About

Visual Arts Scotland (VAS) is a leading platform for national and international contemporary artists.

The society was originally founded in 1924 as an organisation for women artists and since the 1980s has championed craftspeople, makers, designers and applied arts practitioners. Today, our membership is composed of fine and applied artists, celebrating the best in innovative contemporary visual arts. The conversation between disciplines - to encourage challenging and ambitious ideas - is at the heart of Visual Arts Scotland’s mission.

VAS has a vibrant, active and participatory membership of over 800 practising artists. The society provides a platform to support and connect them, and to showcase their work. Members and non-members alike are welcome to submit work for our prestigious Annual Exhibition. 

Our Annual Exhibition offers the opportunity for emerging and established practitioners to showcase new and unseen work and engage with a wider public; to generate debate, to test out and exhibit challenging and ambitious ideas within the context of Scottish and international culture. 

Our membership categories cater for artists at all stages in their careers, whether new graduates, emerging artists or established practitioners. All are welcome to contribute to the continuing development of Visual Arts Scotland. 

WHO WE ARE

The President and Council are elected by the membership to represent the wide array of disciplines that VAS promotes.

Sarah Calmus

Sarah Calmus

President

Sarah Calmus is an interdisciplinary artist, arts programmer and educator, currently based in Edinburgh. Hailing from Essex, Calmus moved to Dundee to study at Duncan of Jordanstone School of Art and Design. Calmus graduated in 2014 in Art, Philosophy and Contemporary Practices where she has participated, organised and been selected for over 40 joint exhibitions, residencies, events and interventions, predominantly in Scotland.

Sarah is a freelancer in educational facilitation and events with Look and Draw, Edinburgh Council, The Mary Erskine School and works for MCLCreate building pop up events. Calmus has been involved with The Hidden Door Festival since 2015 and was elected to join the Council of Visual Arts Scotland in spring 2019.

 

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Amanda Airey

Amanda Airey

Vice President

Amanda Airey has worked in the creative sector for over 20 years in a number of roles from bid writing, economic development and strategy. A fine art graduate, she continues her art practice focusing mainly on landscape and the natural world. She currently works at the Edinburgh Art Festival. 

 

 
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Toni Harrower

Toni Harrower

Vice President

Toni Harrower is an abstract painter who loves working in a range of mediums from oil paint to resin. A celebration of colour and the enjoyment of paint are the basic ingredients in her work. Toni is now a full-time artist living and working in Moray, graduating from Gray’s School of Art in 2016.


Rowan Paton

Rowan Paton

Administrator

Before becoming the Administrator for Visual Arts Scotland, Rowan - a painter - was also a professional member and then a council member assisitng with social media, satelite shows, curation & press.

 

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Julie-Ann Simpson

Julie-Ann Simpson

Communications Manager

Julie-Ann Simpson is a painter from Aberdeen, currently based in Glasgow. She is an elected Professional Member of Visual Arts Scotland.  Within her work, she often thinks about the occult, our relationship with the natural world as well as imagination, ritual, memory, pleasure and language.

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Eleanor Whitworth

Eleanor Whitworth

Council Member

Eleanor Whitworth is a contemporary jeweller based in Glasgow. She graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 2019, and has been making for and exhibiting in venues around the UK and Europe ever since. Her work surrounds the human relationship with the natural world- the enjoyment of seeking it and the scientific desire to collect and research on it. 


Siusan Patterson

Siusan Patterson

Council Member

Siusan Patterson graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2019 with a BA(Hons) in Fine Art. Her large-scale figurative paintings are an exuberant take on the female form, playfully incorporating contemporary narratives with mythological and historical representations. Siusan is the recipient of the Royal Scottish Academy 195th Annual exhibition SABA award 2021. 

 


Ian Farmer

Ian Farmer

Council Member

Ian was born in Harlow, Essex and moved to Edinburgh thirty years ago. He is a freelance graphic designer with 36 years experience, many of which were spent managing the design unit at the City of Edinburgh Council. Thirteen years ago he set up his freelance practice, Upright Creative, specialising in public and arts sector projects. In addition, Ian is the owner and curator of Upright Gallery in Edinburgh. The gallery has been exhibiting contemporary art for five years, concentrating on up and coming talent. Ian lives in Edinburgh with his partner and cat. He has two grown-up sons, likes cycling and a good natter.


Julie Barnes

Julie Barnes

Council Member

Julie is an expressionist, narrative painter. Her paintings often have a dream like quality and seek the recreation of experiences in the viewer through radiant colour, line and composition. She uses gold and silver leaf to enhance applied oils or acrylic to achieve a rich texture.

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Karen Maxted

Karen Maxted

Council Member

Karen graduated from Eca in 2018 and is based in Troon, Ayrshire. She is interested in mark making and works using collage - translating draft collections of marks into paintings and wooden and metal wall sculptures.

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Lynsey MacKenzie

Lynsey MacKenzie

Council Member

Lynsey MacKenzie initially graduated with a degree in Law, but returned to art, studying on the Painting Course at the Leith School of Art from 2014 to 2016 where she was awarded the Painting Prize. She then graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2019 with a 1st Class BA (Hons) in Painting & Printmaking. She is a Visual Arts Scotland Graduate Showcase Shortlisted Artist, was awarded the Great Art Award at the SSA/VAS OPEN Exhibition and exhibited at RSA New Contemporaries 2020.

 
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Annalisa Merrilees

Annalisa Merrilees

Council Member

Annalisa Merrilees is a Painter living and working in Edinburgh. Graduating from Gray’s School of Art in 2018, she was shortlisted for VAS Graduate Showcase. In 2020/21 she participated in Turps Art School’s Correspondence Course and has been selected as Graduate In Residence at Gray’s School of Art 2022/23.


Gabriella Carboni

Gabriella Carboni

Council Member

Gabriella Carboni is a painter and educator located in Los Angeles, California. Originally from Boston Massachusetts, with Scottish roots, Gabriella received her undergraduate degree in Studio Art from Skidmore College, and her MFA in Painting from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her work focuses on intimacy, kinship, comfort, touch, and connection. Gabriella teaches at ArtCenter College of Design and Armory Center for the Arts.