30 March 2023 — Announcement

National Galleries of Scotland acquire two major installations by acclaimed artist Alberta Whittle, ahead of her solo exhibition opening this Saturday

A large tapestry composed of imagery of snakes, water, diamonds and hands, suspended on a green gate
Pictured: Entanglement is more than blood by Alberta Whittle. Credit: Neil Hanna Photography

The National Galleries of Scotland has announced the acquisition of two major works by the celebrated Barbadian-Scottish artist, Alberta Whittle.

The artist’s extraordinary installation with tapestry, Entanglement is more than blood (2022), and thought-provoking film, Lagareh – The Last Born (2022), will form an integral part of Alberta Whittle: create dangerously. The free exhibition opens to the public this Saturday 1 April 2023 at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One) in Edinburgh.

The two works were at the heart of the artist’s critically acclaimed exhibition at the 59th Venice Biennale, 2022, where she represented Scotland. Their entry into the national collection forms a significant legacy of this landmark project. Indicative of Alberta’s art practice, Entanglement is more than blood and Lagareh – The Last Born promote compassion and collective care as a means of resisting racism and anti-Blackness. The sculpture and film installation confront the violence of colonialism, the legacies of transatlantic chattel slavery, and the impact of the climate crisis.

Co-commissioned and created in collaboration with Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh, Entanglement is more than blood is a large-scale tapestry on a gate-like structure. It is imbued with the artist’s rich symbolism, including water, snakes, diamonds, hands, and shells. Acting as a portal, the tapestry explores the meaning of family, kinship and ancestral histories, themes that will echo throughout the exhibition.

The imagery in the tapestry is also seen in Lagareh – The Last Born, which was co-commissioned and produced by Forma Arts, London. Centring the collective strength of contemporary Black womxn, this 43-minute film is anchored in ideas of abolition, rebellion, grief, and love. Shot on location in Scotland, London, and Barbados, and featuring footage from Sierra Leone and Venice, Alberta has woven together contrasting stories of individual acts of resistance against racist violence with gentle moments of intimacy. Lagareh – The Last Born will play continuously throughout the day, and for visitors who wish to see it from the beginning, screening start times will be made available in the gallery and on the National Galleries of Scotland website.

Alberta Whittle said: ‘As a kid on school trips, we often went to museums and I was mesmerised, but I also found myself searching for images and artworks that reflected my family, my history and my experiences. These acquisitions by National Galleries of Scotland have made me feel optimistic about how conversations are changing and how my work may bring in new young artists who are searching for something that inspires them to think differently.’

Lucy Askew, Chief Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Galleries of Scotland, said: ‘We are hugely excited to be able to expand the nation’s holdings of Alberta’s powerful and important work. Entanglement is more than blood and Lagareh – The Last Born are each deeply rooted in Scotland’s past and present times, speaking strongly of the community and care needed to resist racism. We are delighted that these vital works, layered with Alberta’s evocative symbolism, have found their home in the national collection, and that they now belong to all of us.’