CONTINUUM Winter Season Exhibition

12 November–12 December 2015

Exhibition open Thursday - Sunday, 12pm - 5pm.

Preview Thursday 12 November, 6.30 - 8.30pm.

Open weekend with performance by Alastair MacLennan, talks, workshops and tours 21 - 22 November, 11am - 5pm.

An exhibition of mainly paintings which reflects on the ripple of influence through generations as artists learn from each other.

Joyce Cairns, James Cowie, Joan Eardley, Ian Fleming, Michael Fullerton, Jack Knox, Alastair MacLennan (who will make a performance entitled BERTH  AN  EARTH on the 21 of November), Victoria Morton, Lil Neilson, Anda Paterson.

CONTINUUM is an exhibition that has two starting points; one is a painting made by James Cowie in 1938, the first year of a ten year period living and teaching at Hospitalfield. The painting depicts Cowie’s two daughters and several artists working at Hospitalfield on a warm summer’s day. Entitled An Outdoor School of Painting, the composition includes the portrayal of young graduate artists who were to become very well-known beyond Scotland; Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde. A recent exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art provided a renewed look at the work of these two artists. They were admirers of Cowie but spent a good deal of time, so it goes, arguing with him about art. In this painting Cowie seems to be attempting to picture a sort of utopia – a perfect and above all, safe, green place of learning. Later that year Colquhoun and MacBryde head for Paris, a city on the verge of war. This warm east coast day must have seemed like a dream.

The other starting point is embedded somewhere in a series of conversations with artists, Victoria Morton and Michael Fullerton reflecting on the artist/teachers who most influenced them. Morton and Fullerton have been remembering their conversations on painting with the late Jack Knox, then Head of Painting at Glasgow School of Art, conversations had at the same time when they were both feeling the new exciting pull of conceptual art that was an essential magnet in the early 1990s. 1989/90 stands as another date that changed everything, a time that invited the opportunity to throw off the idea of something essentially Scottish, a new generation wishing to join a wider debate and a more internationally felt sphere of influence as borders became easier to cross. Morton and Fullerton still value Knox’s robust enthusiasm on the craft of painting, their luck perhaps was to have been students at a time of change.

The argument that Cowie was having with MacBryde is recognisable within every generation with the unstoppable energy to push on to something new. The relationships between one generation of artists teaching the next, the continuous line of influence, is something not to be underestimated. We see little formal connection between the work of Anda Paterson and Victoria Morton and yet Morton, who was taught by Paterson at school, claims that without this influence she would not be an artist now.

The trend to focus on a particular grouping of artists, perhaps from a specific school or from a particular time emerges from an anxiety to establish perspective before the landscape even exists. There is always someone willing to suggest that they can see a pattern forming, and maybe they can, but let’s not deny that there is something fundamental about how artists are formed by what went just before them. The thread that runs insistently through this exhibition is the important continuum, from one generation to the next, of the role of teaching and teachers.

Alastair MacLennan graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone and then went on to have a huge influence through his art but also through his teaching roles in Glasgow and Belfast. We are delighted that as part of this exhibition he will give a performance on 21 November somewhere in the grounds of Hospitalfield. Location to be confirmed.

More about James Cowie’s An Outdoor School of Painting on Tate’s website…

Image: 1956 at Hospitalfield:
Left to right (standing) Isabella Colville (McAslan), Glasgow; Michael Gill, Aberdeen; Dick Hunter, Dundee; Ian McCulloch,Glasgow; James Spence, Glasgow.
Left to right (seated) Rosaleen Orr, Glasgow; Anda Paterson (Spence) Glasgow; Ewen McAslan, Glasgow.


Saturday 21 November

11am: Drawing Workshop inspired by Lil Neilson’s Daily Drawings.

2pm: Alastair MacLennan performance BERTH AN EARTH, in Hospitalfield’s grounds.


Sunday 22 November

11am: Alastair MacLennan discussion event with Roderick Buchanan.

2pm: Writer and artist Timothy Neat on the painter and educator Jack Knox.


Alastair MacLennan statement about the new performance he made at Hospitalfield on 22 November 2015.

As water’s ‘forms’ appear, in nature, as blocks of ice, liquid or steam, depending on specifics of climatic and geographic conditions, one employs flexibility in evoking liminal transitions in ‘unfixed’ form(s), in situ.


Workshop inspired by Lil Neilson’s Daily Drawings. A series of fast, energetic and intuitive drawings are on display within the CONTINUUM exhibition which Lil Neilson (who lived at Catterline) made during the month of August in 1994.

The first project that Lil did each day was these drawings in ballpoint pen, pencil and paint on basic A4 printer paper. She had an aspiration that she would show the drawings in an exhibition with a photocopier so that the audience could copy and therefor take away images of the drawings.

It is clear to see in the progression of the drawings exhibited that Lil was also thinking about how to copy, re-jig and develop her compositions during this process. In this drawing activity participants were invited to work with A4 paper, coloured ballpoint pens and a copier to experiment with making their own daily drawings.


Hospitalfield is working with Arbroath Academy pupils and Gray’s School of Art students on the preparation and hosting of this exhibition.




Angus Council Museums Collection

Maggie’s Trust

Royal Scottish Academy


University of Dundee

University of Edinburgh

University of Stirling

We would also like to extend our gratitude to the private individuals and artists who lent work for this exhibition and those who gave advice including Ann Steed, Mae McKenzie Smith and Ian McKenzie Smith.


James Cowie

1886 – 1956

A student at Glasgow School of Art from 1912-14, James Cowie was traditionally trained, where his practice was inspired by the old masters. The popular style at the time after his graduation was of the Scottish colourists, however Cowie moved away from this movement and developed his own strong linear style that is considered highly disciplined, this lead to him becoming one of the most influential Scottish modern painters of the time. In 1938, he became the Warden of Hospitalfield, where he held the position for 10 years, in which time he taught many artists one of whom included the painter Joan Eardley.

Ian Fleming

1906 – 1994

Having studied painting at Glasgow School of Art in the 1920, Fleming became a notable artist and engraver. In 1948 Fleming succeeded James Cowie in the role of Warden at Hospitalfield. His time at Hospitalfield inspired a series of work based upon the surrounding area of Arbroath.

Joan Eardley

1921 – 1963

After completing her diploma at Glasgow School of Art in 1943, she attended Hospitalfield in the summer of 1947, where she was taught by the warden at the time, James Cowie. Cowie, had much influence over her choice of subject matter from the every day. Although Cowie influenced her subject matter, Eardley developed a more earthy and expressive method to her work.

Anda Paterson

Born 1935

Paterson’s work mainly consists of paintings, drawings and etchings, her work closely explores both human and animal forms. Having studied at Glasgow School in the early 1950s. She came to Hospitalfield in the summer of 1956 where she met her fellow contemporary peer Jack Knox.

Jack Knox

1936 – 2015

Following his graduation from Glasgow School of Art, in the late 1950s, Knox attended Hospitalfield initially in 1956 and then again the following year. Knox had a similar approach to Cowie’s method of creating a structured composition before painting. Both artist considered drawing as fundamental within their practice.

Lil Neilson

1938 – 1998

Neilson came to Hospitalfield for a summer residency after finishing her diploma at Duncan of Jordanstone in 1960. It was at this time Neilson was introduced to Joan Eardley, where they became friends, and shared correspondence till Eardley’s death in 1963. During her time at Hospitalfiled she was influenced by the landscape of Arbroath, as we can see in much of her work long after leaving the area and when she was later based at Catterline.

Alastair MacLennan

Born 1943

MacLennan came to Hospitalfield in 1965, the year after his graduation from Duncan of Jordanstone and before he left for postgraduate study in Chicago. His work looks into political, social, religious, ethical and aesthetic questions and he is one of Britain’s most respected practitioners of performance art.

Joyce Cairns

Born 1947

Cairns studied painting at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen between 1966 and 71 and came to Hospitalfield during this time in 1969. After going on to postgraduate study at the Royal College of Art and Goldsmiths for her Art Teacher’s Certificate Course she returned to Aberdeen and taught there until 2004.  Her work stems mainly from autobiographical sources including considerations of her father’s wartime experiences.

Victoria Morton

Born 1971

From Morton’s interaction with Anda Paterson as a student in secondary school, she went on to study painting under Jack Knox at Glasgow School of Art, graduating in 1995. Her work is deeply involved in process, and often challenges the constraints of the “frame”.

Michael Fullerton

Born 1971

Fullerton studied alongside Victoria Morton at Glasgow School of Art under the tutorage of Jack Knox. As with Victoria Morton, Fullerton has a cross-disciplinary approach to his work. Influenced by his tutor Jack Knox, Fullerton retained the subject matter of portraiture, but challenges many of its traditional assumptions.

With thanks to Gray’s School of Art Contemporary Art Practice and Painting students for preparing these biographies and their investigation of the connection between each of the artists.


Timothy Neat

Timothy Neat is a Scottish writer, film maker, photographer, teacher and art historian. Brought up in North Cornwall, he was a boarder at Launceston College 1955/63. After an Honours Degree in Fine Art at the University of Leeds (1963/67) Neat moved to Scotland (home of his maternal ancestors) to take up a teaching post at Lendrick Muir School, Perthshire (a mixed residential school for Maladjusted Children of High Intelligence). From 1970-73 Neat lectured in the History of Art and Liberal Studies at Plymouth College of Art and Design, England. In 1973 he was appointed art historian at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, Scotland. Since 1989 he has worked as a film maker and author, from his home in North Fife.

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