Whilst trying to escape the bubble on cultural pursuits, most St Andreans venture south to Edinburgh or west to Glasgow, and neglect our little neighbour to the north: Dundee. We tend to only risk the mean streets of Dundee for its wider retail opportunities or for the city’s curious nightlife.In terms of culture, Dundee’s artistic centre is based around the fantastic (and very familiar to me) Contemporary Arts Centre, which exhibits cutting-edge art all year long, and also houses a bookshop and cinema. For over two years, I was shamefully unaware of an addition creative centre found in the city’s elusive McManus Art Gallery and Museum. My ignorance of the gallery’s existence flies in the face of my avid interest in art, and of course, my role as The Saint’s Art & Design editor.
The McManus is a rather impressive building, resembling a Neo-Gothic Victorian church, yet was created as the city’s main museum, and is designed beautifully, with recent renovations. Upon my first visit, I was taken aback by such an impressive and varied collection of artworks. Highlights of the collection include the gorgeous ‘Victorian Gallery’ which apparently includes some of Scotland’s finest late-Victorian paintings. In the style of the era, the works are displayed on an ornate curved ceiling, which allows for effective and authentic viewing of the paintings. The collection ranges from some Georgian works, including Raeburn, the moralistic Pre-Raphaelites, the decorative Glasgow Boys, up to Edwardian war-time art including Lavery’s ‘The First Wounded’(1914).
The McManus Gallery’s permanent collection also includes a comprehensive exhibit of Paolozzi, one of Scotland’s most inventive artists, and a highly influential cultural figure in the 20th century. Included in this are some of his early Neo-Dada works, which would later influence the Pop Art movement, and his seminal work of sculptural abstraction ‘Jeepers Creepers’ (1971).
As Dundee’s creative personality continues to grow (what with the high-profile Victoria & Albert Museum opening next year), I urge everyone to take a visit to experience the McManus.
Currently, there is a photography exhibition “A Silvered Light” on at the McManus, which will be followed by an extensive exhibit, entitled “Through Smoke and Flame.”