The best art exhibitions to see in Scotland during 2015

By Kate McNab | 26 September 2015 | Updated: 03 November 2015

Get your diary out - it's Culture24's constantly updated guide to the best exhibitions to see in Scotland in 2015

photograph of intricate silver leaf-patterned jewellery
© National Museums Scotland
Visitors to the capital this autumn are in for a treat with a myriad of exciting exhibitions gracing the city’s galleries.

Fans of finer things will enjoy at the National Museum of Scotland (until January 4) which sees 66 modern silversmiths showcase 150 of their masterpieces, affirming Britain’s place as a world leader in contemporary silver.

(until February 28)  comes to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery for the sixth time with an outstanding array of the best in contemporary portrait painting. The exhibition showcases the winners, along with other commendable entrants, in a thought-provoking assortment of work by diverse artists from across the globe.

While you’re there, why not check out Scots photographic collective Document Scotland’s (until April 24) which, one year on from the Scottish referendum, presents a collection of photographs of and about the nation and its people. Rather than take any political stance, the exhibition documents the intricacy of the argument, exploring the complex views that surround it.

etching and drypoint image of a Scottish mountain with pond in foreground
DY CAMERON (1865-1945), Ben Ledi (1911). Etching and drypoint on paper© Scottish National Gallery
Following the theme of great Scots, at the Scottish National Gallery (October 24 – February 21) marks the 150th anniversary of the death of one of Scotland’s most celebrated printmakers by bringing together a selection of Cameron’s extensive and most impressive, works.

Another innovative and acclaimed Scottish artist gets a mention at the National Gallery this season; (until January 17) is the first show in more than 35 years to focus on the work of the accomplished watercolourist best known for his Orientalism and influence on the Glasgow Boys.

Over at City Art Centre, two big exhibitions take us through to the end of the year. The first of these, (until 8 May), charts Scotland's complex and turbulent relationship with the sea. Through the work of artists such as William McTaggart and Joan Eardley, the exhibition explores how painters capture the sea both with love for its sublime beauty, and respect for its unpredictability.

(October 24 – February 14) also comes to the gallery after a successful run at the Towner Gallery in the South East. The exhibition showcases more than 100 works from the abstract Scottish painter and member of the avant-garde movement CoBrA in the late 1940s, who has since slipped into obscurity.

To accompany the exhibition,  (October 24 – February 7) presents artworks from the centre's collection, chosen to complement the show.

painting of young girl sat on a window seat with sunlight coming through a small window
Dorothy JOHNSTONE (1892-1980) September Sunlight, 1916 Oil on canvas, 150 x 106© The University of Edinburgh Art Collection: Presented by the University of Aberdeen 1983
To continue your journey into the intriguing world of Modern Art, why not visit (November 14 – February 2) at the National Gallery of Modern Art, an exhibition bringing to light lesser-known female artists and exploring the role of Scottish women in the Modern Art period.

For something a bit more familiar, renowned American pop artist 's Benday-dotted paintings are also on show in the gallery (until January 10). The ARTIST ROOMS exhibition presents a newly selected group of the emblematic artist's comic-inspired pieces.

image of triangular shape in three colours projected onto screen
Olafur Eliasson, Ephemeral Afterimage Star (2008)© Courtesy Olafur Eliasson / Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
As the dark winter days begin to draw in, the Fruitmarket Gallery offers a little brightness in (November 14 – February 21) which sees contemporary artists exhibited with artists from the iconic post-minimalism California Light and Space movement of the 60s and 70s who have inspired some perception-skewing, mind-bending installations.


photograph of installation in gallery showing unoccupied cantilever chairs with fur coats hung over their backs
Infrastruktur (2015). Installation view© Herald St, London
An exciting milestone for Glasgow and Scotland as the (until January 17) comes north of the border for the first time. Tramway is the lucky host for the infamous award which, in past years, has been bestowed upon the likes of Gillian Wearing, Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor. The winner of the prestigious and often controversial prize will be announced on December 7, 2015.

The Lighthouse, Scotland's Centre for Art and Design calls on the work of Glasgow Style artists and designers and sees art and nature united in a foray into the wonderful world of Art Nouveau. (until 24 December) explores how the likes of Charles Rennie Mackintosh were inspired by the natural world and used organic forms in their ornate designs.

Over at the Glasgow School of Art, a transformation is taking place. (until 12 December) is Ndiritu’s first solo show in the UK since 2007, and the debut of her wider photographic and painting works. The show is also set to transform the GSA, from a classical art school to a contemporary New Age icon.

The Centre for Contemporary Art presents work from a duo of artists, British performance artist Giles Bailey and American installation artist Jeremiah Day. (13 November - 10 January) sees the two artists in conversation, both using language as a central theme in their work.

Elsewhere in Scotland

Over in Fife, another show to dive into the artist's relationship with the sea is the Kirkcaldy Galleries' (24 November – 14 February), which brings together work from painters such as William McTaggart, S J Peploe and John Duncan.

There’s so much more to see - browse Culture24’s full Scottish listings here.
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