Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Art on Television - The Story of Scottish Art

The BBC is currently telling The Story of Scottish Art on BBC Scotland - but is not broadcasting this south of the border. However I've only just found out that , very sensobly, all the programmes are now available to all of us who can access BBC iPlayer.

I haven't watched them all as yet but the little I've seen suggest they are all going to be fascinating. I'm 'flying blind' when it comes to the images I've added into to this post and may revise them after I've viewed all the programmes.

Links to the programmes on iPlayer are included in the title of each episode

Links to paintings after the name relate to the collection of digitised paintings by that artist held in the BBC Your Paintings website.  I can certainly recommend having a look at these as by seeing a digital retrospective of a collection of their paintings you get a much better appreciation of the scope and value of an artist.

At the end I've included links to more information about Scottish art and artists.

The Story of Scottish Art

The Story of Scottish Art was broadcast on BBC Scotland earlier this month but was not shown south of the border - but is now accessible via iPlayer!

The series is the most ambitious ever done about the history of Scottish Art. It covers some 5,000 years, from the earliest Neolithic art to the present day.  The aim is to
  • explore developments and innovations in art across the centuries, 
  • place Scottish art in an international context and 
  • relate the art to the story of Scotland’s social and political history.
forging a modern art for a modern Scotland
The writer and presenter of the series is Lachlan Goudie who many will remember from The Big Painting Challenge earlier this year.
“Scotland’s artistic heritage is rich and complex. People often know about the ‘Scottish Colourists’ but when you look beyond this small group of painters, you realise that for 5,000 years, generations of artists from Scotland have been creating and innovating with extraordinary bravery. They’ve consistently pushed at the boundaries of what art can do and questioned what it actually means to be a ‘Scottish' artist. As a painter myself I feel a real urge to understand the motivations and the challenges that have confronted artists from Scotland throughout the centuries. How they’ve helped define their own culture whilst being informed and inspired by the most revolutionary international art movements of the day."
There are four episodes as follows.
Westray Wife 20110529
The Westray Wife

The Story of Scottish Art - EPISODE 1 (10 days left) 

This focuses on:
  • a visit to Orkney and encounters with 
    • the Ring of Brodgar in Orkney, a stone circle that has stood for thousands of years. 
    • the Westray Wife, an ancient figurine on the island of Westray that is the oldest sculpted human figure in the British Isles.
  • the sophisticated art of the Picts and the Gaels
  • the exuberant Renaissance period of the early Stuart kings
  • the destruction of artworks in Scotland following the Reformation

The Story of Scottish Art - EPISODE 2 (17 days left)

 A View of Loch Lomond by Horatio McCulloch
Oil on Canvas, 76 x 127 cm
This highlights:
The Skating Minister by Henry Raeburn
one of the most popular portraits in the UK
  • the blossing of Scottish Art in the 18th century - due to the the intellectual revolution of the Enlightenment and the classical influence of the continent 
  • the emergence of a new cultural identity and a new generation of Scottish artists:
Allan Ramsay - Allan Ramsay, 1713 - 1784. Artist (Self-portrait) - Google Art Project
Self Portrait of Allan Ramsay

The Story of Scottish Art - EPISODE 3 (24 days left)

Turning to the 19th century, this episode looks at a generation who transformed the way we saw Scotland's landscape and identity. It focuses on:
BBC Your Paintings - Paintings by JD Fergusson

The Story of Scottish Art - EPISODE 4 

(broadcast tomorrow on BBC Scotland and available on iPlayer afterwards)

The final programme considers Scottish art in the 20th and 21st century. It features some artists who are less well known outside Scotland.

Links in this section include ones to the BBC's Paintings website where you can see more of their work
BBC Your Paintings: Paintings by Joan Eardley

More information

Those interested in Scottish art will find the following of interest


  1. Thank you for flagging this up - would love to see it. Despite growing up in Scotland and studying Art and Art History at school in Edinburgh, I don't think we ever studied Scottish art, so my knowledge is woefully thin.

  2. The BBC has surely missed a trick. The excellent series on Scottish Art really should have had an associated book.


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