Press release

Alastair MacLennan exhibition to celebrate archive donation

Published on 10 June 2019

Work spanning the entire career of Alastair MacLennan, one of the UK’s leading live art practitioners, will be exhibited together for the first time at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD) later this month

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MacLennan is a graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone and recently donated his entire archive to his alma mater. The exhibition, entitled ‘Alastair MacLennan: Actuations and Other Works’ celebrates this gift and opens on the 5th floor of the Matthew Building on Wednesday 19 June. He will also receive an Honorary Degree from the University of Dundee at its summer Graduation ceremony the same day.

An artist of the highest international standing, MacLennan is primarily known for his performance art but has also embraced painting, drawing, sculpture and installation at various points in his career. He established his distinctive form of performance, which he refers to as ‘actuations’, in the early 1970s and has performed and exhibited extensively since then, both individually and collaboratively.

The extensive archive gifted to the University documents more than 600 performances presented throughout the world. The exhibition features drawings, objects, and video and photographic documentation of selected performances as well as some of his student paintings and works transferred in the 1990s from the collection of the then Scottish Arts Council.

“It is most fitting that this exhibition will open on the day that Alastair MacLennan will receive an Honorary Doctorate and in the same ceremony at which our students of art and design will graduate,” said Janice Aitken, Associate Dean for Public and Community Engagement at DJCAD.

“Alastair is one of Britain’s major practitioners in live art and a distinguished and celebrated alumnus of Duncan of Jordanstone. Seeing his incredible body of work exhibited and hearing from him at their Graduation ceremony will be inspirational to the class of 2019 as they look to go out and make their mark in their chosen field.

“This exhibition draws heavily on the archive he very kindly donated to us in recognition of the foundation it provided for his later success and for what it continues to do for young artists to this day. What is particularly exciting is that we have been able to bring together examples not just from the part of his career for which he has been internationally celebrated but also his student work. It is the first time that work spanning his entire career will be shown together.”

The internationally acclaimed performance artist was born in Blair Atholl in 1943 and trained at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, then an independent institution, in the 1960s. Alistair then gained a Master of Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before moving to Belfast in 1975 to take up a teaching post at Ulster University. Though he has lived in Northern Ireland for more than 40 years, he continues to define himself as a Scottish artist.

‘Alastair MacLennan: Actuations and Other Works’ opens on the 5th floor of the Matthew Building on Wednesday 19 June. Entry is free and is open from 10.30am – 5pm each weekday until Wednesday 19 July.


Press Office, University of Dundee
Story category Events and exhibitions