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I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on janpatience@me.com (All work © Jan Patience)

Sunday, 9 May 2010

RSA Annual Exhibition - Published in The Herald's Arts Supplement, 8-5-10

Clockwise from left, Kate Downie goes grafitti on the white walls of the RSA, Ross Brown's St Peter's Seminary St Peter's Seminary - Vault (2010)and Calum MacKenzie's Tableau Vivant Gipsy (2010)

The Royal Scottish Academy
The Mound, Edinburgh
0131 225 6671
Mon-Sat, 10am– 5pm, Sun, 12pm–5pm (Admission £4/£2 concession)
From today until June 23

The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) is an august Edinburgh-based organisation with its roots stretching back to 1826. Back in the day, it was set up by 11 artists with five laudable aims in mind; ‘to have an Annual Exhibition open to all artists of merit, to open an Academy of Fine Arts to instruct students free of expense, to open a Library devoted to the Fine Arts, to provide charitable funds for the benefit of less fortunate artists and to admit Honorary Members eminent by their talents’.
Although it has changed over the years, the essential aims remain the same. To outsiders, its seemingly arcane structure (artists can be elected academician, associate or honorary member) can come across as cabal-like and it must be one of the few arts organisations in Scotland to send out an invitation stating the dress code to be ‘black tie & medals’.
Odd anachronisms aside, that it still exists as a financially independent body which doesn’t rely on government handouts and continues to fight the corner of artists, is cause for celebration in itself.
This year, a spring clean is taking place, with the RSA sweeping a metaphorical broom through the classical corridors of the Playfair Building to usher in a radical change of structure to its annual summer exhibition.
The main change is that the policy of open submission has been discontinued and replaced by a curated exhibition of invited works on a chosen theme from both RSA members and non-members. This theme will change from year to year and members not involved in the curated section of the exhibition in a given year will continue to exhibit as members. The policy of having an open submission exhibition is to be maintained by mounting an additional exhibition of smaller works in the RSA Lower Galleries every autumn.
Curated by Ian McCulloch RSA, who has adopted the theme Expressive Art/Social Involvement for the invited work in the exhibition, the majority of the works in the 184th Annual Exhibition have a strongly figurative bias underpinned by what he calls ‘a sense of drawing’. In the work on display, there is a significant use of the emerging medium of digital printing allied to photography.
McCulloch’s thinking behind this theme is to bring together artists producing ‘artwork that seeks to engage the emotions and an aesthetic response while at the same time recognising that art can also have an ideological and/or psychological content and objective.’.
“It was only when I began to develop this idea by visiting studios and viewing work,” he adds, “that I gained a new insight into how I had come to settle on this theme, and how important this approach has always been in my own work.”
McCulloch, a founder member of the groundbreaking New Glasgow Group in the late 1950s (which went on to become simply The Glasgow Group), has invited RSA members and honorary academicians: John Byrne, Joyce Cairns, Grant Clifford, Calum Colvin, Gareth Fisher, Ronald Forbes, Gordon Munro, Keith Rand, Kate Downie, Beth Fisher, Neil MacPherson and Arthur Watson to exhibit alongside invited non-members, Sean Ambrose, Ross Brown, John Goto, Lys Hansen, Margaret Hunter, Paola McClure, Ron O’Donnell, Douglas Thomson, John Taylor, James Tweedie, Callum Mackenzie. The architect, Gordon Benson, has also been invited to take part and there are works on show from the late Craigie Aitchison and James Robertson, who both died in the last year.
The exhibition will also present new works by two recent RSA award winners. Philip Braham has been commissioned to make new photographic works for the exhibition as part of the RSA Morton Award and Martin Hill, a graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art (also part of the recent RSA New Contemporaries exhibition) is also exhibiting new work as part of the RSA Barns-Graham Travel Award.
The exhibition showcases painting, sculpture, film making, photography, printmaking, architecture and installation across all 12 RSA Upper & Lower Galleries.

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