TWO of Scotland’s leading contemporary artists have expressed new fears over the art gallery at Inverleith House in Edinburgh after its curator was excluded from talks about its future.

Director of exhibitions Paul Nesbitt will not take part in the working group which meets today for the first time to look into the future of the arts programme at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE).

Turner Prize winner Douglas Gordon has questioned how the group which includes several big names from the art world can decide the future strategy of the house without him.

The artist wrote to The Herald: “Having followed the saga of the Inverleith House tragedy (Shakespearian), I was slightly heartened to read that perhaps all is not lost.

“A working group ? Sounds like hard work to me. Good, honest hard work.

“But then I learnt that a key player in this story, Paul Nesbitt, is not a part of the working group. How can the curator be (de)(in)volved from this process?”

He added: “The saga of Inverleith House tragedy Part II (Machiavellian).”

Fellow Scottish visual artist Jim Lambie added: “Paul Nesbitt has worked tirelessly to turn Inverleith House into the internationally acclaimed arts venue it is today.

“His unique vision and courage in curatorial practice, is needed now more than ever.”

Inverleith House’s closure as a full time contemporary art gallery last year led to protests and a 9,000 petition calling for it to stay open and concern at Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government - a furore which led to the establishment of the new working group.

Its members include Fiona Bradley, director of the Fruitmarket Gallery, the artist Jacqueline Donachie, Lisa Le Feuvre, the head of sculpture studies at the Henry Moore Institute, Sir John Leighton the director-general of the National Galleries Scotland, Philip Long, director of the V&A Dundee, Dame Seona Reid, Janet Archer, chief executive of Creative Scotland.

The group is being chaired by Professor Christopher Breward, principal of the Edinburgh College of Art. and also includes Simon Milne, Regius Keeper of the RBGE.

It is understood Mr Nesbitt will be able to have “input”.

Gary Waterston, a director of the Gagosian Gallery, the leading art dealership, also questioned the RBGE’s commitment to a summer exhibition at the house.

It aims to utiliise the history of the Glasshouses and the development and study of the Living Collection of plants as its “starting point” for the project.

Mr Waterston added: “We need to see Inverleith House saved for future generations. of artists and any funded art programme at RBGE must have that at its core. The most disappointing aspect the inclusion of the statement about a summer exhibition... which sounds barely interesting enough to have been in the Gateway building - I cannot imagine it gaining rave reviews in the national press and an international spotlight on the RBGE that previous years of intelligent programming at Inverleith House has given.

“What a waste of a legacy.” most charitable organisations would currently be nurturing.

“It’s become clear to those looking closely that the Management are ignorant of contemporary visual art culture and hopefully they shall therefore defer to those in the working group that are better qualified to guide them and accept what an asset they have in Inverleith House and their past reputation for world class modern, contemporary and botanical visual art.”

Seonaid Daly, director of the Scottish Contemporary Art Network, said: “This is a really strong working group which I have no doubt will advocate strongly for the reinstatement of a contemporary art programme of the highest quality.

“I’m sure the presence of the working group will also shed light on the internal decision making process which has led to this public intervention by the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland.”

The working group will “advise the Trustees of the RBGE on the strategic direction of its future arts programme” the gardens said.

The group will work towards a written report to the RBGE Trustees by the end of June.

RBGE has also committed to plans for a summer exhibition at Inverleith House, “taking the history of the Glasshouses and the development and study of the Living Collection of plants as its starting point.”