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Former Herald art critic donates huge archive to students

AN archive including more than 10,000 articles from more than 35 years of reporting from the cutting edge of the art world has been donated to Scottish students and academics.

Former art critic Clare Henry has donated her archive of reviews, cuttings and photos to Glasgow School of Art.
Former art critic Clare Henry has donated her archive of reviews, cuttings and photos to Glasgow School of Art.

Clare Henry, who was The Herald's art critic for 20 years, has donated her entire archive from her long and distinguished career to Glasgow School of Art, where it will be catalogued and put online.

A curator as well as a critic, Ms Henry's archive, which includes drafts, reviews, cuttings, programmes, flyers and photographs, will provide students and researchers with a wealth of information about the Scottish art scene over several decades.

The wave of talented and successful Scottish artists of the 1980s and 1990s, as well as Glasgow's landmark year as European City of Culture, are all addressed in detail in the extensive collection or writings and documents.

Ms Henry said: "It really is around 37 years worth of documents from around 1976 to today, from a very exciting time when the art scene was really flourishing.

"There are lots of notebooks, interviews, things like photographs of the young Douglas Gordon [Turner Prize winning Scottish artist] and the young Peter Howson, and papers on which I have scribbled my notes.

"There is a wealth of information there, and it was also such an interesting time in the social history of Glasgow - how it pulled itself out of a really dire state in the 1950s and 1960s to 1990, which was just a superb moment."

For 20 years, Ms Henry was one of the key arts staff for The Herald, writing around 200 articles a year, not only penning reviews but interviews, profiles, and stories on arts politics.

She moved to New York in 2000 where she wrote art criticism for the Financial Times and The Scotsman, but is now spending more time in Glasgow while writing for various magazines in the UK and US.

She said that there were other institutions, in the US, which could have received her archive but in the end the GSA seemed to be the "most obvious".

The archive is now at the GSA and being catalogued and some of it will be available online this summer.

Susannah Waters, archivist for the GSA, said: "We are really pleased to add this archive to our collection because it covers a period when Scottish artists were really beginning to attract national and international attention.

"The archive is pretty extensive, with articles covering every year, some of them annotated, we are delighted to have it."

Ms Henry curated many exhibitions in the 1980s and 1990s including, among others, a Scottish show at the Venice Biennale in 1990 and a Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Show for the Edinburgh Festival in 1987.

As a printmaker, she exhibited regularly in the 1970s and '80s.

She has written catalogue notes, monographs and books on artists such as Alison Watt, Peter Howson, Adrian Wiszniewski and Barbara Rae, among others.

Keith Bruce, The Herald's Arts Editor, said: "Clare Henry was The Herald's critical voice on the visual arts at a time when Glasgow had a wave of talented young artists, including Steven Campbell, Jenny Saville and Stephen Conroy, all of whom she interviewed.

"Her subject was no stranger to smouldering controversy in the city - which she usually did her best to stoke - and the level of interest she helped sustain was undoubtedly partly responsible for Glasgow's reputation as a place for artists to come to study and work."

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