Put in the picture at Edinburgh’s Ages of Wonder

Scottish art is put in the focus at an impressive new exhibition currently being staged  om Edinburgh.

Ages of Wonder: Scotland’s Art 1540 to Now, a major joint exhibition between National Galleries of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Academy and the largest display of the Academy’s collection in its entire history, in collaboration with the universities of St Andrews, Edinburgh and Dundee.

The exhibition runs from Saturday, November 4, until January 7 at the Royal Scottish Academy Building on The Mound in Edinburgh.

John Byrne and Alison Watt in the Victorian-style gallery

Ages of Wonder has, for the first time in over 100 years, reunited paintings and sculptures with the RSA collection, bringing together a selection of over 450 works by more than 270 artists and architects, highlighting the significant part played by RSA in Scottish culture over the past two centuries.

A significant highlight is A Victorian Eye, featuring works hung dad to ceiling in the Victorian style, featuring the work of the masters to the Glasgow Boys.

Ages of Wonder features a range of special events, including a series of life drawing classes led by prominent contemporary artists, including John Byrne.

John Byrne, enjoying Ages of Wonder

Speaking to Scottish Field, he said: ‘It’s just wonderful. I particularly like the Victorian gallery, which I haven’t seen in Scotland before. It’s just delightful.

‘The whole world is interested in art – galleries are stowed out wherever you go. The first place that anybody goes to, no matter where they are in the world, is to see art galleries, to get a feeling for the whole country and nationality.

‘People are curious about art. There’s so many people who paint and draw now – they’re using Instagram, and it’s wonderful to see the huge interest and love of painting and drawing.

‘I’ve had my breath taken away by so many of them here. The skill and artistry is phenomenal. Everyone has special favourites.’

Artworks in the 20th century display at Ages of Wonder

Also present for the opening preview was fellow artist Alison Watt.

She said: ‘This is my first viewing of the show, and it’s brilliant. There are some things I’ve never seen before, and there’s some I recognise but they are now in a completely different context so that totally opens up the works. It’s extraordinary.

‘It’s not just about the history of the Royal Scottish Academy, it’s about a certain aspect of the history of Scottish art itself and I think the audience will love the diversity of that.

‘It’s showing the links between contemporary art practice and this collection. The fact the exhibition is free is just wonderful – it’s one I’ll be visiting many times.

‘That was the first thing I noticed when I came in was the Victorian Hang, which is something I’ve only really experienced with photography. It can’t be underestimated how good the hang is and it really shows off the work to its best effect. It’s a wonderful thing – it’s like a step back in time. I was amazed by how the works held their own, and despite the density – it’s really incredible.’

Classical busts, on show as part of Ages of Wonder