Incoming: New Acquisitions at the City Art Centre

Kate Downie - Conversations Part I, 2005 © the artist

2 October 2021 – 28 May 2023

This autumn, Edinburgh’s City Art Centre opens a fascinating new exhibition showcasing a selection of artworks recently acquired for its celebrated fine art collection.

Incoming: New Acquisitions at the City Art Centre presents 50 artworks by a range of historic and contemporary Scottish artists. It includes paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and sculptures, all acquired for the collection within the last ten years. Many of these artworks are being exhibited at the City Art Centre for the very first time. Featured artists include Kate Downie, Rachel Maclean, Alison Watt, David Eustace, Peter Howson, Anthony Hatwell and Ian Hamilton Finlay.

The City Art Centre’s collection of fine art is recognised as nationally significant. Containing over 5,000 individual artworks, it traces the remarkable history of the visual arts in Scotland from the 17th century to present day.

The collection continues to grow every year through purchases, donations and bequests. All purchases are made using the Jean F. Watson Bequest Fund, a fund established in the 1960s by Edinburgh resident Jean F. Watson. This bequest was created for the sole purpose of building an outstanding collection of Scottish art for the City of Edinburgh, and it remains key to developing the collection today. Additional funding is sought through external bodies such as the Art Fund and the National Fund for Acquisitions, as well as the Friends of the City Art Centre & Museums. In addition to purchases, artworks regularly enter the collection as donations or bequests. These are generously offered by artists, their estates, arts organisations and members of the public.

More than 200 artworks have been acquired for the Capital's  fine art collection in the last decade. These include works by both established and emerging artists, famous names and talented newcomers. Each artwork either fills a historical gap in the collection or introduces a fresh, contemporary perspective. Adding to the collection in this way ensures that it remains a comprehensive and relevant resource for future generations.

Incoming: New Acquisitions at the City Art Centre presents a rich variety of artworks. Among the highlights are a pair of monumental urban landscape drawings by Kate Downie, two new works by Rachel Maclean from the Brexit-inspired series Native Animals, and a rare portrait bust by the early 20th century sculptor Thomas Good. Fans of photography can enjoy nostalgic scenes of 1960s Edinburgh by Robert Blomfield, and timeless images of the Isle of Harris by David Eustace. For the first time, visitors will also be able to view a selection of work acquired in early 2020 from the newly redeveloped Edinburgh Printmakers. This impressive grouping features etchings, screenprints, woodcuts and cyanotypes by contemporary printmakers including Ade Adesina, Carol Rhodes, Nicola Murray and Graeme Todd.

City Art Centre Curator Dr Helen Scott said:

Over the last 18 months the Covid-19 pandemic has made it really difficult to get out and enjoy art. As we gradually welcome visitors back to the City Art Centre, this is a brilliant opportunity to show them something new. The majority of the artworks featured in this exhibition are going on display for the first time, so it’s a tremendously exciting moment. Over the past decade we’ve developed the collection in several directions, and introduced many more new artists. Figures like Alison Watt, Rachel Maclean, David Eustace, Ade Adesina, Flannery O’kafka, Robert Powell and Anupa Gardner are all now represented. We’re working to make the collection increasingly rich and diverse, and I can’t wait to share it with visitors.


Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener, said: 

This exhibition is a must for residents, art lovers and those like me interested in Scottish history, presenting 50 artworks by a range of historic and contemporary Scottish artists - many on display at the City Art Centre for the very first time. With a diverse mix including many more contemporary pieces, this collection celebrates Scotland’s continued artistic and cultural heritage that is celebrated around the world. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity see Edinburgh's art collection and view works by some of Scotland's most famous artists.

Councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan, Culture and Communities Vice Convener, said:

The City Art Centre is one of the most accessible places in Edinburgh for art lovers and home to Edinburgh’s art collection, one of the finest in the country. We are delighted to welcome everybody to see the newest items in our wonderful collection. 

I'd like to reassure people that we are taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety of visitors and our staff and will continue to adhere to the latest public guidance.

Featured artist Kate Downie said:

It is such an honour to have two historic and one new work entering the collection of the City Art Centre. It holds one of the most diverse yet accessible art collections in Scotland today. I love this place.

Featured artist David Eustace said:

The real vision of any collection goes beyond the immediate audience who may witness it. I’m sure one day folk yet to be born will thank Edinburgh’s City Art Centre for having the vision to give artists of a time past the support and platform for their work…that is this and any collection’s greatest value.

In order to protect and maintain the safety of our visitors and staff, the City Art Centre has introduced a range of safety measures and procedures throughout the venue, including a one-way system, installation of screens at reception, hand sanitiser stations, extra barriers and signage. Staff will be wearing face coverings while offering visitors a very warm, physically distanced welcome.

Incoming: New Acquisitions at the City Art Centre opens on Saturday 2 October 2021, and runs until 28 May 2023. Admission is free.

Published: September 7th 2021