Empire strikes back in Montrose with new art exhibition

Gayle Nelson (right), president of the Society of Scottish Artists, showing 'Plantation' by Diane McLean to Kate Carmichael, Barbra Black and Stephanie Black.
Gayle Nelson (right), president of the Society of Scottish Artists, showing 'Plantation' by Diane McLean to Kate Carmichael, Barbra Black and Stephanie Black.

The legacy of the British Empire has been brought to the fore in Montrose due to a new art exhibition at the Wall Projects II.

The Scottish Society of Artists’ exhibition opened on Saturday, July 25, and was a tremendous scoop for Montrose.

Artist Kate Clayton pictured with some of her work at the exhibition.

Artist Kate Clayton pictured with some of her work at the exhibition.

The society has picked work by 20 artists for its members’ showcase in Montrose at the Old Rope Works on Bents Road.

Kim Canale, the gallery curator, said: “I’m delighted the national body has recognised this building’s potential as an art space suitable for major exhibitions.”

The society artists filled the previously redundant rope making area of the Old Rope works, which extends for an amazingly long way into the dark recesses of the building, with thought provoking installations.

Roots and ivy have forced their way down into the space, while the strong smell of rotting timber underfoot shows nature is reclaiming the space, but with access via a clever jetty-style plank walkway by Alan Bond all the way down the centre of the space, the artists have inhabited the walls and hung provocative art from the ceilings.

Pictured by Juliana Capes' Meltwater installation are, from left: Kim Canale, Juliana Capes and Scottish Society of Artists curators Gayle Nelson and Alan Bond.

Pictured by Juliana Capes' Meltwater installation are, from left: Kim Canale, Juliana Capes and Scottish Society of Artists curators Gayle Nelson and Alan Bond.

Its an incredible space, eerie and evocative of past times as a rope twining facility which at one time stretched for a furlong or 220 metres.

The exhibition entitled ‘Empire’ covers the trades Britain conducted in previous centuries from whaling, plant collecting and tea to rope, oil and slavery, the main trades are depicted in very different ways.

There are soundscapes, conceptual art and monoprints, video installations, sculptures and paintings.

The whole exhibition shows the practical workings of the Empire without giving us too many answers to the question of its legacy.

The art allows us space to think about the implications of the trades, and lets us ponder Great Britain’s place in history.

Montrose had a big part to play in the slave trade, and many of the big houses and estates in this area will have risen from the previously profitable trade.

A special event, ‘Considered Cargo’ where writer James Robertson and artist Carolyn Scott featured in the exhibition will perform live, is on Thursday, August 13.

The ‘Empire’ exhibition runs until August 29.