• Published on: 17th January 2018
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12 JANUARY 2018


OPEN – SSA & VAS Together 2018, is a new exhibition opening to the public on 29th January 2018 at Edinburgh’s Royal Scottish Academy.

Two of Scotland’s leading arts organisations, the Society of Scottish Artists and Visual Arts Scotland have joined forces for the first time to present an ambitious collaborative exhibition celebrating the best in contemporary and applied art.

Featuring established artists and makers based in Scotland and internationally and new artists, the exhibition is a unique survey of the diversity of contemporary and applied art being created today.

Set alongside a number of curated elements, the exhibition will present works by over 166 artists selected from an open call that attracted over 2000 artwork submissions from across the world.

The exhibition includes


The premiere of international artist and filmmaker Sven Werner’s newly commissioned multimedia work. Observer Cinema tells the story of a man who, to his own surprise, finds he has a peculiar gift: he is able to recognise and inhabit the blind angles of people’s attention so that he becomes to all eyes invisible. Presented in partnership with the Society of Scottish Artists, Werner created this multimedia piece for New Media Scotland at the Alt-w LAB.


Celebrating and challenging the common perceptions of contemporary glass, Visual Art Scotland partner with Craft Scotland in a dramatic presentation of multidisciplinary works from Scottish makers Alan Horsley, Carrie Fertig and Jeff Zimmer.


This year’s Graduate Award showcase presents ten recent graduates from Scotland’s five main art schools.  Including brutalist sculptures by William Braithwaite, playful jewellery by ​Isla Christie, an installation by ​Liz Crichton, product design by ​Natasha Duda, Rebecca Heselton’s floating village, flatpack toaster designed by Kasey Hou, painting by Annie Mulvey, innovative knitting by Jean Oberlander, printmaking and drawing by Calum Wallis.


Làrach (meaning a mark, impression, site, print or footprint) features artists who live and work on Lewis and Harris. Each exploring how the unique landscape and a strong sense of place are deeply interconnected with the language, identity, culture and history of the islands. Works by former Buzzcocks’ drummer John Maher, Anne Campbell, Fiona Rennie, Moira Maclean, Jon Macleod, Beka Globe, Alex Boyd, Steve Dilworth are presented alongside Jessica Danz’s re-scored early Icelandic documentary film Ísland í lifandi myndum. Làrach is a collaboration between the Society of Scottish Artists and An Lanntair arts centre, Stornoway.


Encouraging transformation and innovation in the practices of mid-career makers, the award offers £5000 for a maker, plus an additional £2000 for a mentor. On show, work by four shortlisted makers: Amanda Baron, Ffion Blench, Vicky Higginson and Jo Pudelko.


ANDRÉANNE GAGNON is a photographer and printmaker from Quebec. Her work focuses on the boundaries and intersections between printmaking, photography and drawing. The SSA Engramme exchange is an ongoing partnership between Society of Scottish Artists and Engramme, an organisation in Eastern Canada promoting contemporary printmaking.

Andrew Mackenzie, President of Visual Arts Scotland said,

“For the first time in our long histories we have joined forces, combining our expertise and experience, to create one cohesive and carefully conceived show, which we believe to be the very best in contemporary art and design.

“At the core of OPEN 2018 is the joint open selection. We were overwhelmed by the volume and quality of the submissions, and we’d like to thank everyone who submitted work. As well as this, however, we have preserved within the exhibition certain projects, partnerships and collaborations unique to each society.”

Sharon Quigley, President of the Society of Scottish Artists added,

“Both Societies have an ongoing desire to promote artists at any stage of their career. We are delighted to offer our Graduate Award to ten up and coming artists and to show new artists alongside those who are established as being outstanding in their fields such as Sven Wener, Carrie Fertig and Jessica Danz.

“Installation, video and performance art, design, glass, ceramics and jewellery are set alongside a strong core of painting, printmaking, sculpture. The result is a show is dynamic, forward thinking, courageous and beautifully presented.”

Society of Scottish Artists and Visual Arts Scotland are artist-led organisations whose Annual Exhibitions, traditionally held at the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, attract many thousands of visitors.

OPEN is the Society of Scottish Artists’ 120th Annual Exhibition and Visual Arts Scotland’s 94th Annual Exhibition.

OPEN – SSA & VAS Together 2018, 29th January – 8th March 2018 at the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh.


A collaboration between the Society of Scottish Artists and An Lanntair arts centre, Stornoway, Làrach (meaning a mark, impression, site, print or footprint) features artists who live and work on Lewis and Harris. The selection places a particular emphasis on photography, reflecting the current strength of work in this medium in this part of the Hebrides. The artists explore how the unique landscape and strong sense of place are deeply interconnected with the language, identity, culture and history of the islands.

Anne Campbell grew up in Bragar on the westside of Lewis. Her map explores a landscape of imagination, a dense web of Gaelic place names, stories and songs – language which is also expressed within Fiona Rennie’s diptych photographs of Gaelic writers. John Maher’s images of abandoned decaying interiors are emblematic of loss and de-population in the islands. Moira MacLean raids these abandoned crofts, her installation exploring alcoholism and tension in a household where punishment and religion were inextricable.

Jon Macleod, Beka Globe and Alex Boyd develop experimental landscape photography. Jon Macleod presents images taken by Solargraph cameras set up in locations across the island to capture the passage of the sun over a 6 month period – a kind of slow CCTV capturing the particular extremes of light and dark in the islands. Alex Boyd uses an antique field camera and wet-plate collodion process to create his tintype landscape photographs.  Beka Globe presents ‘portraits’ of flowers unique to the Hebridean machair and Andrea Ingram, playing with light and movement, depicts and abstracts from aspects of everyday life.

The nucleus of Steve Dilworth’s exquisitely crafted objects is the primal energy of raw, once living material, with no separation between the physical and the metaphysical.  The selection is completed by Jessica Danz, commissioned by An Lanntair in collaboration with the Icelandic film archive to re-score an early Icelandic documentary film. Ísland í lifandi myndum could have been shot in the Outer Hebrides, such is the relationship between the two locations. Rather than being at the edge, the work reflects the notion of the art of the Hebrides as being at the centre of an arc which reaches north through the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Scandinavia.