Then & Now: 100 Years Of VAS - Centenary Exhibition

Jan 23rd 2024

On a winter’s eve in Edinburgh, 1924, Visual Arts Scotland (VAS) held their first-ever meeting, becoming early pioneers of inclusivity within Scotland’s artistic landscape. One-hundred years later, the organisation has grown into a leading platform for national and international artists and now celebrates its centenary with a year packed full of opportunities for its members.  

To kick off 2024’s celebrations, VAS are holding their biggest-ever exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, showcasing work from the finest contemporary artists across Scotland and beyond. Then and Now: 100 Years of Visual Arts Scotland will showcase 242 artists and over 300 artworks, with art ranging from ceramics, paintings, mixed media, photography, sculpture, and a variety of contemporary art forms.

The exhibition’s preview night takes place on Friday 16th of February 2024, 6pm - 8pm, giving creative enthusiasts an exclusive glimpse into the contemporary Scottish art scene. The exhibition will then run from the 17th of February until the 13th of March, launching a year of centenary celebrations for Visual Arts Scotland members. 

Tavienne Bridgwater, VAS Co-President, said:

“VAS has seen a lot of growth and change over the past 100 years. The organisation began as The Scottish Society of Women Artists in 1924 with the aim to empower women after their contribution to the war effort. VAS provided women with the opportunity to exhibit and create applied arts, an opportunity other arts organisations in Scotland did not encourage until later in the century. 

In the early 90s, the organisation’s name changed to Scottish Artists and Artist Craftsmen to embrace the high-quality experimental crafts taking place. Today, the organisation is known as Visual Arts Scotland and boasts a membership of over 1,000 artists across Scotland and beyond, its sole purpose to promote and provide opportunities for artists with an association to Scotland. 

As we enter our 100th year, we want to reflect on our deep history, but also provide as many opportunities for our current membership as possible. 2024 will be packed full of exciting opportunities with a TATHA Gallery exhibition in Fife, a partnership exhibition with Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC) in Aberlady, participation at the Borders Art Fair, and an exhibition and maker’s market at Dalkeith Palace. We will also be facilitating a number of artist residency opportunities throughout Scotland and the UK and our online platforms will continue to provide an important space for networking and the sharing of ideas, artwork, and dialogue.”  


Amanda Airey, VAS Co-President, commented:

“We’re really excited to be returning to the RSA for our Centenary Show. Visual Arts Scotland’s relationship with this iconic building began in 1945, so there’s no better place to celebrate VAS’s milestone. We received over 1,500 applications for our Centenary Show from both members and non-members, indicating the enthusiasm for Visual Arts Scotland’s history as well as an appetite for in-person exhibitions. This year, we also hope to create a centenary year book that will contextualise VAS, capture our evolution as an organisation and reveal how we have stayed true to our core aims and passions. VAS members will be integral to influencing its design and purpose. 

Despite years of growth, our organisation’s core values have remained the same. Everything we do is influenced by inclusivity and the idea that artists should and can help one another. VAS is a volunteer-led charity, with the core council consisting of artists themselves, helping promote and provide opportunities for our members. I hope we continue to enable artists to support artists for another 100 years. 


Christina McKelvie, Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development, said:

The Scottish Government would like to congratulate Visual Arts Scotland on achieving a century of creativity and for playing such a pioneering role in the development of women earning recognition in creative arts. Founded as the Scottish Society of Women Artists in 1924, VAS led the way by providing women with a much-needed platform to showcase their artistic skills in Scotland. Visual Arts Scotland continues to give an important voice to the artists, practitioners, and craftsmen, who are crucial in shaping Scotland’s world-leading artistic output. We look forward to celebrating the creativity produced during VAS’s Centenary Show in 2024.


Colin R Greenslade, RSA Director writes:

“The Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture (RSA) extends a hearty congratulations to the team and membership of Visual Art Scotland (VAS) on the celebration of the Society’s centenary. VAS, under the auspices of the ‘Scottish Society of Women Artists’ and ‘Scottish Artists and Artist Craftsmen’, have exhibited alongside the RSA in the Royal Scottish Academy building across much of these past 100 years and we share many artist members both past and present. It is wonderful to congratulate VAS on this milestone achievement and wish them the very best as they enter their second century of representing artists in this way.”

The VAS Centenary Show will also have an exhibit of small works (30cm x 30cm) by society members, allowing every member of VAS to have their work included in the exhibition. These small works provide a varied selection of art for sale at affordable prices.

Key Exhibition Dates:

*Preview Night: 16th February 2024, 6pm - 8pm. 

- Open Date: 17th of February 2024

- Closing Date 13th March 2024

- Opening times: Mon to Sun 10 – 5pm