A guide to independent galleries in Edinburgh and Glasgow
Embassy, Whitespace, Superclub, the Briggait and the Common Guild among some of Scotland's most exciting arts spaces
The List’ s visual art Editor Rhona Taylor takes a tour through some of Scotland’s artiest nooks and crannies
Edinburgh and Glasgow both have thriving visual arts scenes with some great museums and galleries. But explore a little further past the established names and you’ll find small galleries, pop-up spaces and collectives that are home to some of Britain’s best contemporary art.
Central to the art action in both cities are their art schools – Glasgow School of Art has produced a quarter of the names on the Turner Prize shortlists since 2005 – and both GSA and Edinburgh College of Art hold a rolling programme of exhibitions. Look out for the end-of-year degree and fashion shows, both of which are highlights on the arts calendar.
Edinburgh has a fantastic selection of smaller spaces, with work by emerging artists as well as more established names, several gathered in a cluster at the top of Leith Walk. Embassy is an artist-run space with close links to ECA, while Whitespace is the venue for theatre performances as well as interesting smaller exhibitions. Superclub’s shows reflect the strong emphasis it places on supporting emerging artists, while the Old Ambulance Depot is exactly what it sounds like – an old ambulance garage that has been turned into one of the city’s more interesting spaces, hosting exhibitions by groups such as the Black Cube Collective.
Digital work is well represented at Inspace, a collaboration between New Media Scotland and Edinburgh University’s School of Informatics. Exciting things are also going on at the Collective Gallery, which is in the process of moving into new premises at the City Observatory on Calton Hill, a landmark building that will be a great new venue for the city.
Shows from lesser-known names can be found in spaces at various artists’ studios throughout the year, including Out of the Blue, Rhubaba and Wasps, which has premises across Scotland including three in Edinburgh and four in Glasgow. The best known of these is the Briggait in Glasgow’s Merchant City, which holds a range of exhibitions in its shopfront galleries and courtyard.
The pick of the smaller Glasgow galleries is List favourite SWG3 in Partick, which hosts gigs and one-off events as well as exhibitions throughout the year, such as the members’ show of new art collective 2|1|4|1. Further into town, the Hidden Lane Gallery is housed in a former hearse garage in Finnieston and linked to the nearby Hidden Lane studios complex, which is home to artists working in a diverse range of disciplines.
Next to Kelvingrove Park, the innovative Common Guild presents a range of exhibitions, projects and events, collaborating with other organisations on off-site enterprises. Recent projects include Scotland + Venice 2013, an exhibition of work by Scottish artists held in Venice’s Palazzo Pisani.
Clustered in town are a good selection of contemporary spaces. Transmission was set up by GSA graduates and has maintained the same ethos since it was created in 1983: providing a space for artists to meet, exchange ideas and exhibit.
The nearby A.Gallery opened last year and focuses on work by students, recent graduates and other emerging artists, while the Telfer puts a strong emphasis on experimentation by its exhibitors. North of the city centre in Speirs Locks, the Glue Factory has made its home in the former Scottish Adhesives Company warehouse, to host ambitious projects from visual art and design to performance and film.