Duff House hosts RGU’s art and heritage collection

Duff House in Banff is hosting a one-off exhibition featuring an extensive assortment of works from Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) art and heritage collection.

‘It all started with a still life’ takes visitors back in time to explore the history and heritage of Gray’s School of Art, one of the oldest established fine arts institutions in Scotland and now part of Robert Gordon University.

Running until the 4th June, the exhibition will display a selection of works drawn from the University’s Art and Heritage Collections, which houses approximately 1,600 artworks along with other material relating to the history of the Art School, such as photographs, posters and oral history recordings.

The exhibition highlights many works by established artists, some of which were created whilst they were students and have, until now, never been exhibited outside the School. 

Featured artists include Ian Fleming, Alexander Fraser Joyce Cairns, Colin Thoms, Sylvia Wishart, Frances Walker, Lennox Dunbar and Will MacLean. 

Ceramics, fashion design, sculpture and a slide show featuring former students captured through the decades stand alongside annually collected award winning examples of contemporary student work. 

One of the featured artists, Ian Robertson, hadn’t seen his work since graduating in 1980.

“‘Still Life With East Wind’ was completed early in 1979 during my Diploma year at Gray’s. I had not seen it physically since the end of my Post-Diploma year in 1980,” he said.

“Being able to see it again, in the context of the show at Duff House, with work from my former classmates and tutors, and more recent graduates seemed very apt as well as rather satisfying.  

“I did feel that it was me that was returning to the painting rather than the other way about and looking at it was something akin to opening a time capsule. It took me right back to my corner in the studio at Gray’s with all my collected objects, scribbled notes, postcard reproductions, the well-thumbed book of Japanese kites that I still have.

“I could vividly remember the ideas that I was exploring, the conversation and advice of my tutors and the camaraderie of my classmates – and the smell of turpentine.”

George Cheyne, collections assistant for the RGU art and heritage collection, added: “Each year we write a further page in the history of Gray’s School of Art and most importantly, those who have and do study there.  We owe this to John Gray. 

“The exhibition permits us to reflect upon John Gray who was responsible for supporting the development of a School of Art in Aberdeen in the 1880s.

“Hailing from fine Aberdeenshire farming country, John Gray’s benevolence has through the generations, sown a multitude of creative seeds via the School of Art that holds his name.”

The exhibition is open Monday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm, until June 4.


Release by Kate Yuill
Communications Officer | Business, Management and Law
Press and Media Enquiries