Ross Sinclair


Ross Sinclair is an artist and musician and writer who also sometimes teaches.

Sinclair was born in Glasgow in 1966 and was educated with an interesting group of artists at The Glasgow School of Art in the Department of Environmental Art, and later for a while at California Institute of the Arts. He took some time off from art school to play music with The Soup Dragons (85-90) but went back to art school when he realised he was enjoying making the record covers and posters and t-shirts much more than the direction in which the band’s music was going. Since the had the words Real Life tattoed on his back in 1994 he has shown in hundreds of solo and group exhibitions in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia, Japan, Korea and beyond such as Real Life and How to Live it in Auld Reekie, Edinburgh Art Festival 2013, Sinclair vs. Landseer, Aberdeen Art Gallery, 2007, Selected Real Life, Badischer Kunstverein, Karsruhe, Germany 2002 and Fortress Real Life, South London Gallery, London, England 2001. He was recently commissioned by National Galleries of Scotland to remake Real Life Rocky Mountain (1996/2014) for Generation, 25 Years of Art in Scotland at SNGMA in Edinburgh and currently is working on the second part of a solo show, 20 years of Real Life – Free Musical Instruments for Teenagers at The Collective Gallery, where he will be giving musical equipment away to teenagers and helping them develop bands to be recorded and showcased later in 2015. He is currently developing an exhibition for Himalayas Museum in Shanghai in 2016.

Sinclair has won various  prizes over the years, last year Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Artist of the Year Award, a Creative Scotland Award, 2007, The Baloise, Statements prize at the Basel Art fair in 2001, Arendt Oetker Atelier Stipendium, Galerie fur Zeitgenossische Kunst, Leipzig, 1999 and he was the grateful recipient of a Paul Hamlyn award 98-2000 which helped a lot at the time. Since 1995 he has been a Lecturer and Research Fellow at Glasgow School of Art where he has recently become a Reader in Contemporary Art.

In 1994 he had the tattoo, Real Life, inked on his back by Stuart Wrigley at Terry’s Tattoo in Glasgow. Since then Sinclair’s work has taken the form of an extended celebration and commiseration of the paradigm of The Real - from under his skin outwards, and always in relation to a particular context and audience. He has described the ‘Real Life’ image existing like a character a writer would develop in a series of books, using different ideas and different settings, while this ‘everyman’ character remains essentially the same through all the changes in time and context, a world weary sleuth trying to get to the bottom of each complex story. These Real Life projects, have sought to re-imagine the particulars of our society through an ongoing investigation of the many institutions and constructs social / political / economic / cultural / geographic/ historic to which we all are inextricably linked as individuals, and collectively.  As a whole this body of work has discussed the manner in which we function as countless individuals within our different communities, sometimes linked together in varioussocieties, and sometimes alone, as part of a global village. Over the last 20 years, an important thread of his work has sought to address the very particular nature of the individual, collective and national identities of the small damp Northern-European nation sometimes known as Scotland.