A graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, artist and curator Siobhan McLaughlin is best known for curating last year’s exhibition Alan Davie: Beginning of a Far Off World at Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh, despite having no professional experience. Initially planned as a two-week exhibition on the Viewing Balcony, it became a major display in the main exhibition area.
This summer Siobhan will curate Scottish Landscapes: A New Generation, also for Dovecot, bringing together ten recent graduates who work with landscape. She is a landscape artist herself and a past winner of the Society of Scottish Artists Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Award.
During lockdown she was a recipient of a film commission from the Tate’s British Art Network and at the end of 2022 she spent a month at Newlyn in Cornwall on the From One to Another Cornwall Exchange Residency organised by Visual Art Scotland. In March she travels to Cromarty on a Royal Scottish Academy Residency for Scotland Award.
Siobhan says her work is inspired by walking and looking. After a car accident in 2017, it was over a year before she could walk in the landscape again. She says: “That was when I started really paying attention to the nuances of the landscape and how I could evoke that in my paintings.”
Shortly after graduating from Glasgow School of Art in 2019, artist Charlie Yates was taken on by Edinburgh’s Open Eye Gallery – at 23, the youngest artist they have ever represented. Two years later, he won the £5,000 first prize in the Aon Community Art Awards organised by the financial services firm. In May 2022, he had a solo exhibition of over 40 paintings at Aberfeldy’s Watermill Gallery and will have a solo show at the Open Eye Gallery in July.
Charlie paints on wood and aluminium, using a foot-long brush to cover the surface with colour, then wiping paint off and building up images in layers. Inspired by memories, travel and old family photographs, he explains: “My family has always been a huge part of my practice. I think when something becomes more personal, it is always more interesting.”
A new body of work is inspired by a recent trip to Japan. He says: “I want it to be more about how I feel about Japan, what I can remember, what was important for me. I’m moving towards a more abstract style of painting, more to do with memory. It’s not necessarily about people understanding my work, it’s to do with the feelings it evokes.”
Originally from Shetland, curator Helen Nisbet studied History of Art at Glasgow University. Her curatorial career began working with artists in their studios, then holding various gallery posts, including curating the artist-run space Cubitt in London and a period at The Lighthouse in Glasgow, where she worked on the retrospective of the Gillespie, Kidd & Coia architectural form. In 2018 she became artistic director of Art Night, developing it into a national contemporary art festival, and she is on the jury for the 2023 Turner Prize.
Art Night presents work by artists in everyday civic spaces such as pubs, car parks, high streets and cinemas. The festival’s first full iteration outside London will take place in Dundee in June. Helen says that programming outside traditional gallery spaces has always been important in her practice. She explains: “I really like the democracy and scope for trying new things for both audiences and artists, and it’s been an inspiration getting to know the art and culture scene in Dundee.”
Textile designer Eve Campbell says her dream of having her own print studio started on her tenth birthday, when she was given her first screen for screenprinting. She opened her studio at Tighnabruiach in Argyll in 2018 shortly after graduating from Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Textile Design.
Inspired by the colours, shapes and patterns of nature on Scotland’s west coast, she makes one-off linen wall-hangings in bold prints as well as designing printed fabrics for clothing and interiors.
In 2018 Eve won the John Lewis Design and Innovation Award and the following year worked with fashion retailer White Stuff on a 14-piece Autumn/Winter womenswear collection as part of their Nurturing Talent scheme. This year she has been selected by Craft Scotland for the international showcase Collect 2023 in London in March.
Eve always begins a new project with a sketchbook full of drawings. She says: “My work becomes abstract through a process of drawing, collage and print. I capture and refine the shapes and add large patterns and bold colours.”
Jewellery maker Ailsa Ritchie reckons her fascination with detail marked her out as a jeweller from early on. She says: “I tend to be most interested in the small details of my work. There’s so much to see when you take a closer look at the world around you.”
A graduate in Jewellery and Silversmithing from Glasgow School of Art, Ailsa runs her own studio at the Briggait in Glasgow. In 2020-21, she was one of seven makers selected for the Compass Emerging Makers Project with Craft Scotland.
Using mainly recycled metals and gem stones, she creates original pieces inspired by the natural world. She explains: “I have always been fascinated by insects. My design work starts with reference drawings of them and their habitats, then I choose small details to influence my pieces.”
During the pandemic, when fairs and craft markets were cancelled, Ailsa focused on custom pieces made to commission. She says: “This was a bit of a blessing in disguise, as it made me realise how much I loved that part of my work. This year I’m planning to make more wedding and engagement rings, bringing my own twist to traditional styles.”
In 2021 artist Andrew Black won the Margaret Tait Award, a £15,000 film commission from LUX Scotland. Funded by the National Lottery, it is Scotland’s most prestigious prize for artists working with moving images.
The resulting film, On Clogger Lane, will be premiered at Glasgow Film Theatre on February 21. A portrait of a North Yorkshire valley dominated by the giant domes of a satellite surveillance station, it incorporates conversations with farmers, antiquarians, Quakers and Communists.
Andrew describes his practice as inspired by “queer thought around place, memory and body”. He showed work at the Glasgow International Festival in 2021 and the same year worked on Dàn Fianais (Protest Poem), a film portrait of Skye and Lochalsh commissioned by Skye-based Atlas Arts.
He says: “Producing On Clogger Lane has allowed me to revisit my relationship with a place I have known since childhood. Returning to my former home turf during the ongoing Tory apocalypse has been a complex experience, but it has allowed me to collaborate with family and friends and establish new connections with custodians of local heritage, activists, dissenters and protestors.”
Artist Saoirse Amira Anis will have a major solo exhibition at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) in May – at 25, one of the youngest artists the gallery has commissioned. She works across sculpture, installation, writing, film-making, photography and performance, exploring elements of her Scottish-Morroccan heritage and her experiences as a black woman.
Her first major commission was in 2020, when she made work for Jupiter Artland, the sculpture park on the outskirts of Edinburgh, as part of the Black Lives Matter Mural Trail. Last year she was selected for the Platform programme for emerging artists at the Edinburgh Art Festival and had her first solo exhibition, For No Other Reason Than Joy, at Cample Line near Thornhill in Dumfries and Galloway. She also curated Miss(ing) Information for Perth Museum and Art Gallery.
Saoirse says: “My work is fed by lots of different things. I pull together history, folklore, things that interest me on television, books, stories and music. Everything I engage with has the potential to find its way into something that I’m making.”
Her DCA show will draw on North African, Scottish, Saharan and Hebridean folklore. She explains: “I want to reframe evil characters as (examples of) feminine power. I want to celebrate disobedience and in the process do something to assuage my own anger.”