The Modern Scot

  • 1st December 2011 − 11th May 2014 | Scottish National Portrait Gallery

A unique Scottish identity

The artists and writers who engaged with the Modern Movement were concerned with contemporary subject matter and new forms of expression. They rejected the nostalgic sentimentality of the ‘Kailyard School’ exemplified by writers like J. M. Barrie and the ‘cabbage patch and cottar’ paintings of Edward Hornel and Sir James Guthrie. By contrast, they wanted to give expression to a unique Scottish identity that could only be fully articulated through an engagement with the internationalist concerns of Modernism.  This did not mean a rejection of the past – on the contrary, the importance of Gaelic language and culture was recognised, as was the need to repair the breach in continuity that they felt marked Scotland’s cultural history. This meant there was a strain of patriotic Celticism in the Modern Movement in Scotland, alongside the commitment to the present.

Willa Anderson, Mrs Edwin Muir, 1890-1970. Writer and translator Nigel McIsaac


More on this work