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‘The Ring Net’ is a substantial collection of drawings, collages, photographs, boat models and plans made and collated by artist Will Maclean in the mid-1970s. It focuses on ring-netting, a distinctive method of sea fishing for herring practised on the west coast of Scotland from the early nineteenth century to the late twentieth century. Numbering over 350 items, this ambitious art project was first exhibited in 1978 at the Third Eye Centre in Glasgow. It subsequently toured to Edinburgh, Leeds, Campbeltown, Tarbert and Inverness and was later acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland. ‘The Ring Net’ holds an important place in the history of Scottish art of the 1970s. It is also key to understanding the artistic development of Will Maclean. Prior to this exhibition at the City Art Centre, there have been few opportunities to see this compelling collection. This talk introduces this rich and fascinating project which deserves to be much better known.

Tricia Allerston is Deputy Director and Chief Curator of European and Scottish Art at the National Galleries of Scotland. She is currently co-directing a major capital project to create a new suite of galleries for historic Scottish art at the Scottish National Gallery. Tricia researched ‘The Ring Net’ in 1989-90, as part of a postgraduate degree in Gallery Studies at the University of St Andrews.


This dissertation has been digitised and can be accessed at:

The Ring Net’ (1973-1978) by Will Maclean