The art of drawing in Scotland is being celebrated in a new three-month exhibition that opens at St Andrews Museum in St Andrews on November 9 before embarking on a tour.
Lines from Scotland features work by three generations of painters, sculptors, textile designers, musicians and makers including rarely seen works by Elizabeth Blackadder, Andy Goldsworthy, Dorothy Hogg, David Shrigley and Inge Thomson among others.
In all 23 artists have contributed to the exhibition which features a range of lesser known works by celebrated artists including Wilhemina Barns Graham and Ian Hamilton Finlay.
Curator Amanda Game, who has collaborated with Diana Sykes of Fife Contemporary, said the exhibition invites visitors to appreciate the ‘modesty and mastery’ in selected works where hand-drawn pencil and ink lines share space with lines from the etching press, and lines incised into ceramic surfaces. Also featured are lines modelled in wire or woven as threads with lines animated, scored as music and shaped into words and poems.
Amanda said: “Acts of looking and the practice of close observation through drawing lies at the heart of the work in Lines from Scotland and has guided the selection of the 23 exhibitors included.
“In this exhibition I wanted to explore how drawing continues to be central to the communication and development of some very different ideas here in Scotland, and how this overtly very modest act can create a particular intimacy between artist and viewer that encourages all of us to look more closely at the world around us.
“I am very grateful to all the artists and designers, or their representatives, for taking the time to work with myself and Diana to select and loan works for the exhibition.”
Diana Sykes added: “I have been fascinated to discover the many connections across very different artists and practices selected by Amanda and I am excited to see further conversations between the works once they are physically brought together. Lines from Scotland demonstrates that the fundamental human need to make marks to work out and express ideas crosses media and time.”
Lines from Scotland conjures atmosphere and detail in the Scottish landscape in works such as Wilhelmina Barns Graham’s Vortex, and Frances Walker’s Storm Beach Fank as well as urban responses from Carol Rhodes and Norma Starszakowna.
Personal portraits by Elizabeth Blackadder and John Houston display human intimacy while the exhibition gets under the surface of things in Dorothy Hogg’s silver artery brooches and Lucy Skaer’s layered chine collé prints.
Exploring new contexts for drawing, David Shrigley’s Life Behind the Scenes animation commissioned by Pringle of Scotland is on show alongside the work of Susie Leiper whose calligraphy of lines by poet Sorley MacLean appear on the Royal Bank of Scotland’s new £5 note.
Andy Goldsworthy’s My Arm Black Mud Dumfriesshire, Scotland, April 2012, reflects one of the common threads of the exhibition: each exhibitor’s attentive immersion in and close observation of specific human and material environments.
Many observations include studies of plants from images by Rory McEwen and Lizzie Sanders to Frances Priest’s designs for door furniture created during the ‘Patterns of Flora’ project for Raasay House, Michael Lloyds chased beakers or Hanna Tuulikki’s hand drawn musical score transposing the form of Viola Tricolor into music for into music for High Heels & Horsehair’s violin and cello.
Further collaboration with music comes from textile artist Deirdre Nelson working with Inge Thomson and Shetland’s culture.
The origin of writing as a form of hand drawn line in everyday practical life is emphasised in works such as Ian Hamilton Finlay’s BCK75 (PROEM) which appears in the form of a drawing, screenprint and tapestry that collectively reflect the inscriptions found on Scottish fishing boats.
Hamilton Finlay’s friend and fellow poet Thomas A Clark suggests in a series of simple cards, produced with artist Laurie Clark, ‘In small things delight is intense’.
All drawings suggest the joy of looking more closely at the world around us.
*Lines from Scotland runs at St Andrews Museum, St Andrews from November 9 to February 22, 2020. It then tours to Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries (March 7 to May 10) and Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries (May 16 to July 25).