St Andrews is a beautiful place. One might even say that it is picturesque in the most literal sense; a place that replicates art and cultivates its own aesthetic to the extent that the location has become a foundation of the art process itself. Many photographers, painters and sculptors have needed only to look at the historic ruins or the expansive beaches to find the central inspiration for their work. So in the overly hectic life of the average student, why would one take the trouble to go to a gallery when they need only admire the real-life canvas of St Andrews?

Going to art galleries is a deeply cathartic and enjoyable experience. So much gratification can be derived from going to a specific place, solely for the purpose of viewing and appreciating art. It is in this concentrated creative atmosphere that some of the most enriching life experiences take place. Art galleries provide a productive break from academics, an opportunity for creative engagement and for the fine tuning of artistic tastes.

This article seeks to suggest three destinations – in St Andrews, Edinburgh and Dundee – where such experiences can be had.

Fraser Gallery

Courtesy of Eduardo Alessandro Studios
Courtesy of Eduardo Alessandro Studios

St Andrews, 53 South Street

As you walk into the ground floor of this traditional townhouse, you will be struck by the vibrant colours, energy and skill. This gallery, located

in the heart of St Andrews, is a unique and intimate space. Although it is ostensibly very small, it actually consists of a series of adjoining rooms, giving the gallery a very homely feel. This differentiates it from the white-washed, negligible décor of most galleries.

Instead of viewing gallery design as something that detracts from the works on show, the Fraser Gallery uses its space in a way that compliments the art it exhibits. It is in this welcoming atmosphere that one can enjoy the eclectic mix of contemporary art, with pieces ranging from figurative to abstract. Indeed, the gallery’s aim is to “exhibit a range of works that will appeal to as wide an audience as possible”.

Not only is the curation stylish, varied, and stimulating, but the works are also refreshed on a regular basis. The gallery has showcased some ofthe most prominent contemporary Scottish artists, including Francis Boag, Robert Macmillan, Malcolm Cheape, and John Kingsley. Definitely worth a visit.

Collective

Edinburgh, 38 Calton Hill 

Situated in the centre of Edinburgh and only a few minutes walk from Waverly station, this gallery is the perfect destination for a day out of the bubble, especially as Carlton Hill boasts beautiful views of Leith, the Firth of Forth and Arthur’s seat.

The gallery has a programme of exhibitions, walks, events and off-site projects that present contemporary art in all its diversity. Its aim is to support emerging artists early on in their career, offering many commissions to young artists. An example of one such artist is Hamish Young, whose work is the current featured exhibition, Excavation, which will last till the 20th November.

Collective Gallery. Courtesy of Collective.
Collective Gallery. Courtesy of Collective.

The exhibition comprises of carved marble sculptures and a series of screen prints made with residual marble dust. It reflects on the process of excavation and, in a broader metaphorical sense, the process of creating art from a single concept. He focuses on one material throughout: its production, materiality and relationship to labourers. This deconstructs the complexity of the building process and elicits curiosity about the material’s history and its significance in human society.

Collective has evolved to become a progressive artist-run organisation, with special emphasis on collaboration and experimentation. This business model makes the gallery fundamental to the cultural and artistic vitality of Scotland, as it promotes artists in the most crucial stages of their development. And for the audience, the experience provided is unique because the art it exhibits is entirely new.

Katy Dove, Untitled. Courtesy of DCA.
Katy Dove, Untitled. Courtesy of DCA.

DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts)

Dundee, 152 Nethergate

Rather like the Fraser gallery, DCA tries to make the art gallery experience more meaningful to the everyday viewer. It has a strong reputation for supporting young artistic talent and has been credited with exhibiting the works of many Turner Prize winning artists before they received wider exposure.

Exhibitions include: early Scottish artists, works by international artists who have not yet exhibited their work in the UK, or works linked to other art forms, like the annual Discover Film Festival. Because of the fact that much of the work shown has not been seen before, the gallery is a cultural site for audiences across the UK.

The current featured event is a memorial exhibition of Katy Dove, showing her pastel colour-schemed drawings, collages, paintings, prints and animations. The overall impression of this exhibit is that it creates a meditative space to contemplate the colours used in her combined works. Very thought-provoking; a must-see.

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