The work of the late Robert Callender will be on display at the City Art Centre from 12 May to 8 July 2018 in the first large-scale exhibition following his death in 2011.

It addresses environmental concerns, ways and means of recycling; issues that underline the enduring and absolute relevance of the artist’s ideas, particularly his later work which took a distinctly ecological turn with his significant installation Plastic Beach.

Callender was interested in craft and the environment and this exhibition is a complete marriage of both of those skills. On the first floor ‘Plastic Beach’ is made up of 500 objects made of paper, card and mixed media while on the second floor ‘Coastal Collection’ comprises a range of shoes,cups, stoppers and other items lost from the land or boats into the sea.

The artist’s widow, Elizabeth Ogilvie is a visual artist too who is working still on environmental related matters. Over the last eight years she has been researching in Northern Greenland with Inuit collaborators, friends and looking at ice melt. She is also looking at sea level rise and all the issues of climate change.

Agreeing that the problems of plastic in our oceans has escalated since her husband’s death, Ogilvie explained the works in his thought-provoking exhibition.

She explained the inspiration behind Plastic Beach : “Over the years all his research became concentrated on the shoreline and the changes over the years. So in a way his work is very time-based  and in particular Coastal Collection which was made up of 500 pieces in the late 1990s was made over five years. All the pieces came from the shore and were thrown away by people, a mixture of timber and an assortment of detritus. It was very prescient his work looking forward and obviously very topical now with all the issues of plastic.

”He was very much an environmental thinker and contemporary thinker, although his work was created over so many decades. He was using a range of recycled materials, using the concept of recycling and then looking at what was happening over the years to the shore.”

Robert Callender – Plastic Beach from The Edinburgh Reporter On Vimeo on Vimeo.

Jane Warrilow  who is a freelance curator explained for  us the residency programme which was begun after artist Robert Callender’s death.  As part of the current exhibition at The City Art Centre there is work on display by twelve young artists who have taken part in the Robert Callender Residency for young artists. She explained : “Robert was a teacher at Edinburgh College of Art for over 30 years. One of the things he was very interested in was supporting young artists , particularly when they are just graduating and just going out into the wider world. When Robert died in 2011 the organisation Lateral Lab (which is partly about Robert’s legacy) started to run this residency to support these artists.

“Primarily it is an opportunity for the artist to work in Robert’s studio at Sea Loft which is the studio that Robert and Elizabeth set up in Fife. It is an amazing space right on the water’s edge in Fife. The artists can go and work there for a month in the summer each year.

“The artists are all Edinburgh-based but there is also an international aspect to it too. Robert did a whole series of projects in Japan and he had a particular affinity with that country. We’re very fortunate to work with partners in Japan and a couple of galleries there. A Japanese based artist has latterly come over to Scotland and so the two artists work side by side. The Scottish artist is also then invited to travel to Japan.

“In 2017 we made a connection with An artist initiative in The Hague in the Netherlands  called Satellite Group so what you will also see here is work by young Dutch artists. So this all builds to an international network for the young people

“All of the artists whose work you can see here are all involved in other projects and residencies so there are lots of connections. The film created by one of our most recent young artists, Yulia Kovanova, Will be shown here too. that was shortlisted for a Scottish BAFTA short film award last year. Yulia will be working in Sea Loft later this year.”
Pictured Maeve Toal curator exhibitions
Robert Callender – Plastic Beach
City Art Centre, Market Street, Edinburgh

Saturday 12 May to Sunday 8 July 2018,

City Art Centre, 2 Market Street, Edinburgh EH1 1DE



Also at the City Art Centre ‘The Human Comedy’ series by James Pryde(1866-1941) depicts a facet of the human condition alongside a trademark imposing large four-poster bed. From that series, this exhibition at the City Art Centre features ‘The Red Bed’ (1916) from the City of Edinburgh collection, alongside work from Lothian Health Services Archive and the Alt-w Fund.


James Ferrier Pryde The Red Bed from City of Edinburgh collection.

The legacy of Scottish neurosurgeon Prof Norman Dott (1897-1973) guides the exhibition. Originally an engineer, he retrained in medicine following a long spell in hospital recovering from a motorcycle accident. He constantly innovated with respect to his designs for neuroscience including the design and creation of the spherical Dott operating theatre at Edinburgh’s Western General.

In addition to works from the partners’ collections, a major focus of the exhibition is the current work of the NHS Lothian’s Art & Therapeutic Design programme and winners of the Alt-w Production Award. Exploring the activity and research interests of the Department of Clinical Neuroscience (DCN) in Edinburgh,Susana Cámara Leret, Tomoko Hayashi, Stacey Hunter, Gavin Inglis, Jack King-Spooner, Alex Menzies, Aidan Moesby, Florence To and Sven Werner present their work across design, music, graphic novels, film including interactive elements and 3D design.

The exhibition forms part of NHS Lothian’s Beyond Walls programme of art and therapeutic design, which is curated by Ginkgo Projects and funded by the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation. The Alt-w LAB at the City Art Centre has hosted a series of fellowships and residencies as part of this programme.

The City Art Centre is owned and managed by City of Edinburgh Council. From 1 June it extends its opening hours to seven days a week 10am to 5pm. Entry to the exhibition is free.

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener, said: “Edinburgh is home to one of the largest neuroscience networks in Europe so it’s fascinating to see this element of the city and of science influence local artists and their craft. Participating in art and culture is known to assist mental health, but good design can also have therapeutic benefits. This exhibition shines a light on the work of Norman Dott, who as a case in point, used his creative understanding to develop clinical design at the Western General. The worlds of art and science aren’t so separate after all, and this exhibition proves it. I am delighted the City Art Centre has been able to support the display, and in so doing, the profile of these artists and their work.”


Robin Grant, Consultant Neurologist, NHS Lothian, said: “This exhibition mines the rich history and strong identity of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, reflecting patient experience and creatively interpreting some of the high calibre research taking place here at NHS Lothian”.

Susan Grant, Arts Manager, Edinburgh and Lothian Health Foundation, said : “Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation is delighted to have initiated and funded these multi-arts fellowships, presented here in the context of the City Art Centre. The artists have developed genuine collaborative relationships with staff and patients in Clinical Neurosciences as part of a diverse programme of Arts in Health and Wellbeing across the service.”

Pryde, James Ferrier; The Red Bed; City of Edinburgh Council;

NHS Lothian’s Art & Therapeutic Design programme and winners of the Alt-w Production Award artist contributions:

Susana Cámara Leret

DCN Creative Research Artist Fellowship – Design

Throughout her fellowship, Susana Cámara Leret has been researching health ecologies and the process of olfaction, from the remarkable ability of Joy Milne, who can diagnose Parkinson’s Disease by smell alone, to exploring how fragrance on a molecular level can trigger memory.

Working with the radiology department at DCN, she has created ‘The Smell of Onyx: Aspirations’, a series of hand blown glass vessels containing the breath of patients who have undergone embolization treatment for Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs) of the brain and spinal cord.

Alex Menzies & Florence To

DCN Creative Research Artist Fellowship – Music

Musician and composer Alex Menzies regularly collaborates with art director and installation artist Florence To. They are collaborating on a special performative installation in the unique spherical Dott Theatres after the DCN has moved from the Western General to Little France.

Alex has created a pervasive twelve channel audio work for the exhibition that explores his research into music therapy. Florence presents OCM_01, an animation for Sedition, that visualises a tangible sense of gravity and the psychological effects of experiencing a full dome environment.

Gavin Inglis

DCN Creative Research Artist Fellowship – Language & Cognition

Gavin Inglis is a writer of games and fiction. He created the interactive story ‘Hana Feels’ for Cycle 09 of the Alt-w Fund. He began his fellowship by exploring neurofiction, autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), artificial intelligence and generative fiction using neural nets.

The exhibition will include work in progress on a graphic novel entitled ‘Not There’ that explores functional neurological disorders. He has collaborated with Consultant Neurologist Dr Jon Stone and illustrator Fin Cramb to create this work, to be published in both print and digital formats.

Jack King-Spooner

DCN Mentoring Residency – I am in a hare’s likeness now

Artist Jack King-Spooner creates strange and wonderful things. During his residency he looked at ideas concerning hope and false hope within the framework of personal wellbeing, focused on Victorian spiritualism and Scottish witchcraft from the early 20th century.

Quackery through the ages, inadvertent acts of mindfulness and placebo effects were also explored. A facet of this research examined how engaging in an activity, although fraudulent or unproven, could prove worthwhile. He presents an ‘amusement’ arcade machine and book.

Sven Werner

DCN Mentoring Residency – Observer Cinema

During his residency filmmaker Sven Werner created an installation and accompanying audio work. It tells the story of a man who, to his own surprise, finds he has a peculiar gift: he is able to recognise and inhabit the blind angles of people’s attention so that he becomes to all eyes invisible.

He learns to move past hundreds of people every day while staying entirely unnoticed. He slowly becomes accustomed to inhabiting these hidden spaces and empty folds of daily life, until he decides to abandon his mundane existence to live only under the radar of the public’s attention.

Stacey Hunter

DCN Mentoring Residency – Design and personal and social identity

Stacey Hunter is a producer, curator and writer. In exploring how healthcare environments have implications for patients in terms of their identity and sense of self, she has been thinking about how the depersonalising effect of clinical environments might be positively counteracted.

As a design specialist, Stacey started with ideas of the ‘dressing table’ and ‘vanity unit’. The residency then considered the accoutrements we surround ourselves with to communicate or sustain our ‘best self’, using international best practice as a resource and reference point.

Aidan Moesby

Cycle 09 Alt-w Production Award – Sagacity

The Small Society Lab at Dundee Contemporary Arts worked with artist Aidan Moesby to construct a reflexive barometer of wellbeing, initially for Dundee, that provides a space – real, imagined or virtual – to reflect on ‘how things are’ and how can they be maintained or improved.

‘The Periodic Table of Emotions’ has now created multiple visible manifestations of the attitude and mood of many different people and places including hospitals, nurturing many ongoing personal connections. Use the hashtag #redbedfeels to engage with the work in the exhibition.

Tomoko Hayashi

Cycle 06 Alt-w Production Award – Mutsugoto

Mutsugoto is a prototype body-drawing communication device intended for people who find themselves in long distance relationships. It allows partners to communicate through the language of touch as expressed in light on the canvas of the human body.

A custom projection system allows the two users to draw on each other’s bodies whilst they lie in bed. Drawings are transmitted live between their two locations, enabling a different kind of communication that leverages the emotional quality of physical gesture. 

Venue Details:

Address:                                City Art Centre, 2 Market Street, Edinburgh EH1 1DE

Telephone:                           0131 529 3993


Twitter:                 @EdinCulture




Opening hours:    May: Wednesday – Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 12noon – 5pm

June & July: Monday – Sunday 10am – 5pm