Two classical porticos, almost facing each other in Trafalgar Square in London, behind which are three exhibitions of Scottish art, running at the same time as the annual celebration of the birth of the Scottish poet Robert Burns.
In the National Gallery, Edwin Landseer’s majestic Monarch of the Glen has travelled down from the National Gallery of Scotland as the centrepiece of an exhibition of Landseer’s drawings and paintings, along with other interpretations of his work.
We are used to seeing the imposing image of this stag representing Scottish identity on tins of shortbread and the labels of whisky bottles, which leads us to Scottish artist Rachel Maclean’s satirical video ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’ which, along with the compelling works in the adjacent room, explores Scotland’s relationship with England linked to the 2014 Independence Vote in Scotland. and perhaps anticipates the next one which seems likely to be an unintended consequence of Brexit. In some ways, a strange exhibition for the National Gallery – more the sort of thing you might find in the Tate.
Across the road in Canada House, is an exhibition organised in partnership with the Royal Scottish Academy – Scottish artist Barbara Rae’s more sensitive and traditional work recording her trips to the Nothwest Passage displayed alongside Inuit sculpture from the Belle Shenkman Collection, a fascinating counterpoint.