Between poles and tides, Kate V Robertson: Object (hood), Michael Barr: HOSTIPITALIDADE and The Torrie Collection, all coming to a close this week, have each used, appropriated and explored various facets of the University of Edinburgh’s art collection.

We spoke to Edinburgh University’s Art Collections Curator Neil Lebeter to understand the process behind building a public facing, contemporary, university collection.


The ECA final year degree show happens every summer, around the beginning of June. This is an opportunity for graduating art and design students to show case their new work, often as an amalgamation of their research and practice throughout their degree.

It is also an opportunity to get their name and practice recognised and to (hopefully) sell a few pieces. Since Edinburgh University began building a contemporary art collection, the degree show has been the first port of a call when purchasing new artworks.

Each year, a group of four to five academics attend the degree show in the hopes of scouting out exactly what they need to build upon and diversify the growing collection. This group of individuals includes both Neil Lebeter and the academic honorary curator, Gordon Brennan ever year, after that a selection of academics from across disciplines are asked to attend to help decide which artists to pick.


Introduction | JL Williams

about, Introduction, JL Williams

Originally from New Jersey, US, artist, poet and performer, JL Williams studied for an MLitt in Creative Writing from Glasgow University. Throughout her career Williams has worked across a vast array of cultural projects, from the writing of an Opera to creating workshops and performing at live poetry events.

Collaboration and performance play an important role in the development of both poetry and language within her practice. Williams has collaborated with numerous artists, poets and musicians, Iain Morris, James Iremonger, Anna Chapman and Alastair Cook to name a few. One of Williams’ most prominent collaborations throughout her career has been with artist and friend, Catherine Street, performing and writing together throughout several exhibitions and sound-performances.

This collaboration is ever-present within Between poles and tides. Whilst walking through the exhibition, visitors can listen to an emotive audio recording of Williams in an abstract and imagined dialogue with Street. This dialogue became a reality at the end of last month when the two women performed the piece in the gallery space, creating a live, poetic environment.

Lauren Hawkins, Talbot Rice Gallery Intern


Ian Hamilton Finlay


During 2013, Ian Hamilton Finlay was exhibited as a part of the touring exhibition series, ARTIST ROOMS, produced in collaboration with Tate and institutions throughout the UK. ARTIST ROOMS, was established in 2008, through the donation of over 1,600 pieces of contemporary art by the collector Antony D’offay. It aims to provide the public with regular and accessible opportunities to view work from important contemporary artists.

Finlay was exhibited at: The Park Gallery, Falkirk

Nature over again after Poussin 1979–1980

24 August 16 November 2013
Image: Tate Modern

The Arena | Luc Tuymans

Luc Tuymans

In anticipation of the exhibition Between poles and tides, Luc Tuymans gifted a series of prints of his triptych, ‘The Arena’ to the gallery.

The paintings, true to the style of Tuymans present a fragmented, and mysterious representation of everyday, human activities.

This is an exciting opportunity for the gallery to be able to both show and offer for purchase the work of an important contemporary artist practising today.

Read more details on the University’s website below:

Image courtesy of Chris Park

Introduction | Luc Tuymans

Introduction, Luc Tuymans

Luc Tuymans is a Belgian artist who is widely accredited with the amelioration of painting as an artistic medium.

Contextually; following on from the Conceptual Art movement of the 1960’s and 70’s, Tuymans can be placed within a wider shift happening in the 80’s, where due to a revival of the art market and art dealers, painting saw its own renascence.

Living through the newly image saturated world of the late 20th century, Tuymans’ work aims to create meditations of these images of mass media through paints and prints. While his paintings appropriate often banal and ordinary found images and photographs, the summation of such images come to embody and represent major historic political and social events, such as the holocaust and the fall of the Berlin wall.

Additionally, Tuymans’ work can take on philosophical narratives; the impermeable layers created through his paintings hint at existentialism, distraction and passion.

Tuymans’ work can be both viewed and bought throughout the exhibition Between poles and tides. His tryptic of prints ‘The Arena’ are hung on the upper level of Gallery One, and also available as limited editions, to purchase from the gallery.

Lauren Hawkins, Talbot Rice Gallery Intern. 




Lafarge & Language

artists, Daisy Lafarge

Daisy Lafarge explores language in a multitude of ways.

Take, for example, her tandem of work for Between poles and tides. We see her video Not For Gain (2013) presented as a mysterious intertwining of sound, video and language. The film uses Lafarge as narrator to speak of border controls and migration, against a background of botanical gardens.

Next, we encounter Lafarge as author within her text ‘Slice the Delicate Network’. Her writing begins with reflections on the title Between poles and tides itself, and then begins to transition into the exploration of the work of other artists in the exhibition; from the rhythms of Katie Paterson’s clocks to the floral commons of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s paintings.

Introduction | Daisy Lafarge

about, artists, Daisy Lafarge, Introduction

Graduating from ECA in 2016, Lafarge has since established herself within Edinburgh as an artist exploring the intricacies of language and spoken word.

In recent months her selected texts have been published on literary platforms such as Poetry London, The Poetry Review and Annuale 2016. She also performs her poetic musings at live events around the city.

More Lasting than Bronze

about, artists, Jonathan Owen

As part of the 2016 Edinburgh Arts Festival, Owen created his first site specific work, transforming a 19th century sculpture of a nymph. Housed within the Burns Monument on Calton Road, the sculpture reflected the neo-classical temple surrounding it, echoing the homes of similar antique deities from long ago. Owen’s “anti-monumentalising” effect on the sculpture further echoes the history of the space: the removal of the Robert Burns sculpture that once stood in this nymph’s place effectively transformed the memorial into an anti-monument itself, mostly closed to the public, its purpose lost.

Jonathon Jones for the Guardian described the uncanniness of the sculpture: “Something is wrong. Her slender body is harmonious enough to please the most Enlightened philosopher, but her throat is missing. […] Closer up, the horror and disturbance grow.” Yet there was also a great beauty, elegance and poignancy in the nymph’s somewhat lonely position, up on that hill. The sculpture is the first female figure the artist has worked his magical defacement on, using it to subvert the traditional view of the male gaze that once weighed on her.

Read the Guardian Review of the 2016 Art festival here:

Jonathan Owen | Introduction

about, artists, Introduction, Jonathan Owen

The unquantifiable nature of what is left behind after we have reduced, removed and sculpted an object is a primary fascination of Liverpool born artist, Jonathan Owen. What happens to an objects identity when it has been altered? How do we know when an artwork is finished and how do we recognise permanence are all questions considered within his practice.

Owen takes ready-made objects, most notably, sculptural busts and film stills and shapes, crafts and re-thinks their formal qualities, creating artworks which are physically less, but conceptually more.

The classic and antiquated qualities of busts and sculptures have centred in a vast series of earlier works by Owen. He begins with a found sculpture, originally crafted in a traditional and regimented way. From here the original form of the artworks are altered and re-shaped using rustic processes; such as the use of a knife or bone. Owen carves chain links through the hearts of the sculptures to create new and contemporary dialogues for artworks previously considered ‘complete’.

For Between poles and tides, Owen’s Eraser Drawings can be viewed on the lower level of Gallery One. Similar to his sculptural works, Eraser Drawings are representative of a mysterious and enigmatic practice, wherein Owen removes layers of ink from images, displaying and uncovering what was or could have been.

Image Chris Park

Lauren Hawkins, Talbot Rice Gallery intern.