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Freelands Award – Press Release

Headphone Music, Boats and Trains, 2016. Installation view, Deep in the Heart of Your Brain, Glasgow Museums, GoMA. Photo: Ruth Clark. Courtesy the artist and Patricia Fleming Projects.


The Fruitmarket Gallery announced as the winner of the inaugural
Freelands Award

Today the Freelands Foundation announced that The Fruitmarket Gallery is the recipient of the inaugural Freelands Award.

The annual Freelands Award was established to enable a regional arts organisation to present an exhibition, including significant new work, by a mid-career female artist who may not have yet received the acclaim or public recognition that her work deserves. The total value of the award is £100,000, of which £25,000 is to be paid directly to the artist chosen by the organisation.

The Fruitmarket Gallery has received the Award for the major exhibition we will present with artist Jacqueline Donachie next year.

Elisabeth Murdoch, Founder of Freelands Foundation and Chair of the selection panel for the Award, commented:

“The Fruitmarket Gallery has a long tradition of excellence both in the UK and the international contemporary art world. As a jury, we were most impressed by their commitment to placing the artist at the centre of their work and their dedication to ambitious exhibition-making and accompanying artist led publications. Their proposal to work with Jacqueline Donachie showed a deep sensitivity to the intention behind the Freelands Award. As The Fruitmarket stated in their application, Jacqueline is a noted member of the so-called “Glasgow Miracle” – and yet after 25 years she has never had an exhibition that brings together new and existing work to allow an appraisal of her diverse practice as a whole. With this award, The Fruitmarket Gallery will provide Jacqueline with the financial freedom and curatorial support to create ambitious new work and enable greater recognition.

“The work of our all our shortlisted regional organisations is outstanding. On behalf of my fellow jurors I would like to thank all of them for participating and congratulate them on their superb applications.”

Fiona Bradley, Director of The Fruitmarket Gallery said;
“I am thrilled at this endorsement from the Freelands Foundation of The Fruitmarket Gallery and the way we work with artists. The award represents an exceptional opportunity, putting substantial funding in place which enables both the Gallery and Jacqueline Donachie to concentrate on making a great exhibition and accompanying publication, knowing that there’s the budget to match our ambitions. Jacqueline is such an exciting artist, and we are confident that she will make the most of the transformational opportunity the award offers, and make something very special for our audiences.”

Jacqueline Donachie said:
“I am thrilled to be working with The Fruitmarket Gallery on this survey exhibition; to now have the recognition of the Freelands Award is both exciting and liberating. The funding it gives will enable me to produce new work for the show, and allow me to devote the time necessary to collaborate with the gallery on a book that reflects on my past work. I have always sought to position myself and my art practice centrally to the world in which we all live, and this exhibition and award gives me a fantastic opportunity to continue with this, at an important stage in my career.”

The selection panel for the award winner were: Elisabeth Murdoch (Chair), Phyllida Barlow (Artist), Martin Clark (Director, Bergen Kunsthall, Norway), Teresa Gleadowe (Curator) and Jenni Lomax (Director, Camden Arts Centre, London).

The shortlisted organisations selected for the inaugural award were announced in June:

Arnolfini, Bristol
BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Art, Gateshead
The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh
Ikon, Birmingham
Turner Contemporary, Margate
The Whitworth, Manchester

Notes to Editors

Jacqueline Donachie

Jacqueline Donachie (born 1969 in Glasgow) studied in the Environmental Art Department of Glasgow School of Art from 1987 to 1991. Part of the generation of Glasgow-based artists that includes Christine Borland, Martin Boyce, Roderick Buchanan, Nathan Coley, Douglas Gordon and Ross Sinclair, she was a committee member at Transmission Gallery from 1993 to 1995, before going on to an MFA at Hunter College, New York in 1996.

Donachie has exhibited internationally, with solo exhibitions and commissions at IASPIS, Stockholm (2002); Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester (2004); The Hunterian, Glasgow (2006); and Glasgow Museums GoMA (2016). Her work has been included in major group exhibitions, including Here and Now, Scottish Art 1990–2001 at Dundee Contemporary Arts (2001); Talking Loud and Sayin’ Something at Gothenburg Museum of Art (2008); Glasgow International (2010); Artists and Science, Weizmann Institute of Science, Tel Aviv (2013); Desire Lines, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne (2013); and Generation, 25 years of Scottish Art (2015). She also creates public, site-specific projects and publishes artist books. She lives and works in Glasgow.

Jacqueline Donachie’s art is rooted in an exploration of individual, family and collective identity and the structures, platforms and spaces (both actual and conceptual) through which it is constructed and supported. Her work encompasses sculpture, installations, photographs, films, drawings and performance, and is research-based, collaborative and participatory. Interested in ‘expert cultures’ and how interacting with them can provide material for art, she has made work with members of a wide range of communities including hospital staff and patients, members of a judo club for the visually impaired, dancers from topless bars around Edinburgh, users of public transport, and members of a gospel choir. In recent years, she has focused much of her work in the social and scientific contexts of disease, disability and difference, working with scientists, researchers and individuals whose lives have been affected by specific genetic conditions.

Donachie is one of a number of artists currently working (Jeremy Deller, Phil Collins, Ross Sinclair are others) whose practice depends on direct and convincing engagement with the communities for and with whom it is made. She often sites work in public spaces, and uses means and materials drawn from the everyday urban environment, as for example in Glasgow Slow Down, a mass community cycling event which resulted in a huge collaborative chalk drawing across the city of Glasgow launching the countdown to the 2015 Commonwealth Games.

In 1999, Donachie’s sister’s second child was diagnosed at birth with myotonic dystrophy, a genetic condition with a distinct pattern (mild, late-onset symptoms in the grandparental generation, more severe symptoms in the parental, profoundly disabling symptoms in the child). Pregnant herself at the time, Donachie discovered that she had been passed the healthy gene, and that she and her subsequent three children were unaffected by the disease, while the rest of her family were variously and progressively disabled by it.

Committed as she is to making art which helps us make sense of who we are and our place in the world, Donachie’s response to the sudden medical revelations within her own family, and the subsequent alteration of her family’s and her own sense of identity, was to use it as a context for art. Collaborating with a range of medical and research professionals and with a number of affected families, she made Tomorrow Belongs to Me, a project culminating in a film, book and exhibition for the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow in 2006; and Deep in the Heart of Your Brain, an exhibition for Glasgow Museums GoMA in 2016, which brings together sculpture, drawings and film informed by the material she has gathered and relationships she has made during the course of her research into myotonic dystrophy.

The Fruitmarket Gallery
The Fruitmarket Gallery brings to Scotland the work of some of the world’s most important artists. We recognise that art can change lives and we offer an intimate encounter with art for free.

We make exhibitions, commissions and publications directly in collaboration with artists. We celebrate new thinking, and offer an international platform for artists, curators and writers, whether they have made their reputation here or abroad.

The Fruitmarket Gallery welcomes all audiences. We make it easy for everyone to engage with art, encouraging questions and supporting debate.

Freelands Foundation

Freelands Foundation was set up by Elisabeth Murdoch in 2015. The Foundation’s mission is to support artists and cultural institutions, to broaden audiences for the visual arts and to enable all young people to engage actively with the creation and enjoyment of art.

The Foundation’s priorities are to support and develop projects which:

  1. Promote creative ambition and support artists to fulfil their aspirations, to produce and exhibit exceptional work and to interact with audiences across the UK.
  2. Encourage young people to engage in the creation and enjoyment of art, particularly through support to teachers and teacher training and the exploration of experimental approaches to art education.
  3. Research and articulate the value that art and culture bring to society.

The Freelands Award was launched in March 2016 and has been established to support a regional institution in working with a mid-career female artist to realise a substantial exhibition with a focus on new work. The platform created will prove transformational for the artist at a significant moment in her career.

The Award was set up in response to a report, commissioned by the foundation in 2015, which discovered that although female art and design graduates outnumber men, women are not adequately represented at, or beyond, mid-career point.

The Award reflects the foundation’s broader intentions by funding a partnership between an arts organisation and an artist, enabling the development of programmes across the institution including participation and education.

Alongside the Freelands Award, the Foundation is building a portfolio of grants, enabling existing institutions and organisations to develop pioneering work and new programmes. Freelands Foundation is also establishing its own programme of events and projects including The Laboratory of Ideas (salon evenings), Art Is… (a day of discussion, dialogue and ideas that took place at Tate Modern in April 2016) and a collaborative project working with the Institute of Education, University College of London and their teacher training students.