A new exhibition, ‘Palimpsest’ featuring artwork by 24 leading artists from across Scotland and beyond opens Saturday 18 May at An Lanntair.

Originally inspired by the idea of Palimpsest, ‘something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form’, this exhibition includes a unique selection of artworks create in response to this concept.

The exhibition is the result of an ongoing partnership between the Society of Scottish Artists and An Lanntair arts centre.

Exhibition co-curator James Lumsden said; “In 2018, we launched an open call to artists to submit proposals for artwork to be included in this exhibition. We were overwhelmed by the response, not only from across Scotland but also internationally.

“The title and theme of the exhibition is Palimpsest. Throughout the medieval period, because of the commodity value of writing materials, it was common for vellum manuscripts to have the original text scraped-off and written over. With forensic and other techniques it became possible to reveal the original writing, which could be more significant than what came after.

“This idea suggests multiple possibilities for artists – from imagery which is layered, erased or re-worked to conceptual layers of thought or process and this can be seen in the diverse range of works in this exhibition.”

James divides his time working between studios in Edinburgh and Lower Bayble. In 2017 he co-curated with An Lanntair the ‘Làrach (A Hebrides Showcase)’ featuring work by nine artists living and working in Lewis and Harris and shown as part of the Society of Scottish Artists Annual Exhibition in Edinburgh.

Society of Scottish Artists President and Palimpsest co-curator Sharon Quigley said: “We’re delighted to collaborate with An Lanntair on this exhibition. We’re very excited to be bringing a selection of works by established and up and coming artists to Stornoway.

“The Society is a charity run by artists. Its members volunteer time and skills to organise exhibitions, residencies and development opportunities for fellow artists. We currently have over 1000 members; all artists are welcome to join.

“Historically, the Society’s focus has been its Annual Exhibition, held each year since 1851 in Edinburgh, it continues to be the biggest event in our programme, our last exhibition featured over 200 artists and attracted some 35,000 visitors.

“In recent years, the Society has made a firm commitment to reach new places and new audiences by creating partnerships with artists and organisations across Scotland and beyond. Working with An Lanntair has allowed us to offer an exciting new opportunity to our artist members.”

An Lanntair Head of Visual Arts & Literature Roddy Murray said: “It’s been a rewarding and constructive experience working with the Society of Scottish Artists and we’re thrilled to present their work in Stornoway. The Palimpsest concept is particularly appropriate and makes this an extensive, yet focused and directional exhibition. The cultural history of the Islands is written and overwritten on the land.”

Exhibiting Artists

Marion Archibald, Nina Bacos, Juliana Capes, Jessica Copping, Joan Doerr, Pippa Gatty, Su Grierson, Susie Leiper, David Lemm, Kirsty Lorenz, James Lumsden, Norman Macbeath, Gillian McFarland, Celine McIlmunn, Martin McKenna, Mary Morrison, Marcel O’Connor, Jenny Pope, Ray Rankine, David Smith, Gerry Smith, Karen Spy, Sonja Witts, Christine Wylie.

Mary Morrison is concerned with layers – of paint, pigment, paper, drawing and redrawing, scoring into the surface, and making visible traces of earlier decisions, semi erased or obliterated actions on paper, canvas or board. Led by a pursuit of ‘memory places’, she aims to evoke a sense of place through fluid paint effects combining graphic elements, annotation, grid lines, staves and maps.

Susie Leiper’s interest in documents, writing and the possibility of reusing vellum goes hand in hand with being a calligrapher. Having worked for almost ten years on new vellum for book pages and crown office peerages, Susie has recently turned her attention to old legal indentures on vellum. How can she repurpose these? What is transpiring is a series of ‘pages’, some exhibited singly, some of them bound into small artist books or stretched over wood to resemble abstract book covers.

Marcel O’Connor creates paintings built from a rich surface of layered wax, pigment and resin. The surface has been heat treated, scraped, scored and layered again with semi-translucent layers of bees wax and microcrystalline wax. The subject is the formalist composition and the ‘palimpsest’, the content is the process, the time, the evidence and the enigma of the final image.

Nina Bacos presents a collaborative project launched by Notes magazine, an artist led periodical devoted to contemporary Scottish photography. For each issue of the magazine an artist using photography is invited to create handmade envelopes to send out the journal to subscribers. Using different techniques such as collage, test strips, discarded prints, text, or by exposing the envelopes themselves. The envelopes are then addressed, scanned, printed and archived for future development.

Juliana Capes makes performances that use visual description as a form of drawing and it’s performance as a form of image making. For Palimpest she will make a performance inspired by the colours of the Hebridean sky that experiments with how a description can evolve and function in layers, each layer redrawing the layer underneath. ” Performance dates – 17th and 18th of May.