Artist-Run Initiatives: Locating History in the Present

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Building on primary research with Scottish Artist-Run Initiatives (ARIs) this paper provides a genealogical critique of ARIs in Scotland from the 1960s in order to identify their legacy in shaping Scottish contemporary art practices. Scotland has a long tradition of ad-hoc artist-collectives organising self-initiated ventures with artists creating opportunities, which sustain art communities and impact on the local, national, and international art world. Historically, however, there has been a tendency to focus on a limited scope of artistic practices, meanings and institutions. For example, Transmission in Glasgow and the activities in and around it during the 1990s dominates discussions of Scottish ARIs. Therefore, the standard history of artist-run practice that exists is one that neglects to acknowledge the extent to which the 1960s precursors provided vital precedents by testing strategies redolent of those deployed in contemporary ARIs. This research presents offers a more nuanced perspective through the retrieval of the multiple pasts of Scottish artistic counter-cultures. It highlights some key examples from the the first wave of ARIs in the 1960s/70s. This was a prolific period of organisation creation in Scotland; the New 57 Gallery (1966); Richard Demarco Gallery (1966); Scottish Arts Council established (1967); Edinburgh Arts: Summer School (1972); Third Eye Centre (1975); Fruitmarket Gallery (housing SAC, the New 57 Gallery & Printmaker's Workshop) (1975); Forebank/Seagate (1976); WASPS: Workshop and Artists Studio Provision, Scotland (1977); and the 369 Gallery (1978). This first wave of ARIs were crucial in challenging modes of operation that questioned the parameters of art production and display by scoping out alternatives. This research considers the momentum of radicalism that was evident in the concerted efforts of artists who established ARIs as both a form of critique and pragmatism in the 1960s/70s. It then goes on to outline how the identity and role of ARIs has changed as expectations and practices have shifted by highlighting the contemporary situation of ARIs.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2018
EventThe Scottish Society for Art History’s Study Day 2018 : Art Organisations and Institutions in Scotland - Reid Building, Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Feb 201810 Feb 2018


ConferenceThe Scottish Society for Art History’s Study Day 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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