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Nation//Live

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh
October 5th-May 4th 2014
When a bust of the late trade union activist Jimmy Reid was removed from the Scottish National portrait gallery and taken around cross-general communities in Clydebank, where Reid co-led the famous ship-builders work-in on 1971 and 1972, it led to a voice drama being performed on the site of the former John Brown Shipyard on Mayday 2012. The performance was one of five major projects developed as part of Nation//Live, the Scottish National Portrait gallery's first major outreach project since the gallery's refurbishment.

“Some people think museums are just about dead people,” explains the SNPG's Chief Outreach Officer, Robin Baillie, "and all about kings and queens, but we wanted to have people explore their own history and make it relevant to today.”

Based around five themes that have shaped modern Scotland – Work, Union, Faith, Civil War and Roots – Nation//Live put artists into relevant communities with an exhibit taken from the SNPG collection to explore each theme. The results of the two-year project include a dance piece created on Skye in response to St Columbia’s relationship with the island, the casting of bronze medals in Fort George, and a 10” vinyl album of folk songs featuring voices from Scotland, Africa and Poland and led by Drew Wright, aka twenty-first century folklorist, Wounded Knee.

. All of this is documented in a film by Daniel Warren which will form the centrepiece of a show that aims to bring history to life while looking firmly forward.

The List, September 2013

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