)
Mona Hatoum (b.1952)
Louise Hopkins (b.1965)
Tessa Lynch (b.1984)
Rivane Neuenschwander (b.1967)
Jock McFadyen (b.1950)
Tony Swain (b.1967)
A major painting by one of the legendary figures of Surrealist art has been acquired by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and will go on public display for the first time this week. The Message of the Forest, which was painted in 1936, is widely acknowledged to be the greatest work by the Czech artist known as Toyen, and is the first of her paintings to enter a UK public collection. It was acquired with support from the Walton Fund and Art Fund.
Born Marie Čermínová in 1902, Toyen was the most celebrated member of the group of Surrealist artists based in Prague, a major centre of Surrealist activity in the 1930s.
In 1923, while seated in a café, the artist declared that henceforth she would be known simply as ‘Toyen’. She didn’t explain her reasons. One idea is that the name derived from the French word ‘Citoyen’ (citizen) and gave her a non-gendered identity; another is that it is a play on the Czech words ‘To je on’, which means ‘It is he’. Throughout her life the artist referred to herself using the masculine form in her native Czech. Famously, she cut her hair short and cross-dressed, often wearing coarse working men’s clothes. Her androgyny and exploration of gender stereotypes have made her a cult figure in recent years.
The Message of the Forest depicts a huge blue bird – seemingly an owl or a bird of prey – which stands against a dark, mysterious, wooded background, the ‘forest’ of the title. One of the bird’s feet has been cut off; the talons of the other foot clutch the severed head of a girl. The bird and forest have been built up with thick, textured paint, contrasting with the pale complexion and more realistic treatment of the head.
The subject embodies a recurring theme in Toyen’s work: that of the power of nature over the human world. Her work repeatedly centres on barren, dream-like landscapes, featuring lone girls, fragmentary female figures and birds. Her interest in these themes originates in illustrations she made for children’s books, but her work soon took on a more bizarre and sinister appearance. Toyen was careful not to ‘explain’ her work, but instead left the viewer to explore the symbolic meaning. Her works seem to respond to dreams and nightmares (she had a keen interest in Sigmund Freud’s writings) and suggest a world of intense anxiety.
From 1925-28 Toyen and her partner, the artist Jan Štyrský, lived in Paris. Returning to Prague, she was a founding member of the Czech Surrealist Group. She was supported in particular by André Breton, the leading figure in the Surrealist movement. Breton visited her in Prague in 1935 and acquired works by her. Through trips to Paris, Toyen became friendly with many of the leading figures in the French Surrealist group, including Max Ernst, Yves Tanguy and Salvador Dalí.
The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art houses a world-famous collection of Surrealist art, including celebrated works by Joan Miró, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Alberto Giacometti and others. Much of the collection came from two sources: Gabrielle Keiller and Roland Penrose. Their collections were strong on French-based Surrealism but neither had much work by women Surrealists, who constituted an important part of the Surrealist movement, or anything by the Czech groups.
The Message of the Forest belonged to Roy and Mary Cullen, American collectors who amassed an unrivalled collection of Czech Surrealism. Toyen’s The Message of the Forest was their most treasured possession. Following Roy’s death in 2014, parts of the collection were sold. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art negotiated the purchase of The Message of the Forest in a private sale, via Christie’s, London.
The acquisition was made possible thanks to support from the Walton Fund and the Art Fund. Henry Walton (1924-2012) and Sula Walton (1924-2009) were psychiatrists and art collectors who lived in Edinburgh and were closely involved with the National Galleries of Scotland. They established a charitable fund specifically to support the Gallery of Modern Art in making new acquisitions. The Art Fund also gave a significant sum towards the acquisition.
Simon Groom said: ‘The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is known internationally for its world-class collection of Surrealist art. There are however, three things to note about the collection: firstly we have few works by women Surrealists; secondly we have nothing by the Czech Surrealists; and thirdly much of what we do have dates from around 1936, when the celebrated International Surrealist exhibition was staged in London, and Roland Penrose, its co-organiser, bought many of the works which we now own. The Message of the Forest, Toyen’s most celebrated work, fills a big gap for us and also perfectly complements our existing collection.’
Stephen Deuchar, Director of Art Fund, added: ‘This haunting work is an excellent addition to the SNGMA’s exceptional collection of Surrealist art. There are no other paintings by Toyen or the Czech Surrealists in any other UK public collection, so we are very pleased to be supporting such an important acquisition, for both the museum and its visitors.
For further information and images please contact the National Galleries of Scotland’s press office on: 0131 624 6247 / 6325 / 6332 / 6314 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators. Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 122,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grant-giving, Art Fund’s support for museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year (won by the V&A, London, in 2016) and a range of digital platforms.
Find out more about Art Fund and the National Art Pass at www.artfund.org
11 January 2017
New ARTIST ROOMS tour to bring outstanding modern and contemporary art to venues across Scotland in 2017
The National Galleries of Scotland and Tate are delighted to announce further details of the eighth year of ARTIST ROOMS on Tour. During 2017, ARTIST ROOMS will bring five exhibitions of outstanding modern and contemporary art to Scotland, showcasing the work of ED RUSCHA, ANDY WARHOL, SIR DON MCCULLIN and JOHAN GRIMONPREZ at venues across the country. These exhibitions are part of a new, UK-wide programme of exhibitions developed with over 30 museums and galleries, which will run until spring 2019, giving audiences the opportunity to see the work of some of the most influential artists from the 20th and 21st centuries in their home towns.
Highlights will include a display of paintings by the legendary pop artist Andy Warhol, which will mark the re-opening of the Burgh Hall in Dunoon, and inaugurate its new purpose-built exhibition galleries. There will also be a rare chance to see the complex and thought-provoking work of the Belgian multimedia artist and filmmaker Johan Grimonprez, at Caithness Horizons Museum in Thurso, the northernmost town on the British mainland; in the South West of Scotland, Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries will present a display of powerful images by the internationally acclaimed photographer Don McCullin, who was awarded a knighthood in the recent New Year’s Honours list.
The works on show will be drawn from the ARTIST ROOMS collection of modern and contemporary art, which is jointly owned by National Galleries of Scotland and Tate on behalf of the public. Since it was established through the d’Offay Donation in 2008, the collection has been shared with some 40 million visitors to 149 exhibitions at 77 Associate museums and galleries around the UK. The touring programme gives young people the chance to explore the work of major artists through creative learning projects, which are a major focus of ARTIST ROOMS activities.
The Burgh Hall, an important civic building in the heart of the Clyde coastal town of Dunoon, has been a much-loved community events venue since 2009, hosting its first ARTIST ROOMS display – a hugely successful showing of work by the acclaimed American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe – in 2012. The building is currently in the final stages of a major refurbishment, and will re-open in spring 2017 with its celebration of the work of Andy Warhol (1928-87), which will concentrate on the artist’s self-portraits and portraits, including key paintings of Robert Mapplethorpe and the legendary German artist Joseph Beuys, who had a great love of Scotland. Commenting on the Andy Warhol exhibition, John McAslan, Chairman of the Dunoon Burgh Hall Trust, said, ‘Andy Warhol remains one of the giants of 20th-century art, whose work is as powerful today as it was when he began his career over 50 years ago. Warhol in Dunoon will represent a landmark moment in the history of the Burgh Hall.’
Johan Grimonprez (b.1962) first came to prominence in 1997 when his complex montage of archival news broadcasts, movie clips and amateur film footage, dial H-I-S-T-0-R-Y, took the art world by storm. The work on show at Caithness Horizons from 11 March to 4 June 2017 will explore themes of identity in filmmaking, blending documentary and fictional accounts of events in the life of Hollywood director Alfred Hitchcock. Caithness Horizon’s Director Beki Pope said: ‘We are very excited to be showing this fascinating work by Johan Grimonprez. It follows very neatly our first ARTIST ROOMS exhibition in 2014, which featured films by Scottish artist Douglas Gordon, whose work shares similar concerns, and will enable us to continue to explore challenging themes with our audience.’
Don McCullin (b.1935) is one of the world's greatest photographers, who has spent much of his long career working in conflict zones around the globe, including Vietnam, Cambodia and Northern Ireland. McCullin’s photographs, which will be on display at the Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries from 26 August to 19 November, document decades of war, mass emigration, famine and political upheaval, but are underscored by a profound humanity, bringing us unbearably close to the experience of people living under conditions that we can barely imagine. Dawn Henderby, Arts Officer at the Gracefield Arts Centre, commented: ‘This exhibition will be particularly relevant to our younger audiences, giving them the chance to see and think about historical conflicts abroad and closer to home. In a world where we are faced with more and more images on our phones and online, the chance to see McCullin’s photographs up close will have a profound impact, providing a unique experience for our community to share.’
Visitors to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh will be able to see the work of the iconic American artist Ed Ruscha (b.1937) from April 2017 to April 2018. Ruscha is widely regarded as one of the most significant artists working today, and this new two-room display will be selected from the substantial collection of his work held in ARTIST ROOMS. Comprising photographic series, paintings and drawings dating from the early 1960s to the 2000s, the display will explore the artist's fascination with West Coast American culture, highlighting the ways in which he has consistently drawn upon urban landscape and architecture, cinema, brands, automobile-culture and language that refer and relate to Los Angeles and Hollywood to create works that engage with the aspirations and seduction of the American Dream.
Perth Museum and Art Gallery will be the fifth Scottish venue in the ARTIST ROOMS 2017 tour, with details to be announced later this year. Roy Jenney, of Culture Perth & Kinross, commented: ‘Culture Perth & Kinross, in conjunction with Perth Museum & Art Gallery, are delighted to be hosting the ARTIST ROOMS in 2017. We very much look forward to sharing details in the very near future.’
The new programme of ARTIST ROOMS On Tour is a partnership between National Galleries of Scotland, Tate and lead Associate Ferens Art Gallery. As Hull celebrates its 2017 year as UK City of Culture, the Ferens will present an exhibition of work by the Australian-born sculptor Ron Mueck from 22 April to 13 August, in their newly refurbished building. The exhibition is being developed with Future Ferens, the gallery’s 18-25 year old volunteers who shaped the venue’s three previous highly engaging ARTIST ROOMS exhibitions.
ARTIST ROOMS exhibitions of work by Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol are currently open in Wolverhampton and Manchester respectively. During 2017, the programme will also bring new exhibitions of work by Martin Creed to Preston; Jenny Holzer to Birmingham; Phyllida Barlow to Margate; August Sander and Roy Lichtenstein to Liverpool; Joseph Beuys to Leeds; Gerhard Richter to Southampton; and Richard Long to Derby.
ARTIST ROOMS On Tour is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, by Art Fund and by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland. Thanks to this support and alongside the ARTIST ROOMS exhibitions, a wider network of Associate museums and galleries will also be invited to take part in a professional development programme. Through workshops, training bursaries, mentoring and peer learning, the programme will help build relationships between venues, strong touring network and better access and learning opportunities for audiences.
The ARTIST ROOMS collection was established by Anthony d’Offay in 2008 through The d’Offay Donation, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, and the Scottish and British Governments in 2008.
The ARTIST ROOMS On Tour programme 2017 is as follows:
Wolverhampton Art Gallery
22 October 2016 - 26 February 2017
The Whitworth, Manchester
19 November 2016 – 16 April 2017
Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library, Preston
27 January 2017 – 3 June 2017
Caithness Horizons Museum, Thurso
11 March - 4 June 2017
Dunoon Burgh Hall
Late spring – summer 2017
Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
22 April - 13 August 2017
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
29 April 2017 – 29 April 2018
27 May - 10 September 2017
Turner Contemporary, Margate
27 May – 17 September 2017
23 June – 15 October 2017
Perth Museum and Art Gallery
12 August – 5 November 2017
Details to be announced
Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries
26 August - 19 November 2017
22 September 2017 – 10 June 2018
Leeds Art Gallery
13 October 2017 - 21 January 2018
John Hansard Gallery, Southampton
11 November 2017 – 3 February 2018
Derby Museum and Art Gallery
2 December 2017 - 4 March 2018
Details subject to change. Please check with the venue before making your visit.