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Referendum in the spotlight at new University exhibition

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Sarah Bromage
Sarah Bromage from the University of Stirling with "Yes or No?" - the painting by artist Nicole Porter which forms part of "Scotland Decides". The exhibition is running at the University library, at its main campus in Stirling, until 30 September.

The referendum on Scottish Independence is the subject of a new exhibition at the University of Stirling.

“Scotland Decides” includes giant sized Tweets on the subject of the September 18 poll, a painting by Aberdeen-based artist Nicole Porter, and archive material from the current and previous referendums.

The display has been organised by the Scottish Political Archive (SPA), which is based at the University, in association with the University’s Art Collection and Creative Stirling. It is running in the library at the University's main campus in Stirling until 30 September.

A key part of the exhibition is a display of Twitter posts written by artists, writers, musicians and members of the public - writing for and against the union.

The musings – 140 characters or less – have been blown up onto giant pieces of paper. The resulting artworks were developed as part of Creative Stirling’s Solar Fields’ project.

Posts include:

  • “Dependence is for kids”
  • “Birds don’t recognise borders”  and
  • “Caledonia! You’re calling me, but I’m not in, so please leave a message and I’ll come back to you.”

SPA Archivist Sarah Bromage said: “We’re delighted to be hosting this exhibition at the University. Since it was launched in 2010, our Political Archive has been collecting material from the 1979 and 1997 devolution referendums. We’ve also have been actively collecting archive material for the forthcoming referendum for over a year now. Campaign materials from all three are now on show in the University library as part of this new exhibition.

“We’re also hoping to inspire a bit of debate by showcasing our collections alongside Creative Stirling Solar Fields project. As part of this project people were asked about their hopes and fears about a post-referendum Scotland and asked to post comments on Twitter.

“Hopefully, the resulting artworks featuring their statements - for and against the union - will make people think about the decision they face on 18 September.”

She added: “Among all the words we also have a solitary – but quite wonderful painting – by Nicole Porter entitled ‘Yes or No?’ showing people lining up to vote at a polling station.”

Ms Porter, an award-winning painter, said: “Living in Scotland the debate of whether Scotland should become independent from the rest of the UK is a massive decision facing Scottish resident in September this year. 

“Regardless of the result, the referendum will be recorded in the history books of our nation.  As an artist, I felt compelled to respond creatively and document this occasion in my own language of painting. With so many people undecided on how they will vote, I deliberately made the painting so that it wasn’t for or against.  I hope to engender more debate about the topic and encourage people to participate.”

  • “Scotland Decides” is at the University’s main library in Stirling until 30 September. Currently the library is open Mondays to Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Members of the public are welcome to visit. Admission is free.
  • The Scottish Political Archive is actively collecting photographs and campaign material from both sides of the debate in advance of this September’s referendum.  If you are interested in helping the Archive collect material to document this important event please contact Sarah Bromage at 
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