There's a long history of internationally acclaimed Scottish artists that stretches back hundreds of years. From the portraits of Henry Raeburn, to the distinctive designs of the Glasgow Boys and the success of contemporary Scottish artists such as Jack Vettriano and Peter Howson.
In recent years, the Glasgow School of Art has produced a generation of international contemporary artists that have scooped Britain's top visual art award, the Turner Prize. In fact, 30% of Turner Prize nominees since 2005 have studied at this prestigious institute.
Exciting Art Spaces
There are a number of exciting galleries and studio spaces dotted throughout the country which serve as breeding grounds for new Scottish artistic talent.
Trongate 103 in Glasgow's Merchant City provides a space that is accessible to all as a place to see art, make art and enjoy being creative.
The Glue Factory is an independently run, industrial space that runs exhibitions and hosts print and recording studios.
Edinburgh Palette, established in 2008, is also an innovative gallery and studio space which is home to over 300 of the most promising up and coming Scottish artists.
WASPS Studios is a charity that provides affordable studios to support artists and arts organisations. They currently house 800 artists and 25 arts organisations at 18 buildings across Scotland.
The Pier Arts Centre in Orkney was established in 1979 as a home for collection of British fine art donated by the author, peace activist and philanthropist Margaret Gardiner (1904 – 2005). The permanent Collection includes works by major 20th Century artists Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Alfred Wallis, amongst others.
Renowned Scottish artists are as diverse as their disciplines. Here are just a few of our favourite national treasures:
Regarded as one of the most significant artists of the 19th century, Edinburgh-born portrait artist Sir Henry Raeburn created the now iconic work, The Skating Minister, which hangs in the Scottish National Gallery. The painting is said to have inspired the window design of the Scottish Parliament building, situated at the bottom of Edinburgh's historic Royal Mile.
John Bellany produced an extraordinary body of work, including large scale paintings using his trademark mythological-figurative style, often focusing on whimsical half-human half-animal forms, as well as many acclaimed watercolour portraits. Bellany's work now hangs in prestigious museums and galleries all over the world, including the National Galleries of Scotland, Tate Britain and in New York, the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Painter John Byrne was born in 1940 and brought up in Ferguslie Park housing scheme in Paisley. He was accepted by Glasgow School of Art but after graduating had to take a dead-end job at a carpet factory to make ends meet. Byrne re-invented himself as 'Patrick', a supposedly self-taught painter of faux-naif images. 'Patrick' was a great success and his pictures appeared on record covers for The Beatles, among others. Despite the lure of international fame and fortune, John Byrne continues to live in his native Scotland.
Entirely self-taught, Jack Vettriano, is a Fife-born miner's son, who followed his father into the pit until he was given a paintbox on his 21st birthday and began copying the Impressionists and Old Masters. The country's most commercially successful artist, his most famous picture is 'The Singing Butler' (prints of which outsell those by Van Gogh or Monet) – Sothebys sold the original for a record £748,000 in Edinburgh. Never fully accepted by the art establishment, celebrities such as Jack Nicholson and Terence Conran are among his collectors. Vettriano's self portrait, The Weight, is on display at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
Based in Glasgow, Maclean is an Edinburgh College of Art graduate. Over the last 10 years Rachel Maclean has shown widely in the UK and internationally. Her artwork is both seductive and disturbing. It sucks the viewer into oversaturated candy coloured worlds and repels them with unsettling themes and narratives. Until recently she has been the only actor in her creations, exploring issues of identity, class, nationalism and gender, whilst referencing narrative structures from pop culture and fairy-tales. In 2017 she represented Scotland at the 57th Venice Biennale.
Peter Howson is a central figure in the New Glasgow Boys movement of the 1980s, a collection of like-minded painters which includes Ken Currie and Stephen Campbell. An ex-steel fitter, Howson began training at Glasgow School of Art. Working as a nightclub bouncer, he became intrigued by this shadowy, violent world. He now has a star-studded list of devotees including Madonna, David Bowie and Bob Dylan. He was awarded an OBE in 2009 for his services to visual arts.
Alberta Whittle's creative practice is motivated by the desire to manifest self-compassion and collective care as key methods in battling anti-blackness. She choreographs interactive installations, using film, sculpture and performance as site-specific artworks in public and private spaces. Her work has been acquired for the UK National Collections, The Scottish National Gallery Collections, Glasgow Museums Collections and The Contemporary Art Research Collection at Edinburgh College of Art and she will be representing Scotland at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022.