Art review: RSA New Contemporaries 2019, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh

Every year I look forward to the RSA New Contemporaries. It always fizzes with energy. Here are the young showing us how, while the so-called grown-ups drag us through the grisly farce of Brexit. Nor does this year disappoint. There are 63 new graduates including a small group of architects. The show is on both floors of the RSA and so there is room for them each to have their own bit of wall or floor. Thus their work is not scattered and they can spread themselves out a little. One or two individual works have been in the recent group shows, but here the artists, among their peers, have a better chance to make a statement.

Detail from Way of Life by Whitney McVeigh PIC: Keith Hunter.

Kirsty Gunn: How the new Whitney McVeigh exhibition at Mount Stuart shows us the “other” half of human experience

We think of an archive and we think of a room somewhere, closed off from the light of day and stacked top to bottom with papers and files and computers. Politics, History, Economics… these are the kinds of subject areas that fill most archives in most places, representing a past that, on the whole, was dominated by men, in a world that went about its business as though women had little to do with it.

A suit of samurai armour' in the Exploring East Asia gallery at the National Museum of Scotland

Art review: Exploring East Asia, Ancient Egypt Rediscovered and The Art of Ceramics, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

The National Museum of Scotland began life in 1866. Opened by Prince Albert, it was called the Industrial Museum of Scotland and was a product of the same drive, led by the Prince, that gave us the V&A and the other South Kensington museums, all conceived as engines of economically useful, popular education. Enlarging on the same Victorian purpose, the Museum then changed its name to the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art. In 1904 it changed its name again, but not really its purpose or character, to become the Royal Scottish Museum. In 1985 however, a development began that has, since then, changed it profoundly. The Royal Scottish Museum, as it then still was, absorbed the National Museum of Antiquities, the collection of the Society of Scottish Antiquities that had been started two centuries earlier. This accession in turn eventually prompted the wholly new building of the Museum of Scotland, joined onto the western end of the old building and opened in 1998. Then finally in 2004, a project was launched to reorganise the original Victorian building and completely transform all the displays. The first step was to create a new entrance at street-level and indeed the new ground floor onto which it opens. Much else has happened since as this radical process of renewal was taken up through the building’s many layers and spaces.

Katie Paterson PIC: Scott Louden

Ones to watch in 2019: Katie Paterson, artist

Katie Paterson grapples with some of the biggest ideas in cosmology and deep time and offers up work which helps make them more understandable, whether that’s on a beach or in a gallery. Interview by Susan Mansfield

Detail from Untitled no.4, 1998 by Paula Rego PIC: Copyright Paula Rego, Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

2019: The Year Ahead in Art

Optical illusions? Surrealist collages? Donegal carpets? You’ll find all these things and more in Scotland’s galleries in the year ahead, write Susan Mansfield and Duncan Macmillan

Iain Morrison and his band perform Sal: PIC: Christian Cooksey/Braeside Photography

Music / Art reviews: Sal and Iolaire 100, An Lanntair, Stornoway

As First World War centenary commemorations draw to a close, the Outer Hebrides marks a special anniversary, for the aftermath of the war brought a particularly savage tragedy to these islands. On Hogmanay 1918, a yacht packed with returning servicemen sank after hitting rocks less than a mile from the harbour at Stornoway with the loss of 201 lives. For many years, the sinking of the Iolaire seemed a disaster too terrible to comprehend: men who had survived the war, drowned just yards from shore, even as their families joyfully awaited their return. On top of already heavy wartime losses the event would leave no community untouched, yet it was shored up behind a wall of silence. It was 1960 before a memorial was erected near the site of the sinking at the Beasts of Holm.

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