In a four-part series, artist Lachlan Goudie traces the development of Scottish art from the Neolithic Era to the present day, and looks at its impact on the international art world.
Runtime: 60 minutes
The Story of Scottish Art - Prehistoric art in Scotland - Netflix
Prehistoric art in Scotland is visual art created or found within the modern borders of Scotland, before the departure of the Romans from southern and central Britain in the early fifth century CE, which is usually seen as the beginning of the early historic or Medieval era. There is no clear definition of prehistoric art among scholars and objects that may involve creativity often lack a context that would allow them to be understood. The earliest examples of portable art from what is now Scotland are highly decorated carved stone balls from the Neolithic period, which share patterns with Irish and Scottish stone carvings. Other items from this period include elaborate carved maceheads and figurines from Links of Noltland, including the Westray Wife, which is the earliest known depiction of a human face from Scotland. From the Bronze Age there are examples of carvings, including the first representations of objects, and cup and ring marks. Representations of an axe and a boat at the Ri Cruin Cairn in Kilmartin, and a boat pecked into Wemyss Cave, are probably the oldest two-dimensional representations of real objects that survive in Scotland. Elaborate carved stone battle-axes may be symbolic representations of power. Surviving metalwork includes gold lunula or neckplates, jet beaded necklaces and elaborate weaponry, such as leaf swords and ceremonial shields of sheet bronze. From the Iron Age there are more extensive examples of patterned objects and gold work. Evidence of the wider La Tène culture includes the Torrs Pony-cap and Horns. The Stirling torcs demonstrate common styles found in Scotland and Ireland and continental workmanship. One of the most impressive items from this period is the boar's head fragment of the Deskford carnyx. From the first century CE, as Rome carried out a series of occupations, there are Roman artifacts like the Cramond Lioness and Roman influence on material culture can be seen in local stone carvings.
The Story of Scottish Art - Definitions and meanings - Netflix
The ability to study prehistoric art is dependent on surviving artifacts. Art created in mediums such as sand, bark, hides and textiles has not normally endured, while less-perishable materials, such as rock, stone, bone, ivory (and to a lesser extent wood), later pottery and metal, are more likely to be extant. Whether all these artifacts can be defined as works of art is contested between scholars. Alexander Marshack argued that the earliest, non-representational incisions on rock mark the beginnings of human art. More cautiously, Paul Mellars suggests that the relative rarity of these works means they cannot be seen as integral to early human society and evidence of an artistic culture. Colin Renfrew has pointed out the dangers of applying modern values of art to past societies and cultures. Günter Berghaus argues that these works have often been approached with a set of post-Renaissance aesthetic values that distinguish between artists and craftsman and art and artifact, although these categories are not universal and may be inappropriate for understanding prehistoric society. Duncan Garrow has pointed to the difficulties of the modern distinction drawn between form and decoration. The emphasis in studies of prehistoric art tend to be placed on decoration in objects such as ceramics and ignores the importance of form, found in objects such as weapons. Many meanings have been suggested for the advent and nature of prehistoric art. It may have helped develop human solidarity in its early stages. Open air rock art may have acted as signposts for the route of animal migrations. Cave art may have had a ritual role in rites of initiation, vision quests or totemic ceremonies. Portable objects may have acted as notation systems and anthropomorphic figures may have had a role in religious rituals. However, most artifacts can only be understood in their context, which is often lost or poorly understood.
The Story of Scottish Art - References - Netflix