Scottish Arts Council Bequest

The Scottish Arts Council (SAC) Collecting Initiative was launched in May 1996. Its aim was to gift the two thousand works which formed the SAC art collection to Scottish museums and galleries. The main purpose of the dispersal of the collection was to make the works more readily accessible to the public and to encourage museums and galleries to collect more contemporary Scottish art.

The SAC collection which was begun in the 1950s, contains paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, installations and tapestries.

Museums and galleries had to be registered with the Museums and Galleries Commission to be eligible to apply to take part in the scheme.

Curators were invited to apply for works which they believed would either enhance their existing collections or would enable them to develop new areas of collecting that still fell within their agreed collecting policy.

After curators from all round Scotland had viewed the works in Edinburgh, written application proposals were put forward for consideration. The University of Stirling decided to target the Edinburgh School of artists: William Gillies, Anne Redpath, Robin Philipson, John Maxwell and William MacTaggart. We already owned work by three of the five artists and it seemed important to have work on display by all members of the group. Other requests were for further works by prominent artists already in the collection for example John Bellany, Elizabeth Blackadder, John Houston, Alberto Morrocco and James Morrison.

The fierce competition expected did not deter us from bidding for a Joan Eardley seascape, and finally requests for works by younger artists such as Olivia Irvine and Fionna Carlisle were also included.

We learned on 1st October 1997 that the list of works that the SAC had decided to give the University was impressive. Eighteen works were to be donated, including many of those that we had categorised as essential to the collection. The list included John Bellany, Elizabeth Blackadder, Fionna Carlisle, David Donaldson, Joan Eardley, John Houston, William MacTaggart, David Michie, James Morrison, Alberto Morrocco and Anne Redpath.

This gift hastened a planned Pathfoot Concourse Gallery and the exhibition of newly acquired works in their refurbished setting was opened on 25th March 1998.

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