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Jan Patience: From graffiti to gallus, Royal Scottish Academy show is glorious

© Artwork: Jim LambieSun Visor, by Jim Lambie, inset, is part of RSA show.
Sun Visor, by Jim Lambie, inset, is part of RSA show.

For almost 200 years, the Royal Scottish Academy has held its prestigious annual exhibition in galleries behind the RSA building’s famous columns on Princes Street, Edinburgh.

As well as launching many careers, work sold has given many a struggling artist’s coffers a boost.

Post-pandemic, the art world has shifted its focus to become more inclusive.

Today, a blended model of in-gallery and online exhibitions has become the new normal. With this in mind, until June 12, you can visit the RSA’s galleries in Edinburgh to view 400 contemporary works for free. If you are unable to visit in person, an online version is also being hosted. Artist Robbie Bushe, RSA, has led “the hang” which includes vividly painted lime green, hot pink and burnt orange walls as a canvas for a selection of paintings.

The bonus of having an online version of the show, is that work which couldn’t be included in the physical show for lack of space, is included virtually.

This brings the tally up to around 600 works, including sculpture, printmaking, film, photography and installation by leading artists and architects.

You’ll need sunglasses not only for the citrusy walls, but also for Jim Lambie’s Sun Visor, the poster-image for the show. Lambie’s eye-popping digital print hand-finished with spray paint, brings a gallus graffiti-ish edge to proceedings.

Talking graffiti, Olivia Irvine’s Once Upon A Carpet, a riot of oil, egg tempera and collage on canvas, deservedly won the W Gordon Smith & Jay Gordonsmith Award.

Check out a small separate show of works on paper by the chronically under-rated Doug Cocker. I loved his sculpture, Entomolgy, an array of insect shapes made from cut and curving ash wood.

For more details, see rsaannualexhibition.org


Last week I hosted an in-person and online Q&A at Dunoon Burgh Hall with Glaswegian sisters Pat McLean and Ann McKenna, who were painted as wee girls by the great Joan Eardley.

The event (now on YouTube) launched the Burgh Hall’s new Joan Eardley 100 exhibition.

Two rarely seen oil paintings – including one featuring Pat and Ann – are on display, as well a host of wonderful Eardley drawings from the Lillie Art Gallery’s collection. It runs until June 12.