Last week I introduced the key concepts of nationalism, identity, and heritage, which underpin this lecture series. We looked at how our image of Scotland is rooted in history and myth. And I began to introduce some of the artists and artist-run initiatives, which will reoccur throughout this course.This week we turn our focus towards the question of patronage and Scottish art.Art patronage isusually associated with the provision of funds, support or protection for the arts.I provide an overview of arts patronage in the UK. There is a critique of the Scottish Arts Council, an organization that, until its dissolution and replacement by Creative Scotland, was the main distributor for funding for the arts in Scotland In 2010 Creative Scotland took over the functions and resources of Scottish Screen and the Scottish Arts Council, it also has a wider set of responsibilities for developing the sector.
Timely debateArts organisations are facing big challenges as a result of austerity measures from central and local governments.Culture Secretary Maria Miller has said “The arts world must make the case for public funding by focusing on its economic, not artistic, value.“When times are tough and money is tight, our focus must be on culture's economic impact."
The debate on the whole question of Scottish identity goes right back to the Union of 1707. When Scotland gave up its political independence and joined with England. The Union was a direct result of the Darien Disaster. What began as an ambitious scheme to establish a Scottish colony in Panama, but ended in loss of life and financial ruin. To give you a potted history then, Scotland at the end of the Seventeenth Century was in a state of crisis. Decades of warfare had combined with seven years of famine to drive people from their homesteads and choke the cities with homeless vagrants, starving to death in the streets. The nation's trade had been crippled by England's continual wars against continental Europe, and its home-grown industries were withering on the vine. Something had to be done. Some way had to be found to revive Scotland's economic fortunes before it got swallowed up by its much richer neighbour south of the border. The potential of Darien as the location of a trading colony was identified because trade with the incredibly lucrative Pacific markets was a hugely expensive business, since all merchant ships had to make the hazardous trip round Cape Horn on the southern tip of South America. This added months to the journey, and the ships involved had a high chance of being lost at sea. If a colony could be established at Darien, goods could be ferried from the Pacific across Panama and loaded onto ships in the Atlantic from there, speeding up Pacific trade and making it much more reliable. Moreover, the Scottish directors of the Darien Venture could charge a nice fat commission for the privilege. Never mind that the Spanish claimed control of that part of Panama: no-one ever made a profit without stepping on some toes.
First expedition 1698However, they soon found that the land was unsuited to agriculture and the Indians were uninterested in the trinkets they had brought with them. Spring 1699 brought torrential rain, and with it disease. By March 1699, more than 200 colonists had died, and the death rate had risen to over 10 a day. To make matters worse, the ships sent out to trade for supplies returned with news that all English ships and colonies were forbidden to trade with the Scots by order of the King. The Darien Venture was a complete disaster for Scotland. The blow to Scottish morale was incalculable. It was an economic disaster too. The company had lost over £232,884, made up of the life savings of many of the Scottish people. Scotland was now completely incapable of going it alone. Just 7 years after the failure at Darien, it was forced to concede to the Act of Union, joining Scotland with England as the junior partner in the united kingdom of Great Britain. As part of the deal, England paid off Scotland's debts with the 'Equivalent', a sum of £398,000, most of which went to cover the Company of Scotland's losses. The institution established to administer this money eventually became the Royal Bank of Scotland. No amount of money could make up for the nation's sense of betrayal, however. Anthony Schrag delivered a 45-minute lecture on the Highland Clearances to a flock of sheep to stimulate fresh debate on the historic events. His lecture in a field on a farm in Sutherland was filmed so it could be viewed by people living in and near the Strath of Kildonan. The strath was cleared of families 200 years ago to make way for large-scale sheep production.
Many Scots believed that their chance of independence had been deliberately sabotaged by the English, and the resentment this fostered played no small part in the Jacobite rebellions which were to plague the Union.
Fast forward to the start of the 19c.Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) in Edinburgh was established in 1826. It was important because Scotland had lost its national sovereignty with the Union of the Parliaments in 1707 and any building that gave focus to national identity was highly valued. The RSA gave its members a sense of social status but also a voice in the nation’s cultural affairs. Another important function of the Academy was as an educational institution for the training of students. Since the late 19th century the RSA has shed its educational responsibility to the four regional art schools in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. In terms of patronage in Scotland, an important function of the RSA has been to exhibit annually the work of its members and selected practicing artists from all over the country. In many cases it was the only opportunity that some artists had to present their work to the viewing public, and, as such, was an important event in the Scottish art calendar. However, through the 19th century resentment towards the RSA began to grow, as it was felt by many that it merely catered for the art establishment in Edinburgh. Other towns and cities, especially Glasgow began to set up their own independent exhibition societies. The trend towards greater decentralisation encouraged patronage on a local scale, as well as establishing numerous civic art galleries which are still important exhibition venues and public purchasers of Scottish art.
Jupiter Artland is an example of 21st century private arts patronage.Commissions installed include two huge land forms from Charles Jencks and works from Iain Hamilton Finlay, Cornelia Parker, Antony Gormley, Marc Quinn, AnishKapoor , Andy Goldsworthy, Peter Liversidge, Alec Finlay and Laura Ford, and Nathan Coley.Private art collectors have always been the major patrons of art, and public museums have always been dependent on the collectors for loans and bequests. The recent successful partnership between Antony D’Offay, the National Galleries of Scotland and the Tate has resulted in the national programme of contemporary art Artists Rooms. But many other collections remain in private hands.
However, in Scotland a high proportion of art produced is geared to address, both through scale and subject, a public audience rather than a private patron. It also has to be noted that Scottish art has historically not been supported by the private collector, who has preferred to buy historical rather than contemporary art. This lack of support has contributed to the steady exodus of many of Scotland’s artists moving to the cultural art centres of London, NY, etc, Artists leaving Scotland is indicative of the financial and cultural differences a small country like Scotland faces and reflects the continuing problem of sustaining a vibrant, indigenous visual arts community. On the other hand, it has meant that the art of those exile Scots has been enriched by contact with the leading international art movements.Public patronage is an important source of support for Scottish artists, e.g. works in public collections.Commissioned by The Fruitmarket Gallery for the Edinburgh Art Festival 2011, Work No. 1059 is a major public artwork by Turner Prize winning artist Martin Creed for the historic Scotsman Steps.
The roots of public patronage in the artsThe inception of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA) in 1939laid the foundations for the modern relationship between the government and the arts.Over the next six decades, the pendulum swung back and forth between these ideas of what the Arts Council should accomplish. Should funding be given to promote access and increase participation in the arts? Should decisions be made centrally, from London, or should the regions have more control?Scotland is a nation with its own distinctive history of regional arts development. Since 1947, with the establishment of the Arts Council of Great Britain’s Scottish Committee, the forerunner of the Scottish Arts Council, Scotland has experienced considerable autonomy over art’s policy. The Scottish Arts Council was formed in 1994 following a restructuring of the Arts Council of Great Britain, but had existed as an autonomous body since a royal charter of 1967.
Moffat, trained in painting at eca, Director of The New 57 Gallery, from 1979 teaching painting at GSA, becoming Senior Lecturer until his retirement in 2005.He is one example of how an artists has sought to reconcile the politics of the Left with the art of the avant-garde.MacDiarmid, like Moffat, saw himself as both part of the tradition of European Radicalism as well as an exponent of the living traditions of Scottish culture. It was under his tutelage that many of the significant artists from Glasgow came to prominence. Radical, in that they wish to change people’s attitudes to a wide range of different concerns, they are not iconoclastic avant-gardeists who desire to obliterate the past.
This left Scotland better off, but it created what has repeatedly been called a schizophrenic situation for the Scots whose hearts might be in the Highlands, while the rest of their bodies were controlled from London.This cultural or national schizophrenia is problematic because it posits an unbridgeable gap between an authentic but obsolescent Scottish culture and an attractive but artificial Englishness.
Scots belle peinture school of modern Scottish painting was steeped in rural nostalgia, presenting a one-sided, distorted view of life in Scotland. These artists were a symptom of the continuing crisis in Scottish identity in the first half of the 20th century.‘Politically correct’ paintings that were completely safe to be placed on the walls of any middle class drawing-room.The Scottish Colourists and the later Edinburgh School of W.G. Gillies, William McTaggart and John Maxwell
Art as a vehicle for critical engagement with contemporary Scottish experience.Hugh MacDiarmid for instance spoke out against vacuous, unrepresentative examples of Scotland such as the belle peinture school of Scottish painting, with its stranglehold on the RSA, the Scottish art schools and the very limited commercial gallery system. Yet it continued to dominate and stultify the art scene in Scotland for most of the 20th century until the 1960s.
This weeks reading dealt with the Alternative Space Movement‘Over the past century, art dealers have come to dominate the distribution of art and the formation of taste. But…[since the 1950s], this monopoly has begun to be questioned and challenged by the so-called “alternative space movement” – a movement generated mostly by artists and propelled by artists’ desire to exercise greater control over the conditions under which it is shown.’
Firstly, what happened in the 1960s had beneficial effects which were more psychological than practical. For instance, the opening in Edinburgh of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 1960, unfortunately did not create a great new source of state patronage for Scottish artists, but it did, however, grant a degree of status to modern art that the general public had previously refused to recognise.
Another event in the mid-1960s was staged to alter people’s attitudes towards contemporary art. Following the example of the great French Realist painter, Gustave Courbet, and also inspired by the critical views of Hugh MacDiarmid, the young art students, John Bellany and Sandy Moffat, defiantly hung uncompromisingly realist paintings outside the sanctified portals of the Edinburgh International Festival. Such a gesture sought to emphasise that art, if it had any real justification for serious critical attention, should be both relevant to a whole range of human experiences and accessible to all who wish to widen their social, intellectual and emotional awareness. These pictures hanging out on the street demanded attention and consideration at a time when there was a growing feeling that painting was a dying art form…The collapse of the belief that the academies were the sole arbitrators of aesthetic standards
“On a more directly practical level, the most important development on the Scottish art scene in the 1960s was the creation of The Scottish Arts Council in 1967. Unlike other public art institutions, its brief was to support directly artists in advancing their careers, and widening the availability of contemporary art to the general public. The manner in which this has been achieved through giving financial help to individual artists in the form of awards and bursaries, and at the same time by funding semi- and non-commercial galleries to exhibit a wide range of different types of contemporary art from Scotland and abroad. Thus, not only were opportunities increased for artists to present their work through one-person and group exhibitions, but also a new seriously interested public was created for the visual arts.Scottish artists in this sense are trained to be subsided which has had an impact on their practice and subsequently on the art of the nation
Such was the case, for example, when Richard Demarco invited, the then little known Joseph Beuys to show and perform in Edinburgh in the early 1970s. With the spread of non-commercial galleries, Scottish artists could now be much more ambitious and challenging in their art.Since the 1960s, not only has the network of galleries expanded, but the sheer number of artists practicing throughout Scotland increased dramatically. The whole atmosphere of change and expansion was most noticeable in the Scottish art schools, where the majority of the students train to be artists rather than art teachers, which had tended to be the case. Furthermore, there is a much stronger sense of solidarity and supportive community look to each other for mutual support. This is reflected in the establishment of the many artist-run initiatives and galleries throughout the country. Yet for all the creativity which has been engendered in the Scottish art scene since the 1960s, there are still certain deficiencies, apart from the continual government under-funding which is the perennial curse of the arts in Scotland. There is no consistent private buying and collecting of contemporary Scottish art. Although many of Scotland’s artists do choose to stay and work here they mainly have dealers from outside.
Their artist-run activities occurred against a backdrop of numerous insolvent galleries closing their doors, in Glasgow the Third Eye Centre was closed down by the Scottish Arts Council (re-opened in December 1992 as the CCA) and in Edinburgh the Fruitmarket and the 369 Gallery temporarily closed their doors and the Richard Demarco Gallery closed awaiting another short-lived re-incarnation as the Demarco European Art Foundation in 1992. Significantly, the Scottish Arts Council’s lack of support was pivotal in its lack of intervention to halt the closure of not only the Third Eye Centre but also of the Demarco Gallery
In the UK the concentration of market power is categorically in London, where commercial art activities are manifest in the profusion of private dealerships, galleries, and art fairs. However, in Scotland artists and galleries are of course implicated and bound by economic systems, irrespective of whether they are commercial galleries, museums, not-for profit, institutionally funded, or subsidised by government directed Arts Councils.Dundas Street is the traditional home of Edinburgh's staid commercial galleries, places where you can go to buy a nice landscape in oils or a watercolour of some roses.Historically artist-run galleries have tended not to engage with the art market for fear that commercial forces would ‘sully’ their integrity. Whilst generally they are not circumscribed by commercialism, they have more recently repositioned themselves in relation to the art market. That said their principle aim remains the desire to offer a viable alternative by providing a platform where less-established artists can exhibit without having to rely on the resources of art dealers and commercial galleries.
Scotland has a long tradition of ad-hoc artist collectives organising self-initiated ventures. Conceived to show work neglected by mainstream galleries in Scotlandalternative; self-initiated; self-organised; independent; collectives; co-operatives; DIY; not-for-profit; and so on.Considering the dominant role played by artist-run initiatives, historical and contemporary, existing and defunct, it is evident that they make an important contribution to the geography of the Scottish art scene. They are largely responsible for Scotland’s growing reputation as a ‘centre for excellence’definitions of what might constitute ARIs and established institutions and what purpose they serve, their contributions to the art scene and culture, and how they are positioned within the wider art world. ARIs, unlike established institutions, provide opportunities for artists to exhibit irrespective of whether they are validated by, for example, funding bodies, gallery representation or an extensive C.V. Artist-run practice, as ideology, has historically been advocated as left-wing and related to practices of institutional critique and also to the legacies of anti-establishment and counter-cultural practices
Transmission initially relied on sporadic fundraising and sponsorship before it secured regular income from the Scottish Arts Council and Glasgow City Council. In 1990 the gallery was put into jeopardy due to the misguided funding priorities of the Year of Culture, an annually designated brand bestowed by the European Union to a city during which they organise a series of cultural events. Once more the Scottish Arts Council, and by extension the government, were clearly identified as the adversaries. They reduced Transmission’s funding by ring-fencing financial support for this urban spectacle, thus manoeuvring funding beyond the reach of the grassroots organisations. Despite the rhetorical references to the economic and social benefits that this cultural pageant claimed to provide, there is little evidence that it made a tangible contribution to local cultural or economic development. Grassroots projects were neglected by the city’s modernisation continuum as the Arts Council and the City Council prioritised marketing Glasgow over rooting long-term growth in the local community. Ultimately the attempt to fuse culture and the policies of urban regeneration was consolidated in a programme that enforced the city’s tourism strategy.
The Embassy is indicative of the paradoxes that constitute contemporary artist-run culture. It involves collective, self-organised practice that echo the spirit of punk and DIY culture, yet far from feigning dilettantism it also engenders levels of professionalism, the individual spirit of entrepreneurialism, and engagement with economic forces. The Embassy was set up as a permanent venture, intent on avoiding becoming advocates or victims of short-termism. However, in keeping with most long term gallery projects, sustainability depends not only on whether it can continue to develop its programme of exhibitions, but also if it can consolidate its funding position and grow in reputation as an autonomous exhibition space. That is to say, reconciling pragmatism and idealism in such a way as to protect creativity. Akin to other not-for profit organisations, the Embassy was and is financially vulnerable because revenue is concentrated from limited sources, namely the Scottish Arts Council/Creative Scotland. Furthermore Arts Council funding allocation is restricted insomuch as it can only be used to finance certain purposes, for example only selected/curated exhibitions and not the gallery members’ exhibitions, and project funding does not include rental and associated costs of the premises. Typical of most non-profit, artist-run spaces the Embassy is a company with charitable status. Registering as a charity set up for the promotion of art practice, particularly within their local area together with a committee, is a strategy that can offer crucial support to an organisation’s long-term development. However the administrative running of an artist-run gallery is a burden due to both the lack of financial resources and business skills. It is a weakness of artist-run galleries that their focus is at times required to shift from making, exhibiting and curating towards maintaining premises and ensuring the survival of their organisation.The Embassy also receives funding from Edinburgh College of Art Trustees, and received the Young Scot Award. They are also supported by annual membership subscriptions.
There have been concerted efforts by the UK’s Arts Councils to stimulate business with the introduction of their Own Art scheme that offers interest-free loans of up to £2,000, to be repaid over ten months, to buy artworks. This stimulus by the public funding body was intended to address the irregularity of the local art market that is very limited in terms of ‘new’ work Own Art was been initiated by Art Council England. The Scottish Arts Council became a partner in the scheme in 2005.
We return to the recurring question of identity.Who is represented, by who…
Heads of Scotland by Graham Fagan, produced a decade after devolution, is a triptych representing three of Scotland’s major institutions, banks, government and the judiciary. This work questions the authority of the nation’s ‘cultural formers’
Interventionism: Historical context of Scottish Arts Patronage
ContemporaryScottish Art Practice(1945-present)Week 2Interventionism: Historicalcontext of Scottish ArtsPatronageDeborah Jacksondeborah.firstname.lastname@example.orgKatie OrtonSAC Stack(2008)
Ross SinclairReal Life Huntly (surveyed from the Clashmach), (July 2011)
“The arts world mustmake the case for publicfunding by focusing on itseconomic, not artistic,value. When times aretough and money is tight,our focus must be oncultures economicimpact.”Culture Secretary Maria Miller
How is Scottish identity in the 21stcentury influenced by the art of timespast?• History• Arts patronageRachel MacleanI HEART SCOTLAND(2013)
It began as an ambitious scheme to establish a Scottish colony in Panama, butended in loss of life and financial ruin.Darien Disaster
Craig CoulthardLet us all take Responsibility(2006)
Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) in Edinburgh was established in 1826.It was important because Scotland had lost its national sovereignty with theUnion of the Parliaments in 1707 and any building that gave focus to nationalidentity was highly valued.
Private patronage of the ArtsJim LambieA Forest(2010)JupiterArtland is anexample of21st centuryprivate artspatronage
Public patronage of the ArtsMartin CreedWork No. 1059(2011)Commissionedby TheFruitmarketGallery for theEdinburgh ArtFestival 2011
The inception of the Council forthe Encouragement of Musicand the Arts (CEMA) in 1939laid the foundations for themodern relationship betweenthe government and the arts.Public patronage of the Arts• Should funding be given to promoteaccess and increase participation inthe arts?• Should decisions be madecentrally, from London, or should theregions have more control?
Alexander MoffatHugh MacDiarmid (Hymn to Lenin)(1979)
Douglas GordonDivided Self I and II(1996)Cultural schizophreniaPosits an unbridgeable gap betweenan authentic but obsolescent Scottishculture and an attractive but artificialEnglishness.
Scots belle peintureScots belle peinture school of modern Scottish painting was steeped in ruralnostalgia, presenting a one-sided, distorted view of life in Scotland. Theseartists were a symptom of the continuing crisis in Scottish identity in the firsthalf of the 20th century.
Art as a vehicle forcritical engagementwith contemporaryScottish experience
ALLOWAY, LAWRENCE. When Artists Start Their OwnGalleries, New York Times (1857-Current file), ProQuestHistorical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2001),Apr 3 1983, pp29-30„Over the past century, artdealers have come todominate the distribution of artand the formation of taste.But…[since the 1960s], thismonopoly has begun to bequestioned and challenged bythe so-called “alternativespace movement” – amovement generated mostlyby artists and propelled byartists‟ desire to exercisegreater control over theconditions under which it isshown.‟
Much of the ground work whichled to the success story ofScottish painting in the 1980swas laid down two decadesearlier.
The opening in Edinburgh of theScottish National Gallery ofModern Art in 1960,unfortunately did not create agreat new source of statepatronage for Scottish artists, butit did, however, grant a degree ofstatus to modern art that thegeneral public had previouslyrefused to recognise.
Barbara BalmerRichard Demarco(1991)Richard Demarco invited JosephBeuys to show and perform inEdinburgh in the early 1970s
Historically artist-run galleries have tended not to engage with the artmarket for fear that commercial forces would ‘sully’ their integrity.Their principle aim remains the desire to offer a viable alternative byproviding a platform where less-established artists can exhibit withouthaving to rely on the resources of art dealers and commercial galleries.Dundas Street is the traditional home of Edinburghs staid commercialgalleries, places where you can go to buy a nice landscape in oils or awatercolour of some roses.
Artist-Run InitiativesScotland has a long tradition of ad-hoc artist collectivesorganising self-initiated ventures.Conceived to show work neglected by mainstream galleriesin Scotland
Conceived to showwork neglected bymainstream galleriesin Scotland
Graham FagenHeads ofScotland(2009)Heads of Scotland by Graham Fagan, produced a decade after devolution, is atriptych representing three of Scotland’s major institutions, banks, governmentand the judiciary. This work questions the authority of the nation’s ‘culturalformers’
Artist Kevin Harman smashing one of the Collective Gallerys windows with alength of scaffolding. He was later fined £200 for breaching the peace.