Digging Stirling – by Dr Murray Cook, Stirling Council Archaeologist
Dunblane creative meet-ups at Dunblane library

Art at the University of Stirling

The tradition of collecting art at the University of Stirling goes back to its founding in 1967. The aim at that time was to surround the new students with art and culture, as part of their day-to-day educational experience, regardless of what they were studying. This aim continues into the present, with art accessible to all who study, work or visit here. There are now well over 600 items in the Collection and much of the art is displayed in the Pathfoot Building – itself a listed building and a work of art in its own right, with its light airy courtyards and multi-level concourse – and around the beautiful scenic campus.

Detail of the ‘Wall Construction’ also known as ‘Mural’ by Mary Martin, 1969

In the early days, site-specific works were commissioned and an excellent example of this is the wall mounted steel sculptural panel by Mary Martin which was originally commissioned for the Pathfoot Dining Room and now hangs in the Crush Hall.‌ In the late sixties and early seventies, purchases were made chiefly from galleries and fine works collected in that period include  paintings by Patrick Heron, Sir Robin Philipson, Michael Tyzack and Jon Schueler and sculptures by Barbara Hepworth, Eduardo Paolozzi and Justin Knowles. A major print collection was also developed, including work by Norman Ackroyd, Robyn Denny, Terry Frost, John Hoyland, Bridget Riley, Willie Rodger, Elizabeth Frink, Patrick Caulfield, Pierre Celice, Ian Hamilton Finlay, David Imms, John Brunsdon and Graham Sutherland. The Art Collection has in addition received two large and valuable gifts during its history. The first was of fourteen works by the Scottish Colourist painter J.D. Fergusson. This was presented to Stirling by the artist’s lifelong partner Margaret Morris in 1968. The second was a gift of fifteen paintings and three sculptures given to the University in 1997 as part of the Scottish Arts Council Bequest. The Collection also holds several works created by artists associated with the Cornish town of St Ives. More recently the policy has been to focus exclusively on Scottish contemporary art and works now held include those by Calum Colvin, Brigid Collins, Adrian Wiszniewski, Sandy Moffat, Philip Braham, Alan Davie, Wilhelmina Barns Graham, Lotte Glob, Alan Davie, Lys Hansen, Helen Denerley and Kate Downie.

As well as permanent displays, the Collection hosts temporary exhibitions in Pathfoot and the University’s Library. In striving towards its aim to ‘make knowledge visible’, every year, the Art Collection’s exhibitions, events and workshops are directly inspired by the research of the University. This year the focus is on refugees and migration, under the umbrella title ‘Experiences of Exile’ and as well as a variety of art on display, there have also been a series of events such as talks and films, and art workshops for locally-settled refugees from Syria. As a culmination of this year’s theme, on June 22ndwe will be hosting an event as part of Refugee Festival Scotland, open to everyone, which will include a programme of music, readings, a film showing, and tours of the exhibitions.

The Pathfoot Building with Iain McColl’s sculpture ‘Pursuit of Knowledge (Cottrell Memorial Sculpture)’ in the foreground.

For more information on the work of the Art Collection visit our website:https://www.stir.ac.uk/about/faculties-and-services/art-collection/