Nova Scotia - From working class revolutions to conceptual art

  • The List
  • 24 April 2008

30 years of Scottish culture

Traverse director Chris Parr commissions The Slab Boys. ‘Chris decided that the Traverse was going to focus on new Scottish writing, and in doing so he changed the face of theatre in Scotland,’ says Byrne.

Margaret Thatcher elected Prime Minister. Scottish culture gains an antagonist and catalyst.

Publication of Alasdair Gray’s Lanark, still regarded as the seminal text in Scottish fiction.

Groundbreaking exhibition by former welder and GSA graduate Steven Campbell helps cement the reputation of the ‘Glasgow Boys’ school of figurative painting.

Liz Lochhead’s Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off, a bawdy, female-focussed reinvention of Scottish history.

Tramway’s Border Warfare and John Brown’s Body by John McGrath and Wildcat Theatre elevate Scottish political theatre to new levels of ambition.

Glasgow named European City of Culture. Gerry Mulgrew’s company Communicado puts on the very Scottish Jock Tamson’s Bairns, which becomes an international hit.

The Traverse moves to new, bigger premises by the Usher Hall, signalling that new Scottish-focused theatre is now the establishment.

Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting brings contemporary Scots dialect into mainstream literature.

James Kelman’s dialect-written How Late It Was, How Late wins the Booker Prize, to great outcry in London. The Times calls the book ‘literary vandalism’.

Video artist Douglas Gordon wins the Turner Prize. The film version of Trainspotting is assimilated into the ‘Cool Britannia’ movement and makes instant stars of Robert Carlyle and Ewan Macgregor.

Ali Smith’s multi award-winning Hotel World asserts a female, lesbian voice in Scottish writing.

National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) established.

Two Glasgow-based conceptual artists, Jim Lambie and Simon Starling, shortlisted for the Turner prize. Starling wins.

Black Watch, by Gregory Burke and NTS, becomes one of the most celebrated, internationally-reaching Scottish theatre productions in history.

AL Kennedy wins the Costa Prize with Day.

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