It’s January 2018 and the streets of Edinburgh are a mosaic of grey tones. Though a typical dreary, January day in the city, it’s about to get brighter for some. Having recently been able to dedicate more time to painting, Fiona Grant Robertson has decided to treat herself to new paintbrushes with a trip to Greyfriars Art shop. It is here that she bumps into three of her fellow graduates of diplomas in Drawing and Painting from Edinburgh College of Art; Brian Henderson, Val Hamilton (Lewis) and Liz Holmes. And from this chance meeting, 20 students from the class of 1975 would reunite for a very special exhibition, and, most importantly, to rekindle old friendships.

The four artists had not all been together since their graduation day 44 years ago, and the conversation soon turned to with whom they kept in touch and how they could get more former classmates together to plan an exhibition. Thanks to the connectivity of technology, the group were able to reach out to others via Facebook, which Fiona joined especially for the reunion exhibition.

After months of scheduling logistics, 20 alumni of the class of 1975 were able to reunite. Fiona describes the first meeting as a wholly positive and wonderful time, with Liz adding:

“Once we got chatting it was as if the years rolled away and we took up the conversation where we had left off 40 odd years ago. It was just a really friendly experience.

Liz, Fiona and Roy Middleton, from the class of 1975 at the exhibition
Fiona Grant Robertson
Liz, Fiona and Roy Middleton, from the class of 1975 at the exhibition

"Once we got chatting it was as if the years rolled away and we took up the conversation where we had left off 40 odd years ago."

Liz Holmes

The hanging of the exhibition itself at Dundas Street Gallery was no different. Fiona and Liz have nothing but kind words for their alumni peers and said that the class had always been a friendly, tight-knit group of supportive friends. Fiona said of the exhibition’s preparation:

It was such an amicable thing, there was no one fretting where their work was hung – everyone was just so happy to be there.”

Fiona was tasked with accumulating details about the artist’s and their works for the accompanying catalogue for the ECA’75 exhibition, a process which she found to be fascinating. She said:

It was interesting to see how everyone had developed and also the sheer professionalism and craftsmanship about the show. No one was handing in something they had dragged out of the corner of the studio.”

The recent ECA'75 exhibition at Dundas Street Gallery
ECA
The recent ECA'75 exhibition at Dundas Street Gallery
Graduates of the class of 1975 Euna Cairns and Rona C.S Anderson
ECA
Graduates of the class of 1975 Euna Cairns and Rona C.S Anderson

Not only was the quality of work on display exceptional, but the event inspired those who hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in quite some time to create art especially for the occasion.

A touching aspect of the exhibition was how personable and meaningful it was. The works of art managed to capture both the unitive moment in time and the individual journeys of the artists since they graduated in 1975. 

Fiona and Liz beam with joy when recalling the recent exhibition, which has added to the fond memories the former classmates share together. The exhibition was a warming and enjoyable experience for the participants, and equally so for the visitors. Liz said of the response to the exhibition:

 “We had a great many visitors at the gallery – friends, students from other years at ECA and passers-by, and there were many favourable comments.”

“People were amazed that we managed to get together and put on a show. It was wonderful to all be in touch again. I think we will meet up regularly and maybe even exhibit together again.”

Planning a reunion? We can help! If you would like advice on organising your reunion contact alumni@ed.ac.uk  or call 0131 650 2242.


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