New City Art Centre exhibition is major retrospective of Scottish artist Will Maclean

Artist Will Maclean

This weekend, Edinburgh’s City Art Centre opens a major new exhibition showcasing the work of Scottish artist Will Maclean, with many pieces going on public display for the first time.

Will Maclean: Points of Departure provides a fresh insight into one of the most outstanding artists of his generation - from a variety of perspectives.

This major retrospective of 150 items spans almost 50 years of work and embraces every facet of his practice – his constructions, drawings, prints, sculptures, artistic collaborations, video productions and outdoor installations.

Maclean’s work is anchored in the history, archaeology, and literature of the Scottish Highlands and the Highland people, as well as his family background and personal associations with the sea.
Combining exquisitely hand-made pieces with found or (on occasion) mass produced objects, his work balances simplicity and complexity and invites the viewer to linger, to admire and to ponder the universal themes which he explores. The range of works on display is remarkable, from the dark and brooding etchings which make up the highly acclaimed Night of Islands portfolio, through delicate watercolours that accompany poems by Kenneth White in The Island Road, totemic sculptures such as the three Atlantic Messengers which are reminiscent of ancient cultures, and powerful pencil drawings such as Welcome to South Uist that evoke the untamed highland landscape.

Will Maclean said: 

It is an honour to to have been invited by the Edinburgh City Art Centre to present this exhibition. I would like to thank David Patterson and the staff at the gallery for their support through difficult times in the lead up to the installation.

Also to thank the galleries and collectors who have generously lent their works.

Curator David Patterson, said: 

It has been a tremendous privilege to work with Will in putting this exhibition together. It is testimony to how highly regarded he is that all of the lenders we approached were eager to lend. A huge thank you to them for allowing us to show artworks which normally take pride of place in their homes. This has been very much a team effort, but Will’s generosity of time and energy has made curating the exhibition a real thrill.

Joan Parr, Service Director of Culture and Wellbeing for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: 

We’re really looking forward to sharing the fascinating works of Will Maclean with our visitors. The exhibition is drawn from both public and private collections, with many pieces going on public display for the very first time.

Our City Art Centre champions and provides a platform for historic and contemporary Scottish art. Points of Departure promises to be a rich visual feast for anyone with an interest in Scottish art and history. I’d like to reassure visitors that we continue to take measures to ensure the safety of our guests and staff and adhere to the latest public guidance.

Maclean is Professor Emeritus, University of Dundee and was awarded an MBE in 2005 for services to Education and the Arts. 

Points of Departure is accompanied by two new books published by Sansom and Co Ltd, and available from the gallery shop; Points of Departure, a retrospective catalogue, and Compelled by Memory: The Lewis Land Monuments, 1994 - 2018. 

A wide-ranging events programme has been arranged alongside the exhibition. For up-to-date information about events, and details of how to book, please visit the Museums & Galleries Edinburgh website.

Will Maclean: Points of Departure is being presented as part of Edinburgh Art Festival 2022. It opens Saturday 4 June to Sunday 2 October 2022.

Published: June 2nd 2022