Professor Calum Colvin


Contemporary Art Practice, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design

Portrait photo of Calum Colvin
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Born in Glasgow in 1961, Calum Colvin has exhibited his work nationally and internationally for over thirty years since graduating from the Royal College of Art, London in 1985. He was a winner of one of the first Scottish Arts Council Creative Scotland Awards from which he created the acclaimed exhibition for the SNPG ‘Ossian, Fragments of Ancient Poetry’ in 2001. He was awarded an OBE the same year and elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 2004. Colvin is Professor of Fine Art Photography and Associate Dean of Research at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee.

Colvin’s constructed photographic artworks begin as large-scale studio 'stage-sets', tableaux of everyday objects, furniture and bric-a-brac carefully posed and theatrically lit. Viewed from the fixed-point perspective of a large-format camera, painted trompe-l'oeil elements are introduced, integrating object and subject in a complex mise en scene. These are finally photographed on film, digitized and printed onto paper or canvas. These visual illusions/allegories are intended to draw the viewer into a creative dialogue as the images are interpreted, touching on contemporary concerns relating to society, the environment and aspects of national identity.

His works have been widely exhibited in venues as diverse as Orkney, Los Angeles and Ecuador, and are represented in numerous collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Museum of Fine Art, Houston; The Tate Gallery, London and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. A monograph, The Constructed Worlds of Calum Colvin: Symbol, Allegory, Myth, cataloguing his artistic career to date was published by Luath Press, Edinburgh in 2019.


1979-1983: Diploma in Sculpture, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee.

1983-1985: MA in Photography, Royal College of Art, London.

1985-1993: Lived and worked as an artist in London.

1993-2001: Lecturer in Fine Art, University of Dundee.

1995-1996: Senior Research Fellow in Digital Imaging, University of Northumbria.

2001- present: Professor of Fine Art Photography, University of Dundee.

2013 – 2018: Head of Contemporary Art Practice, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art + Design, University of Dundee. 

2018 - present: Associate Dean of Research

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1987-1990: ‘Calum Colvin’ Kathleen Ewing Gallery, Washington DC; Sander Gallery, New York; Friedman-Guinness Gallery, Heidelberg; Torch Gallery, Amsterdam; Richard Pomoroy Gallery, London; Seagate Gallery, Dundee; Salama Caro Gallery, London; Galeria 57, Madrid;Glenn/Dash Gallery, Los Angeles; California State University, Long Beach, California; Friedman-Guinness Gallery, Frankfurt; Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney; Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston; Portfolio Gallery, Edinburgh.

1991:’The Two Ways of Life’ Art Institute of Chicago; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Nickle Arts Museum, Calgary; Winnipeg Art Gallery; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe .

1993-2000: ’The Seven Deadly  Sins and the Four Last Things’ Portfolio Gallery, Edinburgh; Photographers Gallery, London; Photosynkyria, Thessalonki, Greece;Norwich Arts Centre; BM Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul; Banco Central Art Gallery, Quenca, Ecuador; British Council, Quito, Ecuador; Royal Photographic Society, Bath; Fotomuseum, Stadtmuseum, Munich; Seagate Gallery, Dundee; Photography Centre of Athens; Forum Gallery, Zagreb, Croatia; Varazdin Town Museum, Croatia; BM Contemporary Art Centre, Istanbul; Izfas Art Gallery, Ismir; State Fine Arts Gallery, Ankara; Encontros da Imagem, Braga, Portugal; Kawasaki City Museum, Japan; The Meffan Institute, Angus.

1996- 2000 ‘Pseudologica Fantastica’ Impressions Gallery, York; Focal Point Gallery, Southend -on –Sea; Portfolio Gallery, Edinburgh; Theatr Clwyd, Mold, Wales; Centre Cultural Caixa de Terassa, Barcelona; University of Salamanca; Centro de Arte Contemporaneo, Seville; Viewpoint Gallery, Salford, Manchester; Leeds Metropolitan University Gallery; Piece Hall Gallery, Halifax.

1998-2003:‘Sacred and Profane’ Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; National Machado de Castro Museum, Coimbra, Portugal; Martha Schneider Gallery, Chicago; Peacock Printmakers, Aberdeen; Crawford Art Centre, St Andrews.

2002-2008: ‘Ossian, Fragments of Ancient Poetry’ Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh; Iona Gallery, Kingussie; Swanson Gallery, Thurso; An Tuireann, Skye; Timespan, Helmsdale; St Fergus Gallery, Wick; Inverness Museum and Art Gallery; Birnam Institute, Dunkeld; Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries; Festival de Musique de Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Beaulieu, France; UNESCO, Paris; Inverness County Centre for the Arts, Nova Scotia; University of Guelph, Canada.

2009: ‘Natural Magic’ Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh; Inverness Museum and Art Gallery; Swanson Gallery Thurso; St Fergus Gallery, Wick.

2014: ‘The Magic Box’ Edinburgh Printmakers 1/8/14-6/9/14.

2013/15: ‘Burnsiana’ Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Ayr; Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh: Dick Institute, Kilmarnock.

2016/17: ‘Jacobites by Name’ Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh; Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh.

2017: ‘Museography’ McManus Galleries, Dundee.

2020: 'Constructed Worlds' Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh.


Works included in many public collections including Victoria and Albert Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York; Scottish National Portrait Gallery; The British Council; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; Royal Photographic Society; Arnolfini Collection Trust; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Ferens Museum, Hull; Art Institute of Chicago; Tate Gallery; Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow; Aberdeen Art Gallery; City Art Centre, Edinburgh; Deutsche Bank; The Scottish Parliament. McManus Galleries, Dundee; City of Glasgow College.

Media availability

I am available for media commentary on my research.

Calum Colvin is Professor of Fine Art Photography and his practice-based research takes the form of visual illusions/allegories which investigate contemporary concerns relating to society, the environment and aspects of national identity. Areas of expertise include historical and contemporary photography, installation art and various contemporary cultural concerns. He has extensive international media experience.

Contact Corporate Communications for media enquiries.

Areas of expertise

  • Art and design


Award Year
Commendation for Engaged Researcher of the Year 2018
Stephen Fry Award for Excellence in Public Engagement with Research 2013