Photo of Calum Colvin

Colvin, Calum


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Personal profile


Born in Glasgow in 1961, Calum Colvin has exhibited his work nationally and internationally for over thirty years since graduating from the Royal College of Art, London in 1985. He was a winner of one of the first Scottish Arts Council Creative Scotland Awards from which he created the acclaimed exhibition for the SNPG ‘Ossian, Fragments of Ancient Poetry’ in 2001. He was awarded an OBE the same year and is Professor of Fine Art Photography at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee.

Colvin’s constructed photographic artworks begin as large-scale studio 'stage-sets', tableaux of everyday objects, furniture and bric-a-brac carefully posed and theatrically lit. Viewed from the fixed-point perspective of a large-format camera, painted trompe-l'oeil elements are introduced, integrating object and subject in a complex mise en scene. These are finally photographed on film, digitized and printed onto paper or canvas. These visual illusions/allegories are intended to draw the viewer into a creative dialogue as the images are interpreted, touching on contemporary concerns relating to society, the environment and aspects of national identity.

His works have been widely exhibited in venues as diverse as Orkney, Los Angeles and Ecuador, and are represented in numerous collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Museum of Fine Art, Houston; The Tate Gallery, London and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.


1979-1983: Diploma in Sculpture, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee.

1983-1985: MA in Photography, Royal College of Art, London.

1985-1993: Lived and worked as artist in London.

1993-2001: Lecturer in Fine Art, University of Dundee.

1995-1996: Senior Research Fellow in Digital Imaging, University of Northumbria.

2001- present: Professor of Fine Art Photography, University of Dundee.

2013 – present: Head of Contemporary Art Practice, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art + Design, University of Dundee. 

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1987-1990: ‘Calum Colvin’ Kathleen Ewing Gallery, Washington DC; Sander Gallery, New York; Friedman-Guinness Gallery, Heidelberg; Torch Gallery, Amsterdam; Richard Pomoroy Gallery, London; Seagate Gallery, Dundee; Salama Caro Gallery, London; Galeria 57, Madrid;Glenn/Dash Gallery, Los Angeles; California State University, Long Beach, California; Friedman-Guinness Gallery, Frankfurt; Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney; Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston; Portfolio Gallery, Edinburgh.

1991:’The Two Ways of Life’ Art Institute of Chicago; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Nickle Arts Museum, Calgary; Winnipeg Art Gallery; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe .

1993-2000: ’The Seven Deadly  Sins and the Four Last Things’ Portfolio Gallery, Edinburgh; Photographers Gallery, London; Photosynkyria, Thessalonki, Greece;Norwich Arts Centre; BM Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul; Banco Central Art Gallery, Quenca, Ecuador; British Council, Quito, Ecuador; Royal Photographic Society, Bath; Fotomuseum, Stadtmuseum, Munich; Seagate Gallery, Dundee; Photography Centre of Athens; Forum Gallery, Zagreb, Croatia; Varazdin Town Museum, Croatia; BM Contemporary Art Centre, Istanbul; Izfas Art Gallery, Ismir; State Fine Arts Gallery, Ankara; Encontros da Imagem, Braga, Portugal; Kawasaki City Museum, Japan; The Meffan Institute, Angus.

1996- 2000 ‘Pseudologica Fantastica’ Impressions Gallery, York; Focal Point Gallery, Southend -on –Sea; Portfolio Gallery, Edinburgh; Theatr Clwyd, Mold, Wales; Centre Cultural Caixa de Terassa, Barcelona; University of Salamanca; Centro de Arte Contemporaneo, Seville; Viewpoint Gallery, Salford, Manchester; Leeds Metropolitan University Gallery; Piece Hall Gallery, Halifax.

1998-2003:‘Sacred and Profane’ Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; National Machado de Castro Museum, Coimbra, Portugal; Martha Schneider Gallery, Chicago; Peacock Printmakers, Aberdeen; Crawford Art Centre, St Andrews.

2002-2008: ‘Ossian, Fragments of Ancient Poetry’ Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh; Iona Gallery, Kingussie; Swanson Gallery, Thurso; An Tuireann, Skye; Timespan, Helmsdale; St Fergus Gallery, Wick; Inverness Museum and Art Gallery; Birnam Institute, Dunkeld; Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries; Festival de Musique de Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Beaulieu, France; UNESCO, Paris; Inverness County Centre for the Arts, Nova Scotia; University of Guelph, Canada.

2009: ‘Natural Magic’ Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh; Inverness Museum and Art Gallery; Swanson Gallery Thurso; St Fergus Gallery, Wick.

2014: ‘The Magic Box’ Edinburgh Printmakers 1/8/14-6/9/14.

2013/15: ‘Burnsiana’ Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Ayr; Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh: Dick Institute, Kilmarnock.

2016/17: ‘Jacobites by Name’ Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh; Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh.

2017: ‘Museography’ McManus Galleries, Dundee.


Victoria and Albert Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York; Scottish National Portrait Gallery; The British Council; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art;

Royal Photographic Society; Arnolfini Collection Trust; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston;

Ferens Museum, Hull; Art Institute of Chicago; Tate Gallery; Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow; Aberdeen Art Gallery; City Art Centre, Edinburgh; Deutsche Bank; The Scottish Parliament.

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Arts, Royal College of Art

Award Date: 1 Jan 1985

1 Sep 19791 Jun 1983

Award Date: 1 Jun 1983

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Research Output

Brexit Tears: Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh

Colvin, C. & Crawford, R., 2020

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

  • Brexit Tears

    Colvin, C. & Crawford, R., 2020, Newtyle, Angus, UK: Kettilonia. 56 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

  • Calum Colvin: Picturing Scottish Identity

    Colvin, C. & Foster, A., 29 Feb 2020, PhotoWorld.

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


    Colvin, C., 27 Mar 2019, Art and Science in Word and Image: Exploration and Discovery. Williams, K., Aymes, S., Baetens, J. & Murray, C. (eds.). Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers, p. 177-192 14 p. (Word and Image Interactions; vol. 9).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

  • Confluence: Tradition in Contemporary Art

    Modeen, M. (ed.), Spence, P., Irvine, Z., Rowland, C., Dalziel, M., Scullion, L., Milligan, A., Watson, A., Colvin, C., Faithfull, D., Summerton, E., Wilson, S., Elston, G., Fagen, G., Braham, P., Dunlop, G., Harrison, P., Maclennan, A. & Sheng, X., 1 Oct 2019

    Research output: Non-textual formExhibition catalogue

  • Prizes

    Jacobites by Name

    Colvin, Calum (Recipient), 1 Sep 2014

    Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

  • Activities

    • 11 Festival/Exhibition
    • 1 Participation in conference
    • 1 Public engagement and outreach - media article or participation
    • 1 Invited talk

    Jacobites by Name

    Calum Colvin (Speaker)

    16 Aug 2016

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


    Calum Colvin (Keynote speaker)

    14 Aug 2014

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesKeynote

    The Magic Box

    Calum Colvin (Contributor)

    1 Aug 20146 Sep 2014

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesFestival/Exhibition


    Calum Colvin (Participant)

    7 Jun 201315 Sep 2013

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesFestival/Exhibition

    Natural Magic

    Calum Colvin (Host)

    20 Feb 201027 Mar 2010

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesFestival/Exhibition


    Deploying collaborative artistic co-creative methods to strategically promote eco-social regeneration for small island communities

    Author: Donkers, L., 2020

    Supervisor: Modeen, M. (Supervisor), Biggs, I. (External person) (Supervisor) & Colvin, C. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy