The McManus Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum
Purchased by the Contemporary Art Society for The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museums. Established in the 1880s, Dundee Art Galleries and Museums’ fine art collection is diverse and wide ranging. Traditionally the museum collected contemporary art, often directly from the artist or from the annual fine art exhibitions held in the museum. The McManus now has a collecting comprising oil paintings, watercolours, drawings, prints, sculpture, new media and a is renowned the first collection of fine art photography in Scotland. The Gothic Revival building housing the city’s collection has recently been refurbished and is currently showing recent acquisitions including work by Catherine Yass, Graham Fagan, John Stezaker and Ruth Ewan.
Ruth Ewan was born in Aberdeen, trained at Edinburgh College of Art and is now based in London. Her practice explores the histories of protest, consequences that particular socio-polictical issues or events had on local groups.
Nae Sums 1911, 2011 from the artist’s first major solo show in the UK, Brank & Heckle, is an imagined slogan cut from reclaimed Dundee school desks. It refers to the 1911 school strike when young people across the UK refused to go to school, provoked by the caning of a pupil in Wales. Striking pupils in Dundee made clear demands, such as the need for a half day holiday and less homework. The strike was short-lived, and after a week the children returned to their desks.
The woodblock, letterpress prints were produced following her Dreadnoughts project at the Chisenhale Gallery, London. They take slogans or ideas from political ideologies in east London from the 1830s to the 1980s. The issues are still relevant today and through her work, the artist brings them back into the public conscience.
Ruth Ewan’s sculpture adds a significant element to the contemporary collection at the McManus, whilst her prints sit well within their existing works on paper collection.