The gallery was privileged to present the third stage in this touring exhibition of Scotland’s Voices, the most significant composite portrait to be painted in Scotland and Europe since the artist’s Poets’ Pub (1980, National Galleries of Scotland). Poet’s Pub depicted an imaginary gathering of some of Scotland’s most renowned poets of the twentieth century. This major new work focuses on Scotland’s traditional singers and musicians.
It the Gallery’s LANDMARKS exhibition it was presented in the context of a selection of preliminary sketches and drawings, together with Ruth Nicol’s celebrated landscape paintings and the evocative words of poet Alan Riach. LANDMARKS offered an opportunity to see together the work of three of Scotland’s artists who have shaped the way we see ourselves and our culture. The exhibition was accompanied by a series of Saturday afternoon artist talks, books and catalogues. Over 1,000 visitors enjoyed this historic exhibition.
Alan Riach is Professor of Scottish Literature at Glasgow University, an internationally renowned academic on the work and life of Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid and indefatigable advocate for the study and appreciation of Scottish literature worldwide (including in India, North America, across Europe). Wide-ranging dialogues between Alan Riach and Alexander Moffat have been published in Luath Press’s ‘Arts of Resistance’ and ‘Arts of Independence.’ Alan’s poems featured in Landmarks evoke our own personal inner images, a perfect complement to the imagery we can share, of the two visual artists’ works.
Ruth Nicol’s Scottish landscapes are completely refreshing in their originality and depth. Ruth incorporates in her work signs of how our vision of land has been shaped by our distinctive homes, signs of Scottish industry past and present, our distinctive architecture and European architectural achievements in Scotland. She uses contemporary perspectives, drawing our attention to the fact we often experience the landscape fleetingly, from our roads, motorways, city vantage points. Her ‘Holyrood, Robert Garioch (2014)’ is held in the Scottish Parliament collection and is a fine example of her Three Rivers Meet series of paintings about the influence of the environment, built or natural, on Scotland’s writers: an important series of works, depicting the landscapes that shaped the work of each of the writers depicted in Alexander Moffat’s Poets Pub (1980, National Portrait Gallery). I’m delighted to show some of these works in this exhibition. Her serious, realistic treatment of the rich depths of Scottish culture and history, too often overlooked in landscape painting today, has led to her artwork being celebrated by all who love Scotland and the best of landscape art.
Alexander (Sandy) Moffat OBE RSA is one of the 20th and 21st centuries’ foremost portrait painters. He was born in Dunfermline, Fife and grew up in the Fife villages of West Wemyss and Lumphinanns, making this exhibition in St Andrews a homecoming of which Fife can be extremely proud. Alexander Moffat was elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 2004 and awarded an OBE for services to the arts in 2006.
Scotland’s Voices a visionary record of a nation being created and sustained through music and song, in unbroken continuity between past, present and future culture. It was an enormous pleasure having Scotland’s Voices and the Landmarks exhibition in my gallery.
Scotland’s Voices will be at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh throughout the International Festival this August.