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British Council pledges continued support for Scottish show at Biennale

The UK's leading overseas cultural body will continue to support Scotland's show at the world's biggest visual arts festival even if voters back independence in next year's referendum.

EXHIBITING IN ITALY: Glasgow-based artists Corin Sworn, Hayley Tompkins and Duncan Campbell at The Glasgow School of Art. Picture: Alan Dimmick PARTNER: Director of the British Council in Scotland, Lloyd Anderson BIG NAMES:Scottish Artists including Martin Boyce, whose work is shown left, and Karla Black, right, have featured in Biennale shows.
EXHIBITING IN ITALY: Glasgow-based artists Corin Sworn, Hayley Tompkins and Duncan Campbell at The Glasgow School of Art. Picture: Alan Dimmick PARTNER: Director of the British Council in Scotland, Lloyd Anderson BIG NAMES:Scottish Artists including Martin Boyce, whose work is shown left, and Karla Black, right, have featured in Biennale shows.

Lloyd Anderson, director of the British Council in Scotland, said the UK's cultural body would still support future events by artists from north of the Border at the Venice Biennale, whatever the country decides.

Scotland's show opens for its first reviews today – ahead of the start of the Biennale on June 1 – and features the work of three Glasgow-based artists: Corin Sworn, Duncan Campbell and Hayley Tompkins.

All three have studied at Glasgow School of Art.

Mr Campbell is presenting a film and other works inspired by a French movie about colonialism; Ms Sworn includes a fractured Glasgow mosaic from a Victorian city tenement in her show; while Ms Tompkins presents a series of painted works that will be displayed on the Palazzo Pisani's floor.

Mr Anderson said: "We are an independent body ourselves, and we have no part in the debate.

"Whatever happens [in the vote], there is a job of work to be done to promote Scotland on the international stage and to get people to appreciate that, and irrespective of what happens in the referendum, the Government will want to promote Scotland on the international stage, and whatever happens, we will do that too.

"I really do think we will still be here and still promoting Scotland in whatever form it takes, we will still want to work with our partners and we will still be promoting Scottish artists."

He added: "We have been a partner from the start of Scotland and Venice and there have been some amazing exhibitions.

"It is always a very strong show. This is the pre-eminent event in the visual arts and everyone is going to be there.

"If you weren't there, it would say something about the state of the visual arts in your country."

Costing about £500,000 and supported by Creative Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and the British Council, the show is officially designated a collateral event at the 55th running of the festival.

This year marks 10 years of a separate Scottish show outside the main UK pavilion, run by the British Council, at the Italian canal city's main display area, the Giardini gardens.

The next Biennale show for Scotland, in 2015, could be its first as an independent nation at the influential show. There are 88 other official national shows at this year's festival.

Hundreds of artists display their work in more than 100 shows, with hundreds of the world's art press, curators, collectors, gallerists and gallery directors attending as well as 20,000 members of the public.

Notable artists from Scotland who have displayed art at the Biennale include Turner Prize winners Martin Boyce and Simon Starling, and nominees Karla Black, Jim Lambie and Cathy Wilkes.

Amanda Catto, the manager for visual arts for Creative Scotland, said: "This is the most significant event for visual arts in the world, it has a long, long history but it is still very relevant."

l Phil Miller is reporting from the Biennale this week, including the first review of the Scotland +Venice show in tomorrow's edition of The Herald.

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