NVA to help provide a Scottish presence at La Biennale di Venezia


Scotland’s creativity and innovation will be on display throughout the final weekend of the greatest showcase of architecture in the world.

Public arts organisation NVA has been invited by the Scottish Government, in partnership with Creative Scotland and the British Council Scotland, to curate a distinctive Scottish presence at La Biennale di Venezia’s 2010 International Architecture Exhibition.

The Glasgow-based organisation will present public events responding to the themes of restoration and reuse of our built heritage, particularly on the potential restoration of St Peter’s Seminary near Cardross.

For the past two years NVA has been working with patrons, local groups and national partners to develop a new vision for St Peter’s Seminary – the post-war Modernist masterpiece designed by Gillespie, Kidd and Coia.

During Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 November, NVA will present screenings of Scottish film-maker Murray Grigor’s film Space and Light shot in 1972 and reshot in 2009 as Space and Light Revisited – both in St Peter’s Seminary. The films – which match each other scene for scene, and will be shown simultaneously on a split screen – show in stark contrast the decline of the building and the challenges faced by NVA in realising their plans. With those plans displayed alongside, this will be an excellent demonstration of the ingenuity and inventiveness of Scottish creative minds.

On Sunday November 21, visitors to the Biennale have the opportunity to debate restoration and related issues in a panel-led discussion featuring academics, artists and architects from across Europe. The panel will consider and discuss NVA’s ideas for St Peter’s Seminary, as well as exploring the challenges of integrating a new building opposite Mackintosh’s iconic Glasgow School of Art through examination of the project by Steven Holl Architects, in collaboration with Scottish firm JM Architects.

The discussions will be documented and a publication on the event will be produced early next year.

Minister for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said:

“This partnership ensures a distinctive presence for Scotland in Venice and provides an outstanding opportunity to highlight the quality of Scottish creativity on the world stage.

“Scotland’s presence at the final weekend of the Biennale responds in an imaginative way to the British Pavilion’s theme of restoration, and provides a platform for Scotland’s creative community to showcase and develop innovative solutions to two extremely challenging sites.

“I am pleased that visitors to the Biennale have the opportunity to explore issues of importance to the international architecture community by engaging with these contemporary Scottish examples.”

Angus Farquhar, Creative Director of NVA, said:

“NVA is honoured to curate Scotland’s presence at the Venice Biennale and to focus the invitation on a rigorous examination of two great examples of recent Scottish architecture as they head towards changed futures.

“We aim to recalibrate the resuscitation of St Peter’s Seminary within an important tradition of dynamic partial restoration, starting with John Ruskin, and to challenge ourselves and our partners to jointly find the most creative and imaginative possible solutions.”

Creative Scotland Chief Executive Andrew Dixon said:

“Creative Scotland is delighted that NVA has been invited to present at the Venice Architecture Biennale. NVA is one of Scotland’s most imaginative arts organisations. Venice provides an excellent platform to generate new thinking and to explore alternative approaches to architectural conservation.”

British Council Scotland Director Paul Docherty said:

“Every second year, alternating with Visual Arts, the City of Venice becomes the centre of the world for Architecture. I think this year’s event is particularly exciting as it is being curated by Kazuyo Sejima, Japan’s leading exponent of contemporary architecture.

‘With this year’s theme being ‘People Meet in Architecture’ I am delighted that Scotland will be presenting NVA’s work on the St Peter’s Seminary on the final two days of the Architecture Biennale. It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase Scotland’s strengths and ideas to the world’s leading architects and others such as artists and academics interested in the built heritage.”