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Spontaneous study visit

Last month I had arranged to take a group of students on a study visit to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The rooms had been rehung to showcase work that had not been seen for a while. In addition, there were several Artists Room including work by Cathy Wilkes, an exhibition of Roy Lichtenstein paintings and prints and a collection of heads in drawing, print and photography.

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Imagine our disappointment when we arrived to find the gallery was closed due to heavy rain the day before causing some minor flooding. Argue as we might, they would not let us in. Over a cup of coffee- outdoors in the sun- we made alternative plans. Luckily, there is plenty to see in Edinburgh. Some of the group had not yet seen The Two Roberts exhibition in Modern 2 across the road. Some of us had seen it in depth and didn’t want to go again. We split up. I went between The Two Roberts upstairs and the collection of Surrealist work downstairs.

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When we had exhausted that, we had lunch and had an interesting discussion about printmaking and how it can be used with painting.
After lunch, we decided to walk to the Royal Scottish Academy where the Annual Exhibition was taking place. On the way we passed St. Mary’s Episcopalian cathedral and I took the group in to see the fabulous stained glass window by Eduardo Paolozzi. Once at the RSA, which so happened to be free that Friday, we had a good look round the work. This ranged from large paintings, multiple panelled works, mixed media, sculpture and installation and also prints. Many of the artists were unfamiliar to the group so I managed to fill them in on details and anecdotes, as I personally knew many of the artists and quite a few I had been taught by at Edinburgh College of Art in the eighties.
We had an interesting discussion about how to approach works of art in terms of understanding and responding.

spontaneous study visit

What was billed as an exciting day at the Gallery of Modern Art ended up being an equally exciting, albeit spontaneous, day at various venues.

Posted by author: Olivia Irvine
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3 thoughts on “Spontaneous study visit

  • I’m doing Printmaking 2. On holiday to East Lothian a fortnight ago, I just made it to The Two Roberts on the very last day before it closed. Fantastic, inspiring and so moving how they supported each other and drained themselves completely to produce their art. I was moved almost to tears by Robert Colquhoun’s final prints. Like you I was struck by how inseparable painting and printmaking are, the one explores and feeds the other and as a result am now planning to do my two level three courses simultaneously. It was very encouraging to see that you had noticed the same thing.
    My current assignment is on Portraits (and my parallel project on Picasso) so I also found that the “heads” exhibition was excellent, so much variety and good to see a very good range of artists and methods represented. It’s on for quite a while so hope to see it again when I am back in Scotland in November .

  • Olivia, you made what could have been a disappointing day very interesting. I enjoyed The Two Roberts Exhibition, and the stop off to St Mary’s Cathedral, on route to the RSA Exhibition. There was an interesting mix of work at the RSA and your knowledge of the artists was an added bonus. Thank you for a very enjoyable day.

  • Glad you enjoyed it Anne- thank you for your contribution in terms of questions and comments. Stella, I also found Colquhoun’s monoprints very moving. It is such a simple, yet powerful technique. Have you ever tried printing onto a painting? You can use all sorts of things, like textured wallpaper, string, card. I sometimes put something textured, like corrugated cardboard, behind the canvas and roll paint on top, catching the hint of the grooves. Watch out, though- it can be very seductive. Only keep what is necessary to the piece of work.

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