Visual Arts Scotland’s annual exhibition opens on Friday 29th January 2016, and a host of Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) talent will feature across its three showcases.

Delineation through architectural study and structural design

Of the three artists invited to show in CONVERGE 2016, Andrew Mackenzie is an ECA alumnus, having graduated in 1993 with a Master of Fine Art and, previously, in 1991 with a BA (Hons) in Drawing and Painting.

The theme of the invited artists’ exhibition is ‘delineation through architectural study and structural design’, to which Andrew has responded with the largest drawings he has made to date using multiple layers of pastel and gouache.

He explains…

“I met with Robbie Bushe (President of Visual Arts Scotland, ECA alumnus and Course Organiser for Art & Design in the Office of Lifelong Learning) to discuss ideas and directions, and he suggested making something which I have not made before, to see it as an opportunity to experiment, to be bold. 

I had been working on some drawings for Abstraction from Architecture, a show at Edinburgh Printmakers, building surface with the pastel and using gouache to make line drawings, and I decided to use the same process but to really develop it on a much larger scale.

I had recently visited and photographed a defunct service station on the outskirts of Edinburgh, and this seemed a particularly apt starting point; I have enjoyed this kind of anonymous "non-place" for many years.

The final CONVERGE piece - in three parts - is around five metres. I worked up several small studies first, then spent around three months working on the final drawings while on a residency in Edinburgh Academy. I also received generous material support from Jacksons Art Supplies in London.

It has been a huge amount of work, but I am grateful to be given the opportunity to take part. Visual Arts Scotland is an important organisation, as it presents dynamic and active relationships between sculpture, applied art, painting, drawing, film, tapestry and printmaking, finding new connections”.

Emerging artists and designers whose work exemplifies a fresh approach to contemporary art

This will be the second year that the Visual Arts Scotland exhibition includes a Graduate Showcase.

Of the six artists invited to participate, three graduated from ECA in June 2015: Natalie Jane Adams and Eva Melnika with BA Hons degrees in Jewellery & Silversmithing; and Gosia Walton with an MFA in Contemporary Art Practice.

Gosia says…

“Visual Arts Scotland visited the four main Scottish art colleges during the 2015 Degree Shows. They were looking for the emerging artists and designers whose work best exemplified a fresh and dynamic approach to contemporary applied and fine art.

I am honoured to be one of only six graduates chosen. For artists, the time following the end of their degrees can be difficult, so it was very important for me to focus on making work for CONVERGE.

I worked closely with Robbie Bushe, who played a key role in developing new ways of displaying my work. I look forward to the show opening on 29th January, which is also when my first solo exhibition - PRELUDE - opens at Gallery 1 on Gayfield Square, Edinburgh”.

The very best of fine art, design and applied art

In addition to the invited showcases, CONVERGE will feature an open submission exhibition.

Typically, Visual Arts Scotland receives around 1,300 online submissions for this element of its annual show, allowing the team to “cherry pick the very best of fine art, design and applied art”.

Among the 175 or so exhibitors in this year’s show are a number of ECA staff, students and alumni, including Donny Barry, Ronald Binnie, Felicity Bristow, Robbie Bushe, Elizabeth Campbell, Polly Collins, Lindsey Lavender, Jo Pudelko, Theo Shields, Hazel Thorn and Sandra Vick.

Cordis Trust Award for Tapestry

UPDATE! Susan Mowatt, Programme Director for Intermedia - BA (Hons) at ECA, was announced as the winner of the Cordis Trust Award for Tapestry at CONVERGE on 11th February 2016. Susan was one of ten shortlisted artists contesting the Award, which was open to professional tapestry artists worldwide.

The £5000 prize is given for a large tapestry, hand woven by the artist within the last five years; Susan’s entry was entitled Black/Time/Lines/White/Time/Lines. 

Susan has an MFA in Tapestry from ECA and has worked in the Frankische Gobelin Manufactur in Bavaria, and later on the Federation Tapestry as an invited weaver in the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne, Australia.

CONVERGE runs from 29th January to 20th February 2016 at the Scottish National Galleries Academy Building on The Mound in Edinburgh. The exhibitions are FREE but donations are welcome.

Gosia Walton’s first solo show, PRELUDE, runs from 29th January to 10th February 2016 at Gallery 1, Gayfield Creative Spaces, 11 Gayfield Square, Edinburgh. The show is FREE.