Graham Fagen
9 May — 22 November 2015
Palazzo Fontana

Graham Fagen represented Scotland at the 56th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale, running from 9 May to 22 November 2015, in a solo presentation commissioned and curated by Hospitalfield, Arbroath.

In 2016, Fagen reinterpreted the body of work originally conceived for the four noble rooms of Palazzo Fontana. In Arbroath the exhibition of sculpture, drawing and moving image was installed, with some changes and additions, in to the lovely and various historic Arts & Crafts rooms of Hospitalfield House. The exhibition ran from 19 March until 17 April 2016 with a series of events focused around the start and end of the show.

Graham Fagen

Graham Fagen is one of the UK’s foremost contemporary artists. His work mixes media and crosses continents; combining video, performance, photography, and sculpture with text and music. His recurring artistic themes include plants, journeys, poetry and popular song as a means to focus on personal and shared experience and identity. His works offer a clear-sighted perspective on the powerful forces that shape our lives.

The Exhibition

Entra nel Giardino, E dimentica la Guerra

Come into the Garden, and forget about the War

This invitation, a neon sign, marks the threshold of Graham Fagen’s exhibition.

A newly commissioned body of work, sculpture, drawing, musical composition and moving image; this is a work in four parts that establishes the landscape for a very particular ‘garden’.

The emphatic titles of the installation; Rope Tree, Scheme for Lament, Scheme for Our Nature, The Slave’s Lament are all newly devised, yet they carry echoes of motifs, ideas and language from previous works. For example, Fagen repeatedly uses the word ‘scheme’ in titles to emphasise the development of a process or plan, as in ‘schematic’, yet there is an inference here of the more underhand or the ‘scheming’…

The re-use of a specific vocabulary of text and objects, both within the making and titling of the work, reveals the concerns that underpin Fagen’s work as he continually scrutinises the ways in which we are hybridised and formed through culture and experience. Growing up in the west of Scotland, as he did, there is no escaping the poetry of Burns. Less immediately predictable perhaps, but a reflection on how we are energised by, and find common ground through, the globally eclectic nature of popular culture, is the artist’s passion for reggae music. These two bodies of history and culture, Burns and Jamaican reggae music, are made to connect at the Palazzo Fontana.

Excerpt from Lucy Byatt’s introduction text within the Exhibition Guide, Graham Fagen: Scotland + Venice.

Palazzo Fontana

Palazzo Fontana was a new location for Scotland’s presentation at the Venice Biennale and this will be the first time that the palazzo has been used for the Biennale. Graham Fagen presented an entirely new body of work devised for the rooms of this historic and atmospheric palazzo.

Built at the end of the 16th century by pupils of the leading Renaissance architect Jacopo Sansovino, the palazzo is centrally located on the Grand Canal in the Cannaregio district of Venice; only a short walk from the Ca’ D’Oro vaporetto, and accessible on foot from La Strada Nuova.



Hospitalfield’s proposal to commission Graham Fagen, and to curate a new exhibition for the Venice Biennale 2015, was selected by the Scotland + Venice Partnership in early 2014.

Hospitalfield is committed to supporting artists and others working predominantly within the visual arts through its core programme of residencies and new commissions. The programme is accommodated within one of Scotland’s most important historic houses which from 1890 was conceived as one of the first art schools in the country. The house and estate on the rural east coast of Scotland, were left in trust by artist Patrick Allan-Fraser (1813-1890). Hospitalfield holds a core collection of 18th and 19th century art, painting, drawing, sculpture and furniture and has architecture and finely crafted interiors that were commissioned in the mid 19th century, building upon a far earlier foundation dating back to the 12th century.

The collaboration with Graham Fagen and the presentation of his work in Venice presented a unique opportunity to extend and platform Hospitalfield’s work in an international context.

The organisation will bring Graham Fagen’s work back to Scotland for an exhibition at Hospitalfield House between 19 March and 17 April 2016.


Graham Fagen at Hospitalfield in 2016

Opening on the 19 March 2016 , Graham Fagen will bring the body of work commissioned for Scotland + Venice back to Hospitalfield on the East Coast of Scotland.

Fagen will reinterpret the body of work he made for Scotland + Venice 2015. The original exhibition was made for the four noble rooms of Palazzo Fontana, on the Grand Canal. When exhibited in Arbroath the exhibition of sculpture, drawing and moving image will be installed, with some changes and additions, within the lovely and various historic Arts & Crafts rooms of Hospitalfield House.

Venice Biennale

La Biennale di Venezia is the largest and most prestigious visual arts exhibition in the world. This will be the seventh presentation from Scotland + Venice, a partnership between Creative Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland, and the British Council. For the partners Venice is an important project that helps to build Scotland’s profile and reputation as an international centre for the visual arts.

Publication: Graham Fagen

On the occasion of the exhibition a catalogue has been published documenting the new body of work, and providing a range of insights/perspectives on the development of Graham Fagen’s practice, featuring new texts by: Katrina Brown; Penelope Curtis; and Louise Welsh with an introduction by Lucy Byatt, Director of Hospitalfield.

To purchase either the Graham Fagen book or The Slave’s Lament limited edition 10 inch vinyl record please contact us or use the links to buy online.


Limited Edition 10 Inch Vinyl Record: The Slave's Lament

The original edition 1 of The Slave’s Lament sold out during the exhibition run in Venice.

Hospitalfield have published a new edition 2 of The Slave’s Lament – 300 clear vinyl records; visit their website for more info and to purchase online…


Curated by Hospitalfield, Hospitalfield House, Arbroath, Angus, DD11 2NH
Producer Jane Connarty
Design Maeve Redmond
Publication Design Richy Lamb
Returned to Scotland 19 March - 17 April


Powderhall Bronze / Outset Scotland / Barcapel Foundation / Arbikie Highland Estate / Contini / Grant's Whiskey / RR. Spink & Sons / Hospitalfield Alumni Association / Arts & Business / Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design / City of Glasgow College / Dundee & Angus College / Edinburgh College of Art / The Glasgow School of ArtGray's School of ArtMoray School of Art, University of the Highlands and Islands