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In the Navy

October 25, 2010

With only just over a year to go until we open, the detailed design packs for the first batch of galleries have been delivered to us for checking from our fantastic designers Studioarc.

Designs of the new Portrait Gallery elevations alongside an image of John Lavery's The Forth Bridge, 1914, which will be on display when the Gallery re-opens.

I’m working on the Modernity section that explores some fascinating aspects of 20th century Scotland. In checking the design packs we need to be absolutely sure that everything is located correctly and that we are happy with the layouts to ensure that when we come to install the works of art, everything goes to plan.

Freelance curator Angela Weight with designer's drawings

Yesterday I met up with Angela Weight, an experienced freelance curator from London (previously Imperial War Museum), who has for the last two years been researching the largest gallery in this suite, War at Sea. This exhibition looks at the lesser-known naval strategies of World War One from the perspective of the paintings of official war artist and Glasgow Boy, Sir John Lavery.


Lavery’s paintings, all loans from the Imperial War Museum, are incredible and give us a real sense of Scotland’s contributions to the war at a time when it became a largely militarised zone.

They include a fabulous range of subjects such as several dramatic scenes of the British fleet in the Firth of Forth and the gigantic airships at East Fortune. In one of the most striking of these, Lavery’s viewpoint suggests that he must have been on board an airship, leaning right out when he made his sketch. It looks very like an image that might have been taken with a camera, although there is no concrete evidence of this from Lavery.

Part of Angela’s research has been to travel to many of the locations that Lavery visited in order to discover his motivations and his journey. Ill health and injury kept him from going to the Western Front but had it not been for this we would not have this fascinating glimpse of the other side of the war. Despite being ill, Lavery was intrepid and brave in his quest to document what he saw first hand. He even managed to smuggle himself in to the room on board HMS Queen Elizabeth at Rosyth, in order to depict the historic signing of the German surrender on 16th November 1918.

You’ll hear more about Angela’s travels in future blogs, including her trips to Orkney, Scapa Flow and Le Touquet in France. The exhibition also features a section on women’s contributions to the war including some of Lavery’s paintings of Munitions factories and a set of photographs by George P.Lewis.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Catherine permalink
    October 28, 2010 12:31 pm

    fantastic blog – keep up the good work!

    • Sarah Saunders permalink
      October 28, 2010 1:09 pm

      Thanks Catherine! There will be lots more to come about this exhibition so keep watching!
      Best wishes,

  2. Tricia Allerston permalink
    October 28, 2010 2:14 pm

    Great to have an insight into the work behind the scenes.

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