My generation: Contemporary art celebrated

Scotland’s haul of Turner Prize winners and nominees is proof that we punch well above our weight in the field of contemporary art. But why? A groundbreaking series of exhibitions across the country in summer 2014 aims to tell the whole story.

Artists are important, says Ross Sinclair, because “they show us the world not as it is, but as it could be”. Sinclair, who recently won a Glen­fiddoch Spirit of Scotland award for a project that saw him flooding Edinburgh with more than 45,000 works of art, is just one of over a hundred artists whose work will be on show in 60 galleries and venues throughout Scotland in 2014 under the banner of Generation.
All the Generation artists – painters, sculptors, print­makers and video artists – will be inviting us into their worlds this year. From Shetland to Berwick-upon-Tweed, re-imaginings of artworks and presentations of new work will come together to celebrate 25 years of contemporary art in Scotland. Its reach enfolds artists as established as Alison Watt and Douglas Gordon as well as many younger artists at the start of their careers.
Regardless of how you feel about contempo­rary art in all its mani­fes­tations, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see why Scotland has developed an international reputation on the world contemporary art stage.
As Generation associate curator Katrina Brown puts it: “Every year, people seem to be amazed that we have a Scottish artist on the Turner Prize shortlist. As I always say, ‘We’re much better at contemporary art than we are at football, but football gets more coverage.’”
Generation’s tentacles will spread into a network of arts venues, many of which will benefit greatly from the exposure. The work of Turner Prize winner Douglas Gordon, for example, will be seen for the first time in the north of Scotland, in Caithness, while the Travelling Gallery bus will take the work of various artists working in a range of media on a journey around the country.
In this unique partnership between Glasgow Life, the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) and Creative Scotland, under the broad banner of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Pro­gramme, it is hoped that as visitors flock to the Common­wealth Games, they will be able to enjoy our cutting-edge art at the same time. It is also a way for home-based art lovers to discover why we have developed an international reputation in this field.
According to Simon Groom, director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (SNGMA), nothing like this ever been attempted at a national level before. “We are har­nessing a network of galleries across the country with Generation. Crucially, it’s not just about the artists; it’s about the support structure across Scotland that has allowed this complex story of the last 25 years to unfold. It’s good to highlight that. It’s not just about Glasgow. It’s a partnership.”

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article on pages 116-120, issue 93.

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Words Jan Patience