Since 1979, eight British Art Show (BAS) exhibitions have toured UK museums and galleries, cumulatively, sharing the work of 492 practising artists with audiences.
Now in its ninth cycle, the show may be visiting Aberdeen for the first time, but our connection with BAS artists is certainly nothing new!
For over four decades we have been collecting their work: to date, artworks by an incredible 72 BAS artists spanning all eight earlier shows can be seen and enjoyed in the city’s collection.
To celebrate this, we are displaying selected works from successive generations of BAS artists in the Art Gallery. Highlights include Dame Elizabeth Blackadder’s Grey Table with Easter Eggs, 1966. Although close to pure abstraction, the table and surrounding objects are still recognisable. Grey Table was purchased by Aberdeen Art Gallery in 1967, with income from the Macdonald Bequest, some 12 years before she was selected to feature in the first British Art Show in 1979.
Aberdeen’s collection contains 37 works associated with Falkirk-born Blackadder – the first woman to be elected to both the Royal Scottish Academy and Royal Academy. Representing BAS 4, Jordan Baseman’s I Love You Still, 1994, better known to regular visitors as ‘Hairy Stick’, makes a welcome return to the Gallery. Also, not to be missed is BAS 6 artist Toby Paterson’s Showrooms, a 3D idealised imagining of modern architecture that seems to float against the gallery wall.
This chronological journey highlights Aberdeen Art Gallery’s commitment to collecting the best of British contemporary art. From work by BAS 1 & 2 artist John Bellany, Cornelia Parker, BAS 3, David Hockney, BAS 5, and Charles Avery, BAS 7, culminating in the display of a series of four eye-catching digital prints by BAS 8’s Rachel Maclean, these artworks chart the evolution of contemporary British art over the last 42 years.
Visit Gallery 2 in Aberdeen Art Gallery to see a selection of artworks by previous BAS artists in our collection.