In 1991, the Society of Scottish Artists (SSA) marked its centenary year by publishing a book which told its story. As the redoubtable Cordelia Oliver, former art critic of The Glasgow Herald, as it was then called, wrote in an introductory essay, the original object of the Society as laid out in 1891, was "… to foster a taste for Art by instituting an Annual Exhibition of different Schools and to facilitate the intercourse of those connected with, and interested in Art."

By and large, this is what has happened in the intervening 130 years. Led by artists and championed by lay members and the public, since the first exhibition took place in 1892, 122 editions of the SSA's "Annual" have taken place.

It has always had youth on its side and in mind, championing the work of younger artists coupled with opening the viewing public's eyes to changing mores and movements in art.

In 1931 the Society became the first organisation in the UK to exhibit the work of Edvard Munch (of The Scream fame), with one horrified critic writing: "If this is Modern Art, then God help us … It is my last visit to the SSA." Undeterred, the Society proceeded to invite artists such as Paul Klee Picasso, Matisse and Dali to exhibit.

Now, 130 years on from its formation, that self-same organisation is still forging ahead by hosting its 123rd edition, running from November 1 until the end of the month at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. This latest annual exhibition will showcase work from around 150 artists and designers – from painting, sculpture and printmaking to installation, photography and moving image.

For a snapshot of where art is at, this is the place to go. As well as showcasing work being made by the Society's members and other selected artists, graduates from art schools around Scotland will be displaying their talents.

In addition, to mark the centenary of the birth of Glasgow-born polymath, George Wyllie, the exhibition will feature a selection of works on loan from the artist's family, reflecting his time as SSA president from 1986-89.

These years were among the most productive of a late-flowering career, which saw the former Customs and Excise officer create the two major public art works for which he is best remembered; The Straw Locomotive (1987) and The Paper Boat (1989).

By then in his late sixties, Wyllie had the energy of a man half his age. Not only did he streamline and modernise the SSA, he was at the same time constantly writing, acting, making and creating his own work.

Fittingly, given Wyllie's obsession with harnessing equilibrium in our planet and reflecting this in his art, the work on show holds a mirror up to climate change from Edinburgh across to Glasgow to where COP26 is taking place in the first two weeks of November in the city of Wyllie's birth.

From the mid-1980s, Wyllie – a trained engineer – started to make and set up his Spires; tripod-like structures with a central balancing rod and a stone counterbalance. Much to the bewilderment of customs officers at airports, he'd often put a smaller portable version through with his luggage when travelling abroad.

In 1988, in recognition of the connection between Glasgow and Berlin as European cities of culture, Wyllie was commissioned to produce the Glasgow Berlin Spire to be placed at the Reichstag.

He also created The Berlin Burd and placed it so that it keeked over the Berlin Wall in Reinickendorf. A few weeks later, the wall came tumbling down, but Wyllie's original Berlin Burd still stands at Wilhelmsruherdamm in the Wittenau district of Berlin.

On show at this year’s SSA Annual will be a portable version of his spire alongside other artworks and Berlin/spire-related materials from the family archive.

In the SSA's centenary book in 1991, Wyllie wrote what amounted to a love letter to the Society: "I love the SSA and detest any meddling with it," he exclaimed. "Reflecting as it does, the aspirations of younger and progressive artists, the Society is charged with a clarity of energy which stems from the very nature of Scotland. For me, it has always been like that – the strength of stringent selection, a clean justifiable toughness, enthusiasm, responsibility almost to the point of being a fault – but only almost."

This year's "stringent selection" is as fresh as ever. Works are as varied and diverse as clay death tokens reflecting the University of Edinburgh collection of over 1500 human skulls, vibrant symbolic tapestries inspired by the mental challenges of lockdown, stitched "stimming" hand sculptures and a modern Madonna and child coated in silver leaf.

As well as emerging talents, the exhibition will feature the work of more established artists including; Mary Morrison, Charlotte Roseberry, Rachel Duckhouse and Louise Barrington.

Duckhouse's North Uist Sketchbook i is a series of etching studies of seawater flowing over rocks placed in a shallow bay in Lochmaddy, North Uist, following her time in residence at Taigh Chearsabhagh on North Uist supported by RSA Residences for Scotland.

As part of the Society’s continuing commitment to supporting emerging artists, the SSA has invited a number of graduating students from the five main Scottish art schools to exhibit. This year’s exhibition is a showcase of the work of 20 graduates of Scotland’s art schools selected from the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021, providing an important opportunity for those who haven’t been able to share their work in person as a result of the pandemic.

In keeping with the SSA's original aims, there is room for those in the early stages of their career. Kiara Mackenzie is a student at Moray School of Art in Elgin. Her Stimming Hands installation of fabric hands, each sewn in a different position, is an investigation of the movement of the artist’s hands from when they engage in the act of self-stimulatory behaviours, otherwise known as "stimming".

The Society also continues its relationship with moving image collective, CutLog, who will showcase film and video work of 20 artists from across Scotland.

Selling work has always been a key ingredient of an SSA Annual and visitors will be able to works from the show. The wider membership of the Society has an opportunity to feature in the exhibition by providing artworks for the 30 x 30 collection. This series of smaller artworks measuring a maximum of 30 x 30 cm comprises painting, photography and printmaking will be available at accessible prices.

According to Jamie McAteer, joint president of the Society, selling work is a hugely important part of what the SSA does. McAteer started his own collection of contemporary art by buying small works at the annual by the likes of Christine Sloman, David Faithfull and Rowan Paton

"Selling work is a very important part of what we do," he says. "It's a good way of seeing what is current and checking out artistic talent across Scotland. Everything under in the collection is under £350. It's a very effective, not to mention cost-effective way, to build an art collection. I even bought a small collage piece for £25 last year when we held our first digital annual exhibition.

"The last 18 months have been a challenging time for everyone including our members, but we are proud to have continued to grow our membership over this period.

“Last year we had to move to a fully digital programme of exhibitions, which ran alongside a professional development programme for members, so it's overwhelming to bring our members back into the RSA building and to allow the public see the details and textures of their works in person once again.”

Scottish Society of Artists Annual Exhibition, Upper Galleries, Royal Scottish Academy, The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL,, Monday to Saturday, 10am–5pm; Sun 12pm–5pm, £4/£3 concessions. Free on Mondays. Opens Monday November 1 and runs until November 27.

Critic's Choice

Stories have linked us all since time immemorial but in the last 20 months or so, they have become a lifeline for many of us. Just think of the conversations you've had with friends and relatives about what box set series you are watching or what books you have read during the pandemic.

How do the stories we tell each other emerge though? How does a story reveal its forms? These were the questions which three Edinburgh-based artists – all friends – asked themselves as they supported each other throughout the pandemic by partaking in regular online discussions and, when possible, actual meet-ups.

To consolidate their thoughts and make new work around them, all three artists also took part in a residency at the MERZ Gallery in Sanquhar earlier this year.

Now, inspired by conversations and work done during their respective residencies, the artists are presenting an installation of new work at Patriothall Gallery in Stockbridge, Edinburgh.

The exhibition, which opened last nights consists of painting, drawing, printmaking and video and consider how artists create the ingredients which make a visual narrative.

Visual ideas of inside/outside, light/shadow, abstraction/figuration bring together ancient stories with modern ones, observations from nature with "dark imaginings".

This short exhibition, which runs until next Sunday, is bookended by three events; an artists' talk, followed by a private view tonight (Saturday Oct 23) and a gallery tour next Sunday afternoon (Sunday October 31). See links below for details.

Story Forms: Olivia Irvine, Linda Kosciewicz and Michele Marcoux, Patriothall Gallery, Edinburgh, Patriothall, Stockbridge, Edinburgh EH3 5AY, Open today and tomorrow from 11am-5pm and from Thursday October 28 until Sunday 31 October; 11am- 5pm. Artist Talk Saturday 23rd October 5-6pm: Private View Saturday 23rd October 6-8pm: Gallery Tour Sunday 31st October 2-3pm:

Don't Miss

Rachel Mimiec is one of a group of artists whose work features in East Dunbartonshire's Trails and Tales scheme. Mimiec's ceramic way markers are seen by thousands every year on the West Highland Way path leading up to Mugdock Country Park. In this new show, she moves this project on, bringing the landscape back to the studio. As well as ceramic installations, expect small paintings on magazine pages and digitally printed textiles.

SCAPE, Rachel Mimiec, Stallanbrand, 80 Nicholson St, Glasgow G5 9ER, 0141 258 5015, instagram @rachel.mimiec, until October 29. Monday - Friday, 10am–5pm, Saturday & Sunday, 12.30-4pm.