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Leading art gallery forced to have change of heart over using unpaid labour

ONE of Scotland's leading contemporary art galleries has been forced to make a U-turn on hiring unpaid assistants after a row broke out on its Facebook page.

The Fruitmarket Gallery of Edinburgh on Monday had advertised an "exciting, one-off opportunity" to install Jim Lambie's art work Zobop for its forthcoming show.

The advert asked for up to eight people to commit to working a minimum of six days each over a 12-day installation period on the work, which is a floor-based vinyl art work. The volunteers, who were to work alongside the gallery's staff, were offered lunch, an exhibition catalogue and an invite to the show's private view show "as a thank you".

Angry reaction on ­Facebook and Twitter to the unpaid work at the gallery appeared quickly from artists and others in the cultural community.

Steven Cox, an artist, said: "As much as I like Lambie's work, I believe free/unpaid work is pretty terrible during a time of creative/economic hardship. Fruitmarket receives huge funding though doesn't offer to truly support those to install this exhibition by paying?"

The Fruitmarket is supported by Creative ­Scotland, receiving £666,600 for 2014/15. Last night it announced it had changed its plans and would use paid installers.

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