Talbot Rice Gallery Exhibition, Old College Edinburgh University building by William Playfair architect

Talbot Rice Gallery Edinburgh : Architecture

Old College of Edinburgh University design by architects Robert Adam, William Playfair

Address: Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH8 9YL

Phone: 0131 650 2210

post updated 21 April 2024

Talbot Rice Gallery

The Talbot Rice Gallery was formed in 1975 within Playfair’s building. The gallery includes the White Gallery (exhibitions) and the Red Gallery (permanent collection) connected by a beautiful circular circulation space at the top of the entry stairs.

Old College Tours every hour, on the hour (last tour 3pm), including the Playfair Library and the Raeburn Room.

Location: Old College, Edinburgh University, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, Scotland

old college dome
Edinburgh University Old College: dome image © Adrian Welch

Vaulting Ambition tours from the Soane museum in London and looks at the achievement of the Adam Brothers, and their property-developing business:

Talbot Rice Gallery – Contact Information:
The University of Edinburgh, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL
[email protected]
+44 0131 650 2210

Vaulting Ambition
The Adam Brothers, Contractors to the Metropolis in the Reign of George III
The Georgian Gallery
Exhibition open to the public: 25 Oct – 13 Dec 2008
Tue – Sat 10am – 5pm
Admission Free

Talbot Rice Gallery is pleased to host Vaulting Ambition, a touring exhibition originally shown at The Soane Museum in autumn 2007.
Known primarily as the first celebrity architects in Britain, Robert and James Adam were also partners in the biggest building company in the eighteenth century – a company that encompassed supply, materials, contracting and speculative development. Bob and Jamie were the second and third sons of the most eminent Scottish architect, William Adam, who, with their eldest brother Johnny and with Willy, the youngest son, established their business under the name of William Adam & Company in 1764, which remained trading until 1801. In the eighteenth century the four brothers embarked on a stunning regeneration scheme for a huge brownfield site in the centre of London to be known as the Adelphi.

Drawings from the Adam collection at Sir John Soane’s Museum, along with documents, drawings, paintings and family portraits lent from other public and private collections – some never seen before make up this exhibition.

Vaulting Ambition breaks new ground in a carefully researched presentation of the Adam brothers as business men, working in the building trade as well as their profession. This leg of the tour will feature many drawings of Glasgow and Edinburgh and will illustrate parallels between the Adelphi scheme and plans for urban re-development by the brothers in Scotland.

Besides the richness of their creativity, the exhibition explores how, in an utterly modern way, these Scottish entrepreneurs promoted their scheme, installed anchor tenants within the development to attract potential investors and purchasers, targeted clients of high net worth, faced down a potentially devastating financial crisis – and yet, in the end, were forced – like Macbeth – to pay an exceptional price for that “vaulting ambition which ore’ leaps itself and falls on t’other”. In many ways their ground-breaking Adelphi scheme set the template for modern metropolitan development giving this exhibition an unusually contemporary relevance.

Robert Adam Architect

A publication accompanies this exhibition.

There is also going to be a talk on the subject by the curator of the exhibition, Alistair Rowan, on Thursday 20th November from 6 – 8pm.
This will begin with an opportunity to see the exhibition, and continue in an adjoining lecture theatre. It is free but booking is advised.

Langlands & Bell
Films & Animations 1978 – 2008

Langlands & Bell
Langlands & Bell
A Muse Um
Still from computer animation

Exhibition open to the public: 25 Oct – 13 Dec 2008
Tue – Sat 10am – 5pm
Admission Free

Langlands & Bell

For all enquiries please contact Martin Minton 0131 650 2211

Talbot Rice Gallery is pleased to present its autumn season with an exhibition by Langlands & Bell.

Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell bring to the fore the codifiers and systems governing the underlying structures of society, from public architecture to air traffic control abbreviations. They are concerned with highlighting the often invisible networks that affect how we live and interact on a daily basis. Talbot Rice Gallery marks thirty years of their artistic collaboration, in an important exhibition that looks to re-assess their early film works alongside their most recent, and chart the development in their career since they began collaborating after meeting at Middlesex Polytechnic in the 70’s.

Well known for their use of modern technologies employed in the production of their animations, sculpture, object design and interactive artworks, the exhibition includes a new neon sculpture, and 13 films and animations that span their career.

The Kitchen (1978), their first film made together, is a descriptive study of two opposing spaces, one decaying, un-usable and potentially hazardous, one pristine, gleaming and inviting. The dualities highlighted in The Kitchen often re-occur in the subsequent works; initially in films with the unmistakable aesthetic of Super 8 – Ooh La La, Les Legumes! (1979) where we track a mysterious couple negotiating the back-streets of Dijon in France, Borough Market (1986) which juxtaposes traditional London market life with thrusting 80’s city workers – to their most recent film, Folkstone – Boulogne: A Blind Date (2008).

Whilst the early works have the patina of age indicative of the now superseded technologies used in their creation, digital media has become an important part of their recent working practice, with interactive works such as the installation The House of Osama bin Laden using the most modern of computer production processes. This work, created in 2003 after their visit to Afghanistan as official war artists, includes three elements; one positions the viewer as detective hunting for clues around an empty building by way of a joystick and software usually used to programme many well known role-playing computer games.

Another presents a series of images of NGO signage, whose prosaic and uniform acronyms sit uneasily in an otherwise traumatized and hostile land. The third element, Zardad’s Dog, (which caused legal controversy leading to it’s removal from their 2004 Turner Prize exhibition), gives the viewer courtroom access to the trial of Abdullah Shah, a feared militia commander. Largely untranslated, it is far removed from the everyday, western televised experience of events in the region.

The diverse nature of their output over the past thirty years presented in this exhibition reveals a web of common links that has endured through time and changes in technology.

Langlands & Bell were nominated for the Turner Prize in 2004, and were also winners of the BAFTA award in the same year for Interactive Arts Installation. They were recently included in the first Folkstone Triennial, and recent commissions include Moving World (Night & Day) two major outdoor sculptures for Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport. They live and work in London and Kent.

Talbot Rice Gallery is named after David Talbot Rice, Watson Gordon Professor of Fine Art at the University of Edinburgh from 1934 – 72 and was established in 1975. The Gallery has a commitment to showing work by Scottish and International artists. The Gallery promotes knowledge, understanding and new ideas, realised through solo and thematic exhibitions, events and publications.

A major new publication with a text by Chrissie Iles from the Whitney Museum of American Art will accompany this exhibition, along with a series of events.

Robert Adam Edinburgh Buildings

Buildings in and around Edinburgh by Robert Adam:

Register House

Old College

Charlotte Square

Hopetoun House

Archerfield House

Edinburgh University Buildings

Edinburgh University building – School of Informatics

Kings Buildings Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions

Edinburgh University Library Library – Sir Basil Spence

Queen Margaret University College Edinburgh

Old College Building Architects

Old College Architects

Robert Adam

William Playfair

Robert Rowand Anderson


Edinburgh Walking Tours

Edinburgh University Student Centre building

Comments / photos for the Talbot Rice Gallery Edinburgh University Architecture pages welcome