This large scale historical exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy included a commissioned installation and residency by Calum Colvin. Ages of Wonder presents work from the NGS and RSA National Collections. The exhibition included over 450 works by over 270 artists and architects, from the masterpiece 'The Adoration of the Magi' painted by Jacopo Bassano of 1540, to recent Diploma Works by Callum Innes RSA and Alison Watt RSA. Integral to the exhibition was commissioned work for and during the exhibition by Calum Colvin RSA, Kenny Hunter RSA and Richard Murphy RSA.
This project, recreating the artist's studio within an art gallery in order to allow a public viewing of the process of creation of an artwork over a period of time, allowed a unique access to the various stages in the slow evolution of one of Colvin's staged/painted and constructed pieces - from initial research, set-up and arrangement of objects to the process of painting and final photograph. A large format view camera was installed in the Gallery and the public were able to engage in dialogue with the artist as the piece evolved from an arrangement of objects in a three dimensional set to a large scale painted portrait. The subject was Hugh MacDiarmid- a major figure of 20th Century Scottish and European literature and a controversial political activist, this choice of subject stimulated much debate focussing artistic and visual dialogue alongside political and cultural discussion. Visitors contributed personal letters and objects associated with the poet, which became part of the fabric of the work. Images from the University of Dundee's Peto Collection were used as source material alongside photographic images made by the artist at Brownsbank Cottage, MacDiarmid's former home in Biggar. Public engagement was core to this project, with numerous spontaneous talks as well as pre-arranged lectures. Discussions around visual science, cultural and political engagement, art and poetry and potency of material culture were held. A final public lecture/discussion on the finished artwork/installation was held on Jan 1st 2018 alongside renowned Scottish author James Robertson.