Scotland has a long and complex relationship with the sea - its landscape, history and culture have been shaped by proximity to the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Over the centuries artists have responded to this influence in various ways. Some have portrayed significant maritime events such as the Battle of Trafalgar or the arrival of King George IV into Leith harbour in 1822. Some have focused on recording the day-to-day experiences of coastal communities, from the lives of the 19th century fisher families based in Newhaven to the heavy industry of 20th century shipyards. Others have responded to the mythology, folklore and traditions associated with Scotland’s seafaring heritage.
Meanwhile, many artists have sought to capture the more elemental character of the sea, depicting its rich natural environment and unpredictable changes in mood. In these artworks, ferocious storms contrast with scenes of sublime beauty. The tensions inherent in our understanding of the sea, as a simultaneous source of wonder, industry and danger, are a recurring motif.
The Artist & the Sea explores these themes and their interpretation by a range of different artists. Selected from the City Art Centre’s collection of historic and contemporary Scottish art, the exhibition contains examples of painting, drawing, printmaking, photography and sculpture. Featured artists include John Bellany, William McTaggart, Joan Eardley and Elizabeth Ogilvie.