THE story of Scottish art and its impact on the international art world is celebrated in this new, ambitious four-part series by BBC Scotland – starting tonight, on BBC Two Scotland at 2100.
Presented by acclaimed artist, Lachlan Goudie, the series covers 5,000 years, from the earliest Neolithic art to the present day.
It was made in-house and here, researcher, Bianca Zamfira, answers the questions…
Who commissioned the programme?
Ewan Angus, commissioning editor, TV, BBC Scotland.
Explain the thinking behind the programme’s ‘look and feel’.
Scotland has a very rich history but perhaps its art history has been somewhat overlooked.
We wanted to rectify this with the series and present a chronological development of the arts in Scotland, from the earliest times to the present day. Going through the centuries, we tried to portray how the various art forms mirrored, challenged and defined the notions we have of Scotland today.
Who are the key personnel? How were they recruited?
Tim Neil – producer/director
John Hodgson – producer/director
Katy Homan – producer/director
Maurice O’Brien – producer/director
Matthew Springford – series producer
They are all experienced directors in the arts team, who have made excellent programmes before and were all very keen to take on the challenge of telling this story.
Matthew has a long track record of producing and overseeing programmes for BBC Arts.
What kit and software?
Because the rationale behind this series is to focus on the art, we needed a camera that would do justice to art forms that were either very old or very new, and we chose the C300 in order to capture every detail of the smallest or largest pieces.
We needed versatility and a great dynamic range, and also a camera that would give us the best image regardless of what we were filming – interviews, extreme close-ups, drawing lessons, even boat-to-boat filming.
We opted to have aerials as well, and we used a drone in each of the episodes. For instance, there is a strong element of awe and wonder when looking at the 5,000 year-old standing stones of Callanish and showing these from above or further away meant we could capture them whole, together, and express their beauty more aptly.
The whole series was shot by DOP, Alastair McCormick, which gave us a continuity and a visual aesthetic across all episodes.
What were the main production challenges?
Covering so much history in just under four hours means that a lot of relevant material has to be left out.
Deciding what to put in and what to leave out was probably the most challenging aspect of the production, because some of our viewers might question why their favourite artists are not represented in the series.
We are very grateful to all the institutions throughout Scotland and elsewhere who have made the art available to us, and to the respective estates of artists who have supported – indeed, encouraged – and helped make each episode as rich as possible.
Lachlan, of course, had a separate challenge, in trying to define what a Scottish artist is, by revisiting the personal narrative that he grew up with, that of his father, the late Alexander Goudie – himself a well-known artist.
Throughout the series, he tackles issues such as national identity, the dichotomy between tradition (tonal subtlety, draughtsmanship, etc) and rebel art forms, international influences and artistic allegiances, and looks at seminal works that are part of not just Scottish art history, but art history as a discipline and all-encompassing narrative of human expression.
His vast knowledge on the topic and passionate attachment to it have been invaluable in shaping the episodes.
What did you most learn and enjoy from the experience?
Firstly, seeing all this art up close, discovering it in its many forms across space and time, has been a joyful experience.
But more than that, most rewarding has been incorporating art history into the greater history of Scotland, as a nation.
Going to so many places to trace the narrative of Scottish art – Orkney, the Western Isles, Italy, France, London, to name but a few – has given flesh to history and I hope our viewers will think so too.