Latitudes: Recent work from RSA Award Winners

Exhibitors: Sara Alonso | Ronald Binnie | Sam Drake | Richard Goldsworthy | Steven Grainger | Lily Macrae | Blair McLaughlin | Aidan Stephen


The Royal Scottish Academy presents Latitudes, an exhibition celebrating the far-reaching scope of recent work by the winners of RSA awards. Every year, the Royal Scottish Academy distributes over £100,000 to artists to support excellence in the visual arts in Scotland. With awards for artists at all stages of their careers, the RSA’s Opportunities programme offers scholarships, bursaries and grants to help artists throughout Scotland forge successful practices from their student years through to graduation and beyond.


Partnerships with artists’ estates have long played a part in the history of the Academy’s support of new research. Long-standing initiatives with the estates of Sir William Gillies RSA and John Kinross RSA have enabled graduates and established artist alike almost fifty years of support for funded travel. Older funds such as the Carnegie Travelling Scholarship (initiated from a personal gift to the Academy by Dunfermline-born Scottish American Andrew Carnegie) have provided more than a century of support to artists to travel and make new works. Today, in 2021, further new legacies are being developed and introduced to broaden and develop the range of initiatives the Academy can offer to artists of all ages.


It is a very special opportunity for an artist to offer a helping hand to other artists and even more so when this support is a gift from their legacy. Artists recognise most acutely this necessity for support throughout their career. In a world where support for artists is often perceived to be complicated by bureaucracy, red tape, cronyism, form-filling and hoop-jumping, we must appreciate the understanding and drive shown by these artist-legacy providers and their families towards supporting peers and colleagues within the art world. For projects to happen, artists need this crucial support to enable time away from the ever-present necessity of generating an income.


There are three artists showing here whose projects have been made possible by the estates of William Littlejohn RSA, David Michie RSA and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham HRSA. These funds have enabled travel and studio practice and it is wonderful to see these results here today. Items from this selection will also be accessioned into the RSA Collections and form a vital link between the Academicians own practice and their ongoing legacy.


Latitudes also includes works by several winners of the RSA Pandemic Award 2020, a monetary award created to assist artists with the continuation of their practices during the Covid-19 crisis. The RSA awarded a total of £30,000 through this award, with 12 artists receiving £2,500 to research, develop and create new work in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.



RSA Director, Colin R Greenslade writes: ‘Latitudes’ begins a year in which we will celebrate artist research and, in particular, forty years of the RSA John Kinross Scholarships - funding research initiatives for ten graduating artists and architects to Florence annually. This exhibition also reinforces to us that 2020 was one of the most challenging years in living history – not that we require reminding of such at present. Artists show us paths of experience and reinterpret this knowledge into a visual language for us to contemplate our own place in the world. We have all had that time to contemplate of late and re-assess what our lives, and those with whom we share it, means to us.
‘Latitudes’ takes us into these realms in a range of media and from a breadth of sources. Travel, isolation, loss, reflection and re-engagement all feature here and the results are truly wonderful.
The Royal Scottish Academy is indebted to our partners at The Barns-Graham Trust, and the families of David Michie RSA and William Littlejohn RSA in assisting us to offer these vital opportunities on an annual basis. We are also very thankful to the supporters of the Pandemic Award which has given significant opportunity to artists to produce work which chronicles these most difficult of times.