DCA at 20: A Timeline

This month marks the 20th birthday of one of Scotland’s most-beloved cultural spaces, Dundee Contemporary Arts. To mark the occasion we’ve taken a look through their archive to pick out some of the key events of the last two decades

Feature by Rosamund West | 10 Mar 2019

Encompassing two art galleries, a cinema, a print studio, cafe-bar and of course a shop featuring an array of Scottish design, DCA is the model of a contemporary arts venue. Designed by Richard Murphy Architects (also responsible for notable spaces like the Fruitmarket Gallery and one of Scotland's peerless Maggie's Centres), the building was widely celebrated on completion and continues to offer an essential hub for the cultural community of Dundee and its surrounding area. It’s difficult to imagine the city before it had access to the creative facilities and world class art routinely provided by DCA.

For their big birthday, the institution are celebrating with events throughout the year, kicking off with an artists’ talk between Turner nominees Jane and Louise Wilson (who exhibited in the gallery in 2012) and DCA’s Director Beth Bate on Tuesday 8 March. On 13 March is Artists in Print, a day-long event celebrating printmaking featuring artists’ talks and chaired discussions with Tessa Lynch, Scott Myles, Claire Barclay, Helen de Main, Edwin Pickstone and Jacqueline Butler.

The following weekend is the DCA Open Weekend, starting with the opening of new exhibition State of Print, a project that ‘provides a creative and theoretical antidote to the current paradigm’ on Friday 15 March. The cinema will offer a sneak preview of Mid90s, Jonah Hill’s new coming-of-age drama, followed on 16 to 17 March by a specially curated programme of the best-loved films from the last two decades with tickets rolled back to 1999 prices. There’s a special edition of the DCA Film Quiz on the Monday, while more interactive events come courtesy of the Learning team, who’ll be running free family-friendly drop-in workshops over the course of the weekend.

The Print Studio will also be running a series of workshops – on Saturday the focus will be on traditional printmaking techniques from Japanese woodblock printing to shadowgraphs, while on Sunday workshops will involve newer technologies like 3D printing and laser cutting.

DCA: A Timeline

DCA opens on 20 March! A key show in its first year is the UK’s first solo exhibition of visionary Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, before he finds international fame with the Weather Project, the enormous sun in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern in 2003, or his series of New York City Waterfalls of 2008. Your position surrounded and your surrounding positioned presents an immersive installation with vertical bands of light moved by air currents forcing the viewer to consider their relationship to their environment.

Discovery Film Festival, Scotland's international film festival for young audiences, launches. Running over three weekends, the programme includes screenings, gala events and creative activities. It aims to improve media literacy and offer young audiences an insight into the lives of children and young people in other cultures.

DCA's Learning team begins ST/ART, an ongoing programme collaborating with Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust (THAT) working with people who have had a stroke or suffered brain injury. Freelance printmaking tutors, DCA Learning team staff, and THAT volunteer artists work closely with ST/ART participants during four different summer school programmes introducing them to techniques including lino-cutting, mono printing, drypoint etching and screen printing.

Staking a claim to the international stage, DCA curate the surreal Martin Boyce: No Reflections for Scotland + Venice at the 53rd Venice Biennale. The upper floors of a Venetian palazzo are invaded by modernist forms, concrete stepping stones and geometric tracing paper leaves diligently folded by the team back in Dundee.

In a bumper year for print, DCA host printmaking conference IMPACT8, and present an exhibition of works by Sister Corita Kent (1918-86) alongside five contemporary artists inspired by her printmaking and life-affirming teaching – Peter Davies, Ruth Ewan, Emily Floyd, Scott Myles and Ciara Phillips. They also hold a series of pop-up events in the Galleries and Print Studio throughout the exhibition including the Poster Club and Henningham Family Press Chip Shop. 2014 also sees David Shrigley produce Untitled in the Studio

As part of the national commemorations to mark the centenary of the Battle of Loos (known as Dundee's Flodden), DCA present an exclusive screening of The Guns of Loos, with a specially commissioned live score by one of the UK's leading silent film composers Stephen Horne, which then goes on to tour Scotland.

To celebrate the 80th birthday of The Broons and Oor Wullie, DCA Thomson bring together six contemporary artists with the DC Thomson archive to create a playful multimedia exhibition. Rabiya Choudhry, Rob Churm, Craig Coulthard, Malcy Duff, Hideyuki Katsumata and Sofia Sita spend months deep in the vaults, emerging with a show celebrating contemporary life as seen through the lens of characters as seminal as the Numskulls or Dennis the Menace.

Bringing us right up to date with a double header exhibition, Scottish contemporary artists Lorna Macintyre (Pieces of You Are Here) and Margaret Salmon (Hole) occupy the DCA galleries with photography, sculpture and film work exploring touchstones from archeology and symbolism to the female erotic gaze.