Visual Arts Scotland is a leading platform for national and international contemporary fine and applied artists. Originally an organisation for women artists, the society since the 1980s has championed craft makers, designers and applied arts practitioners. Their relationship with contemporary fine art practice is at the heart of Visual Arts Scotland's mission today.
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.
We boast a vibrant, active and participatory membership of over 700 practising artists, for whom we provide a platform - primarily for the showing and developing new work. Members and non-members alike are welcome to submit work for selection at our prestigious annual exhibitions, to show alongside invited artists and emerging talent, at the imposing Academy building on the Mound in Edinburgh.
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.
The President and Council are elected by the membership to represent the wide array of disciplines that VAS promotes.
From 2001 to 2011 Sir Mark Jones was Director of the V&A, where he led a ten-year programme of renewal of the museum’s buildings and displays, and established a strong programme of design-focused exhibitions, seen all around the world. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, an Honorary Professor at Edinburgh University, and was awarded a knighthood in 2010 for services to the arts.
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 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.
Harry Martin is an interdisciplinary designer and artist, and a late graduate of the Glasgow School of Art. He works for multiple clients across a wide range of mediums, developing brand identity and promotion across print and digital channels. Harry's notable contributions to Visual Arts Scotland include the Emergency Art Worker's Support Fund, Friday Forum series and SSA VAS: OPEN exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy. He has been on the council since March 2019.View Artist Profile
Susie Leiper is a calligrapher and painter who works on anything from vast walls and canvases to tiny artist books. Chinese art and the mountain are her principal inspirations. Susie lives and works in Edinburgh.View Artist Profile
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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Lucilla is a primarily a painter and also makes 3D constructions using found objects. Her work explores the residues of past lives and culture and is influenced by the patterns of weather, geology and archaeology in the landscape. Lucilla lives and works in Edinburgh.View Artist Profile
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.View Artist Profile
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.View Artist Profile
Mella Shaw is a ceramic artist making thought-provoking objects and site-specific installations around environmental themes of balance, tipping points, fragility and loss. With a background in anthropology, museums and the study of material culture Mella is drawn to the way objects can be imbued with shared cultural meaning. Her work is held in a number of public and private collections both nationally and internationally. Mella holds a master’s in Ceramics and Glass from the Royal College of Art (London) and is a visiting lecturer at Central Saint Martins (London), a visiting tutor at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and Edinburgh Ceramics Workshop as well as being a freelance curator and writer.View Artist Profile
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 has recently exhibited at RSA New Contemporaries 2020.
Julie-Ann Simpson is a painter from Aberdeen, currently based in Glasgow. Since graduating from Gray’s School of Art in 2014, she returned to the painting department in a teaching role and also worked at Grampian Hospitals Art Trust before relocating to Glasgow. She is a previous recipient of the Visual Arts and Craft Makers Awards, Hope Scott Trust Award and RSA Guthrie Award and Medal for painting both in 2014 and 2019. She is an elected professional member of Visual Arts Scotland and currently sits on their Council.
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As a painter, Julie-Ann Simpson is interested in the porous boundaries between interior and exterior spaces, dreams and reality. The paintings sit in that transitional place, often beginning as
representations, but eventually seem to slip into ambiguous afterimages. Simpson’s latest body of work, developed from a two-month residency in Yamanashi, Japan, considers our interrelationship with the natural world bringing together ideas of imagination, ritual, memory, pleasure and language.