Inspired – Contemporary Artists Inspired by work in the Collection of the National Galleries of Scotland

With the blessing of the National Galleries of Scotland, Fidra Fine Art has invited leading Scottish contemporary artists to respond to their favourite works in the national collection.

10 September to 30 October

Lesley Banks, Georgina Bown, Chris Brook, Colin Brown, Dominique Cameron, June Carey, Sandra Collins, Alan Connell, Ann Cowan, Joseph Davie, Fee Dickson, Matthew Draper, Michael Durning, Ronnie Fulton, Neal Greig, Andy Heald, Henry Jabbour, John Johnstone, Phill Jupitus, Simon Laurie, Alan Macdonald, Carolynda Macdonald, Ailsa Magnus, Neil Macdonald, Alice McMurrough, Ann Oram, Arran Ross, David Schofield, Jayne Stokes, Peter Thomson, James Tweedie & Graeme Wilcox.

The spark for this exhibition came when I was listening to William Feaver’s biography of Lucian Freud while walking my dog on the beach during lockdown.

I was struck by the fact he had been invited to create a piece of work inspired by something from the collection of The National Gallery in London.

The exhibition, Encounters – New Art from Old, involved 25 artists and was held in 2000. Freud’s entry was an etching after Chardin’s The Young School Mistress.

It turned out Freud made two paintings in response – one larger, one smaller – before creating complementary pair of etchings.

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to invite some of the leading Scottish contemporary artists who exhibit here at Fidra Fine Art to similarly choose a piece from the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland and reimagine or reinterpret it.

There is a historical precedence for this. Scottish artists have long travelled far and wide in search of inspiration from other artists for their work. Travel scholarships won from the art schools or organisations such as the Royal Scottish Academy  encouraged artists to expose themselves to foreign landscapes and new schools of artistic thought.

The Glasgow Boys threw off the often sentimental, romantic landscape tradition which was the fashion of the time – after exposure to the realism of Dutch and French art and artists such as Jules Bastien-Lepage – and returned with an entirely modern and exciting new school of painting.

I have been lucky to visit a number of galleries with artist friends and have always found it interesting to hear their comments and interpretations. Artists have been trained to study their subjects, analysing colour, line and composition in infinite detail. Invariably they see things that passed me by.

It’s been absolutely fascinating to be privy to their insight into the works on show in Inspiration. I am hoping that by studying the work and the accompanying words from the artists in this exhibition, it will encourage the viewer to seek out the artist’s sources of inspiration and take time to enjoy – with a different view – some of the wonderful artwork available in the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland.

There will be 32 interpretations in this exhibition. Alongside each of the pieces is a few words from the artists and a unique QR Code (or web link on our website)  which links to the inspiration piece on the National Galleries of Scotland website.

With special thanks to the National Galleries of Scotland for their cooperation and support of this exhibition.