Research project

Jacobites by Name

‘Jacobites by Name’ was a solo exhibition of 27 new works by Calum Colvin.

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Start date

March 2014

Completion date

October 2017




‘Jacobites by Name’ was a solo exhibition of 27 new works by Calum Colvin at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (14 November - 27 March 2016), presented as an intervention within ‘Imagining Power: The Visual Culture of the Jacobite Cause’, the Gallery’s extensive permanent display of Jacobite visual material. Marking the 300th anniversary of the 1715 Jacobite Rising, this exhibition-within- an-exhibition explored the evolution of factual and mythologised representations of the historical events, re-evaluating their influence in contemporary Scotland and providing new possibilities for re-interpretation.

Colvin’s exhibition was underpinned by a Leverhulme-funded research project in which the artist investigated the legacy and symbolism of the Jacobite Risings of 1715 and 1745 though their related material culture in museums and historically significant sites across the UK. The research led to a new body of photographic works that reframe popular symbolism found in glass and ceramic objects, optical devices and the repository of ephemera that reference the complex legacy of the Jacobite cause.

The artworks are the result of a unique technical process where the artist constructs stage-sets relating to the subject, which he then paints with imagery alluding to the matrix of meanings embedded in the iconic historical period. Through repeated iterations, the images evolve from photographs to framed canvases, glassware, ceramic, embroidery, prints and objects, an anamorphosis and a large lenticular print: the process evoking the historical reductionism and romanticisation of the Jacobite cause.

The exhibition attracted 44,921 visitors, national press attention, touring to Inverness Museum & Art Gallery (2016) and The Scottish Parliament (2017). The installation and the works were contextualised and documented by Colvin and the Gallery’s Senior Curator Julie Lawson in an artist’s book, which also featured new writings by Professor Fiona Stafford and responses by poets Kathleen Jamie and Rab Wilson.


Project lead(s)

Professor Calum Colvin