Collecting Contemporary: Collections as Conversations

Timepieces (2014), Katie Paterson Part of the University of Edinburgh Art Collection. Installed in the Edinburgh College of Art Main Building.

Timepieces (2014), Katie Paterson
Part of the University of Edinburgh Art Collection. Installed in the Edinburgh College of Art Main Building.

It was good to attend the Collecting Contemporary event in the University of Edinburgh’s Playfair Library on 16th February 2016 which included a preview of the upcoming Collecting Contemporary website, and coincided with both the inaugural publication of Affiliate’s new imprint and the opening week of British Art Show 8, showing in the adjacent Talbot Rice Gallery, Inverleith House and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Continue reading

Time for research

"British Design: Tradition and Modernity after 1948" cover

“British Design” cover

A number of personal research projects of mine have culminated in publication this autumn.

British Design: Tradition and Modernity after 1948 marks the end of a project that began with my co-curation of the British Design: Innovation in the Modern Age exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2012.

The exhibition raised many questions about the particular relationship between place, time and space that characterises much of the UK’s design culture, and a conference during the exhibition’s run produced the chapters in this book. Continue reading

Design in Motion

Travelling Gallery (Image courtesy of V&A Dundee)

The Design in Motion travelling gallery (Image courtesy of V&A Dundee)

Like a scene from the Cliff Richard movie ‘Summer Holiday’, the V&A Dundee ‘Design in Motion’ bus pulled in to Edinburgh last week.

I took the opportunity to take a tour at its stop-over in George Street. In collaboration with the Travelling Gallery, the bus is showcasing the work of contemporary designers trained or based in Scotland who engage with the challenges of digital technology. Continue reading

Glamour and Espionage: the story of Brian Stonehouse

Brian Stonehouse

From flyer for the upcoming Brian Stonehouse exhibition at Abbott and Holder

On a visit to London last week I called in to the picture dealer Abbott and Holder in Museum Street. This is a long-standing haunt, celebrated for its stock of excellent British drawings, watercolours and paintings from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.

Conversations with the gallery’s director Philip Athill are always enlightening and on this visit he drew my attention to a forthcoming exhibition of the fashion illustrator Brian Stonehouse (1918-1998). Stonehouse’s elegant work for Vogue through the 1960s compares well with that of many of his better-known peers, but it is the backstory to his life that is truly fascinating. Continue reading

Masters Festival 2014

Masters Festival 2014

© Gareth Easton Photography

The Edinburgh College of Art Masters Festival is currently happening in the Sculpture Court and surrounding studios at Lauriston Place, as part of this year’s Edinburgh Art Festival. Continue reading

Mary & Elizabeth in Princes Street Gardens

Princes Street Gardens. Image by Bernt Rostad (, used under a Creative Commons license.

Princes Street Gardens. Image by Bernt Rostad (, used under a Creative Commons license.

Last night was the opening of the 2014 Edinburgh Art Festival, marked by a welcome dinner for participating artists from across the Commonwealth at the National Galleries of Scotland on the Mound.

As a prelude to the dinner, guests were invited to engage with Jacqueline Donachie’s intriguing installation ‘Mary and Elizabeth’ in Princes Street Gardens. Continue reading

Scottish Colourists and Miss Jean Brodie

People and Sails by JD Fergusson. Artwork in the public domain.

“People and Sails” by JD Fergusson. Artwork in the public domain.

I read two interesting articles in this weekend’s newspapers: in the Financial Times there was a review of the exhibition of JD Fergusson’s paintings at Chichester’s fantastic Pallant House Gallery, and in the Guardian there was a recollection by Penelope Jardine of her life in Italy with novelist Muriel Spark, written to coincide with a new collection of essays by Spark (The Golden Fleece), edited by Jardine. Reading these in tandem, in an Edinburgh made even more beautiful than usual by uncharacteristic unbroken sunshine, brought home to me the very particular character of a city that I have only called home for three years, but which is increasingly opening up its reticent personality to me in the manner of a slowly developing friendship. Continue reading

Poster Art of Modern China

Chinese Poster

Part of a Chinese poster from 1964, depicting a harvest scene.
The caption reads ‘Achieve great harvest every year’.

Last Friday morning I opened an international conference at ECA focusing on Poster Art of Modern China and coinciding with the continuing exhibition on the same theme in Chambers Street. Continue reading



This week saw the opening of several exhibitions that are part of the GENERATION programme, celebrating 25 years of Contemporary Art in Scotland and coinciding with the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. As ever, Edinburgh lined all its ducks up at the same time and on Thursday evening the city’s artists’ community enjoyed a round of buzzing private views in its independent and national galleries. Continue reading