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£100,000 funding boost for University’s art collection

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"Red Shawl" by JD Fergusson - one of the amazing artworks on display at the University of Stirling. Copyright: The Fergusson Gallery, Perth and Kinross Council.

THE art collection at the University of Stirling has been given a funding boost.

The institution has a wealth of paintings and sculptures on public display. It also stages regular free exhibitions, mostly centred around the Pathfoot Building on its main Stirling campus.

In recent months, staff have secured around £100,000 of funding to support the development of the University art collection. The grants have included:

  • £57,500 (£11,500 per year for the next five years) from the Scottish Funding Council;
  • £17,000 from the Robertson Trust and £14,000 from Museum Galleries Scotland (MGS) to fund audience development work;
  • just over £7,000 from MGS to purchase new retail display cases;
  • more than £2,200 from MGS to help improve the collection’s online presence; and
  • £2,625 from MGS towards an oral history project.

Kerry Bryson, the Director of Development and External Affairs at the University, said: "We're delighted to receive these awards from the Scottish Funding Council, Museums Galleries Scotland and the Robertson Trust. They will help us raise awareness of the University’s art collection and the facilities we offer to visitors - and hopefully attract even more members of the public to enjoy the wonderful works of art we have on show at Stirling. If you haven't seen the fantastic pieces we have on campus, please pay us a visit.

“Our main displays in our Pathfoot Building in Stirling are open seven days a week. Admission is free. Full details are on our website:”

The tradition of collecting art at the University goes back to the founding of the University in 1967, when Professor Tom Cottrell was the first Principal.

A scientist by training, he came from an artistic background and had very clear ideas about art and its place in society. He felt that art should be part of the everyday experience at the University and this vision began to take shape when Stirling was gifted a collection of the late Fergusson's work by the artist's partner, Margaret Morris and the J D Fergusson Arts Foundation.

From these origins, the Art Collection has grown substantially and, more than 40 years later, the University now has a diverse range on display - with over 300 works covering a broad spectrum of modern Scottish painting, sketches, tapestries, silver and sculpture.

Included are works by distinguished artists like John Bellany, Elizabeth Blackadder, Alan Davie, Joan Eardley, Eduardo Paolozzi and Anne Redpath. There are also regular temporary exhibitions by invited artists and of items from the University Archives. The University's policy of continuing to attain new works remains a priority and ensures that new art is continually being acquired and displayed on campus.

The Scottish Funding Council announced its support for the University’s art collection on International Museum Day. The Stirling grant was part of a national award to University museums, galleries and collections in Scotland, totalling £6 million over the next five academic years.

Laurence Howells, Interim Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: "University museums, galleries and collections are an important cultural resource for the nation and the Funding Council is pleased to be able to help look after these collections for future generations. The Art Collection at Stirling deserves wider recognition and I hope more people will be encouraged to enjoy what it offers.”

Neil Curtis, Convenor of University Museums in Scotland, said: "Universities care for a high proportion of the nation's museum collections, enabling them to be used not only for innovative research and teaching, but also welcoming many thousands of visitors through exhibitions, services for schools and public events."

Joanne Orr, Chief Executive of Museums Galleries Scotland, said: “We are pleased to support the University of Stirling’s ambitions to make their collection more accessible to visitors. By raising awareness of their wonderful art collection they can really inspire more people to come and enjoy this valuable amenity on their doorstep.”

Kenneth Ferguson, Director of The Robertson Trust, said: “The Robertson Trust is delighted to be able to provide support for the Learning and Audience Development Curator who will use the University's unique art collection to inspire young people as part of their plans for an outreach programme, including sculpture classes and arts workshops.”

For more about the University art collection, see .  The current exhibition, showcasing the Forth Valley Open Studios Festival, runs until July 31 (see ).

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