Kate Downie's ARI Mural Design No.1
Kate Downie's ARI Mural Design No.1

Art of the Scottish seas forms new collection

The Scottish Maritime Museum will host a remarkable new national art collection.

Featuring works by artists such as FCB Cadell, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Muirhead Bone, Kate Downie and John Bellany,

Maritime Perspectives: Collecting Art of a Seafaring Nation will run at the Scottish Maritime Museum on the Harbourside in Irvine, North Ayrshire, from Friday, June 1, until Sunday, 21 October.

It will be the first full showing for the new art collection which captures life along Scotland’s coastline in all its grit and glory.

The exhibition will feature over 100 works gathered for the collection over the last three years through SMMart, an ambitious project to create a nationally significant art collection to enrich the nationally recognised maritime heritage at the Museum.

The SMMart project, which was made possible by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures programme, with further support from Art Fund and the National Fund for Acquisitions, has been led by the Museum’s first Curator of Art, Fiona Greer. Fiona’s appointment was also made possible by the award from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures programme.

The exhibition will feature the oldest painting acquired to date, ‘On the Clyde’ painted by James Francis Williams in 1830, through to early 21st century pieces. Together, the works exploit a wide range of mediums from oil painting, watercolour, sketching and photography through to sculpture and mixed media.

Striking scenes from the heavy industries of oil and shipbuilding will sit side by side with tranquil scenes of fishing boats and travel posters promoting days out ‘doon the watter’. Haunting memorials to lives lost on dangerous seas in both war and peacetime will juxtapose with island seascapes.

Kate Downie’s ARI Mural Design No.1

As part of a new Art Fund RA250 programme celebrating works by Royal Academician artists, the exhibition will also feature a display of recently acquired works by William Lionel Wyllie RA including ‘The Grand Fleet in the Firth of Forth’ after the Armistice.

David Mann, director of the Scottish Maritime Museum, said: ‘With the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures programme, Art Fund and the National Fund for Acquisitions, we are delighted to unveil a new, exciting and eclectic art collection of national standing.

‘The new art collection adds great depth, colour and interpretation to our fascinating maritime heritage collection here at the Museum. We look forward to developing the new collection over coming years both as an added attraction for visitors coming to experience the maritime heritage as well as those coming to explore it in its own right.’

Fiona Greer, curator of art at the Scottish Maritime Museum, added: ‘A vivid portrayal of life for those living and working around Scotland’s coastline, Maritime Perspectives: Collecting Art of a Seafaring Nation will evoke a host of emotions.’

Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, added: ‘It’s thanks to players of the National Lottery that these diverse artworks have been brought together to form a new national collection. Not only are they individually important pieces, but together they tell a fascinating story of coastal life around Scotland which is sure to delight visitors from near and far.’

Dr Hazel Williamson, National Fund for Acquisitions Manager, agreed: ‘This exhibition brings together a wonderful collection of maritime art. We are very pleased that the National Fund for Acquisitions has been able to assist the development of that collection through financial support for several of the acquisitions.’

Entrance to the exhibition is included in the Museum admission.