The Art Fund gives Glasgow £22,500 to buy painting by Scottish artist

  • 5 August 2008

A large abstract oil painting of moving fabric, titled Phantom by eminent Scottish artist Alison Watt OBE, has been acquired by Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) with significant help from The Art Fund, the UK's leading independent art charity.

The Art Fund, which is funded entirely by its 80,000 members and public donations, gave GoMA £22,500 towards the cost of the painting – half of the total cost of the work at £45,000. Phantom will go on show in November in GoMA’s Contemporary Collection Exhibition.

Born in Greenock in 1965 and a Glasgow School of Art graduate, Watt recently completed a two-year residency at The National Gallery in London. There she drew inspiration from old masters, in particular, Francisco de Zurbarán’s Saint Francis in Meditation and completed a series of works, of which Watt believes the 2.1m by 3.3m Phantom is her best.

Fascinated by fabric in paintings, Watt’s work – initially figurative – became more abstract in the late 1990s. She excluded figures and focused on the suggestive and sculptural nature of fabric. Watt studied how Zurbarán – who she regards as a master painter of fabric – conveys Saint Francis’s faith through the heavy folds of his hooded habit.

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said: “Phantom is a work both sensual and dynamic that documents Alison Watt’s time as the youngest ever artist-in-residence at the National Gallery. I am delighted that The Art Fund was able to give GoMA the funds it needed to acquire Phantom, which will now join its collection of work by leading Scottish artists.”

As well as The Art Fund contribution, the work was acquired with a grant of £11,250 from the National Museums Scotland’s National Fund for Acquisitions and a further £11,250 from Glasgow City Council.

Councillor Archie Graham, the Executive Member for Culture and Sport at Glasgow City Council, said: “This is an outstanding work, which reflects our ambition to build on the city’s reputation as the home of the very best in modern art outside London.

“We are extremely grateful to The Art Fund – and National Museums Scotland – for their contribution, allowing us to purchase this significant work for the people of Glasgow.”


Notes to editors

The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art.

It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections.

Recent achievements include: helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; putting together a unique funding package to ensure Dumfries House in Ayrshire and its contents were secured intact for the nation in July 2007; and running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke’ public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner’s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK.

For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit

For more information on GoMA, contact the Press Office at Culture and Sport Glasgow on 0141 287 5970.

An image of the work is available for publication and interview opportunities with GoMA’s curatorial team. Please contact Culture and Sport Glasgow as above.

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