Talbot Rice Gallery aspires to present an experience of art that is complex – aesthetically, formally, structurally and historically – by utilising exhibition scenography, knowledge exchange and discursive events around the exhibitions. Commissioning new work as well as pioneering new ways of working with collections across the University are central to its ambitions, as the unique character of Talbot Rice Gallery is enriched by the centuries of academic research and history which distinguish the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh College of Art. The immediate architectural context of a Georgian Gallery rubbing up against a White (contemporary) Gallery creates a dynamic friction and energy for artists and curators to harness.
Named after the visionary art historian, David Talbot Rice, Talbot Rice Gallery opened in 1975. Replete with stories that range from the Charles Darwin studying taxidermy in one of the rooms, to a Puma roaming the galleries in the 19th Century, its origin as the Natural History Museum of the University of Edinburgh remains a potent spirit for the contemporary artists who now explore its many nooks and crannies.
In recent years the Gallery has produced solo shows by Luc Tuymans, Alice Neel and Rob Kennedy, and forthcoming solo exhibitions will feature Stephen Sutcliffe, John Akomfrah, Rachael Maclean, David Claerbout and Lucy Skaer. Many new works of art by new and emerging artists have also been commissioned in the last few years, often presented in the upper level Round Room, but increasingly ranging across the Gallery and public spaces. Group shows include Between Poles and Tides, a survey of new acquisitions from the University of Edinburgh Art Collection, British Art Show 8, and Interim, featuring work by first year students from the Contemporary Art Practice - MFA/MA programme at ECA, and the Gallery will continue to develop conceptual group exhibitions that hope to delve into some of the many fascinating research interests of colleagues across the academic spectrum of the University.
Talbot Rice Gallery is involved in a number of further activities, extending the Gallery’s work and impact on the international stage. Exceptionally in 2017, Talbot Rice Gallery was involved in two National Pavilions for the Venice Biennale – Scotland with Rachael Maclean, and Ireland with Jesse Jones – and will see the impactful artworks of both of these acclaimed artists return to the gallery in 2018. 2016 also saw the presentation of Tony Oursler’s remarkable ‘Influence Machine’, taking over George Square Gardens for 5 nights in November, and opening vast new audiences to the mysteries and intricacies of image-making and story-telling.