The Hunterian, University of Glasgow has been celebrating #EdwinMorgan100 with an online and physical exhibition titled ‘Edwin Morgan: An Eardley On My Wall’. While the the Hunterian Art Gallery is closed until the New Year, the virtual exhibition is still able to be viewed online and once re-opened, the physical exhibition will be up until February 7.
The exhibition was devised and selected by Eleanor Capaldi, LGBTQ+ Project Assistant at The Hunterian, and Morgan Henderson, a Masters student in the College of Arts at the University of Glasgow. They share their thoughts about curating ‘Edwin Morgan: An Eardley On My Wall’ below:
“We approached Edwin’s collection with open minds and no assumptions, and let his selection guide us. From the artworks we could discern favoured types of scenes, such as portraits, and landscapes. Amongst his collection there also emerged connections to fellow writers and artists such as John Byrne and Joan Eardley, with a strong representation of Scottish artists across the collection. A number of his paintings also focused on male sitters for portraits. From this we identified three themes: Creativity, National Identity and Sexuality.Eleanor Capaldi and Morgan Henderson, 2020.
Even though the exhibition resides online at the moment, it was designed to be displayed physically in the Hunterian Art Gallery in the Showcase space. Taking into account the size of the space we needed to pick artworks we felt represented his collections and worked well alongside each other.
Edwin contemplated attending art school himself, before studying English Language and Literature at the University of Glasgow. His connection to the city was strong, and he lived, studied and taught here his whole life, although he was adept at languages and also translated poetry. Between the Centenary and his Glasgow connection, it provided the occasion to reflect on his many contributions to poetry and the art scene more widely, and his connection to the University. We hope that the exhibition helps to reveal many facets of who he was and what he liked and demonstrates how these are inextricably linked to one another.
It was important to us not to shy away from including his sexuality, as this is reflected in his own curatorial choices, but it was also a part of his life. An aspect which he could not publicly announce until he was 70, such were the wider social attitudes and criminalisation of homosexuality throughout his time. Through his poems however, these stories could be told, and in his choice of art, they are reflected.
Given his vast legacy of inventive and emotionally resonant poetry, including concrete poems which use visual shapes to convey meaning, we chose some short excerpts from his poetry to pair with each section to demonstrate the flow of creativity, and how closely the visual and the written can sit. Edwin wrote poems in response to Hunterian objects in the past too (such as The Bearsden Shark). In his scrapbooks which he gave to the University archives, you can see text and image appear in another form. Edwin’s one and only self-made artwork in the collection and on display, Two Angelfish, has proven popular so far with audiences. We hope he would have liked seeing it on display, including him in the exhibition as an artist as well as a writer.”