Scottish galleries and artworks outside the cities
Including Little Sparta, Taigh Chearsabhagh, Deveron Arts and more
Scotland is full of stunning landscapes – so it’s only natural that visual artists, galleries and curators have made full use of them in locations around the country. Laura Ennor goes on a journey
Pier Arts Centre, Orkney
On his native isles’ proliferation of artists, Orcadian writer George Mackay Brown once wrote, ‘I am sure that good art springs from … fruitful contact with the elements.’ The Pier, set up to provide a home for the collection of author and philanthropist Margaret Gardiner, could not be closer to the elements, perched as it is on the water’s edge in the fishing port of Stromness. In keeping with its traditional and natural environment, yet strikingly modern in design (the work of Edinburgh architects Reiach & Hall), its contemporary art programming is as forward thinking as any city-centre venue and arguably more excitingly positioned.
West Kilbride, Craft Town Scotland
An initiative in the 1990s led to the North Ayrshire coastal community of West Kilbride bucking a trend for town-centre decline by playing up to its strengths in craft and design. It’s now Scotland’s only official Craft Town, and has a stunning new converted church venue to match: the Barony Centre houses displays of work from the dozens of crafty cottage industries in the town, as well as touring exhibitions and participatory activities to engage community and visitors alike.
The life’s work of poet, artist and ‘avant-gardener’ Ian Hamilton Finlay, Little Sparta is the garden of his former home in the Pentland Hills, south-west of Edinburgh. The garden itself is a high-concept artistic creation, advancing Finlay’s ideas about art, beauty, and mankind’s duty to morality, as well as containing over 270 individual art works. Some of these are collaborations with stonemasons and letter-cutters that give almost literal meaning to the idea of ‘concrete poetry’.
Deveron Arts, Huntly
The mantra of Aberdeenshire organisation Deveron Arts is ‘the town is the venue’ – and the history and heritage of the market town of Huntly also informs the content of much of what it does. The work, which is resolutely participatory and engaging, explores socio-economic, environmental and heritage issues relevant to Huntly and the wider world. Recent work has explored walking, borders and the realities of living in a small community, and the organisation also lays on the annual Hallowe’en Hairst festival.
Taigh Chearsabhagh, North Uist
Galleries don’t come much more remote than this. In the village of Lochmaddy (population 300) Taigh Chearsabhagh’s location on the remote, exposed, low-lying Hebridean archipelago informs its focus on environmental art. In the bay it overlooks is artist Chris Drury’s ‘Hut of the Shadows’, a stone chamber acting as a camera obscura for the image of the loch-strewn landscape beyond.
Opened in 2009 by owners Robert and Nicky Wilson, Jupiter Artland combines art and landscape to magical effect in a location easily accessible from the capital. The sculpture park’s permanent features were all constructed in-situ and the relationship of each to its topographical location is a crucial feature. They include works by Andy Goldsworthy, Ian Hamilton Finlay (whose own Little Sparta inspired the park’s creation), Charles Jencks, Anish Kapoor, Peter Liversidge and Cornelia Parker – joined by temporary and new permanent creations each summer season.