Forewordby the President of the Royal Scottish Academy
Due to the unfortunate circumstances in which we all find ourselves, the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture for the first time in its history is introducing the 194th Annual Exhibition as an online presentation.
Since the Academy was founded in 1826, the Annual Exhibition has been a yearly feature in the Scottish calendar giving the not so well known and young emerging artists and architects the opportunity to exhibit alongside the established Members of the Academy. The RSA plays a crucial role in encouraging artists and architects outwith the Academy at different stages in their careers by giving out yearly, close on £200,000 through awards, bursaries, residency schemes, purchase prizes and through sales in RSA New Contemporaries.
Throughout its 194 year history and despite the deprivations and disruptions caused by two World Wars, the Academy continued to open its doors, allowing the populace the opportunity to engage and be inspired by the power and creativity of the work displayed within; a glimmer of hope and magic when all around was mayhem and destruction.
Today with the uncertainty and troubling times ahead caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, an unseen silent enemy, the Academy is as determined as ever that the Annual Exhibition should go ahead, albeit in a different form. It is thanks to the skills and efforts of the Academy staff working from home that this has come to fruition.
It had been our hope and intention to at least select and hang the exhibition in the galleries but unfortunately events moved at such a pace that we were unable to do so due to the necessary closure of all the National Galleries of Scotland sites. The works remain unhung and entombed in the safety of the galleries and to quote Howard Carter when asked what he could see, on the opening of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber, he replied ‘Yes, wonderful things’.
It is possible due to our lockdown state that the Annual Exhibition will attract a much wider global audience, now having time to browse through the many splendid, sometimes challenging and collectable pieces on display. Sadly, not all pieces are on show due to the nature and scale of the work and could only have been photographed once they were in situ. Within the next fortnight the RSA will announce a new award scheme for this year, which is aimed at artists at the outset of their careers to support them in their studio practice.
We hope that you enjoy the works on display and on behalf of the Members and staff of the Royal Scottish Academy, I wish all our Patrons, Friends, sponsors, exhibitors, supporters and art lovers viewing the site a safe passage through the next few months.
Dr Joyce W. Cairns PRSA HRA HRHA HRWA HRBA RSW
President, The Royal Scottish Academy