GUGA: Exploring Gaelic Identities The Hunterian

the hunterian

Hunterian Exhibition Explores Gaelic Identities

11 October 2019 – 2 February 2020

Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, 82 Hillhead Street, Glasgow G12 8QQ

Admission free

A new exhibition opening at The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, in October will consider what Gaelic identity means in 21st century Scotland.

Scheduled to coincide with the 2019 Royal National Mòd and the UNESCO ‘International Year of Indigenous Languages’, GUGA: Exploring Gaelic Identities presents objects, books and manuscripts associated with Gaelic language and culture from the collections of The Hunterian and University of Glasgow Archives and Special Collections.

celtic mmod hunterian

Gaelic was once spoken throughout almost the whole of Scotland but today is only sustained as a community language in parts of the Western Isles. However, a large portion of current Gaelic speakers live outside the Gàidhealtachd (the Gaelic-speaking Highlands and Islands) with nearly 10,000 in Glasgow. Many are migrants or the descendants of migrants from traditionally Gaelic-speaking areas, but a rapidly growing number are new speakers.

Spanning four rooms in the Hunterian Art Gallery, GUGA examines longstanding representations of the ‘indigenous’ culture of the Gàidhealtachd, and questions what Gaelic identity means today – to the native speaker, the new speaker, or the non-speaker.

The exhibition features both Gaelic and English texts and uses historical objects to investigate how living languages and the societies in which they are spoken, written and read, reflect both the past and the present. Must see items include one of the oldest known Highland ‘Targes’, a Neolithic skeleton from Tiree and some of the earliest Gaelic printed books.

gaelic skeleton hunterian

It also features slideshow of images by award winning photographer Laetitia Vancon from her project At the end of the day, a photo documentary of young people living in the Outer Hebrides.

Hunterian Deputy Director and exhibition curator Mungo Campbell said:

“The Hunterian and the University of Glasgow are mindful of our presence in a city that is home to one of the largest concentrations of Gaelic speakers in the world, including an increasing number of new Gaelic speakers. The Hunterian’s collections reflect the strong historic connections between the University, the people of the Gàidhealtachd and its culture. This exhibition presents a unique opportunity for visitors to consider how historic perceptions of this culture have been formed and sustained, and to ask what this culture, and its language, means in contemporary Scotland.”

GUGA aims to encourage questions from visitors about how Gaelic culture is viewed in 21st century Scotland and they will have the opportunity to offer their own reflections within the exhibition itself.

GUGA: Exploring Gaelic Identities is at the Hunterian Art Gallery from 11 October 2019 until 2 February 2020. Admission is free.

A related seminar titled The Future of Gaelic in a Global and Digital Age has been organised by the University of Glasgow in collaboration with Mòd Ghlaschu 2019. It will take place on 10 October at Kelvin Hall. Booking via Eventbrite.

Hunterian Art Gallery
University of Glasgow
82 Hillhead Street
Glasgow G12 8QQ

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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