Dr Ross Sinclair PhD

Job Title:

Reader in Fine Art


School of Fine Art



Ross Sinclair
Installation, 2007

Ross Sinclair


Dr Ross Sinclair

Dr Ross Sinclair is an artist, writer and musician and is currently Reader in Contemporary Art Practice in the School of Fine Art at The Glasgow School of Art. He is best known for his ‘Real Life’ project initiated when he had the words REAL LIFE tattooed in black ink across his back, at Terry’s Tattoo parlour in Glasgow, 1994. The ‘Real Life Project’ has been disseminated across a range of exhibition and publication contexts, positioned against a critical framework of contested models of audience participation, ‘Everyday Life’ and ‘The Real’ acknowledging the influence of key critical thinkers around the realm of participatory and socially engaged practice.

Drawing on multi-disciplinary methodologies, Sinclair reflects on the forms, materials and processes of contemporary art practice over the two decades of the Real Life Project, where everyday materials are utilised in unorthodox ways developing a series of installations and performances that have sought to challenge conventional modes of exhibition practice. This has built a 20-year’ durational performance project’ that connects with the public at a dynamic intersection of ideas, context, performance and art-practice. These projects have been exhibited extensively in public and private spaces, museums and galleries in the UK, Europe, USA, South Korea, Japan and Australia in almost 50 solo and 150 group exhibitions.

In 2014/15 Sinclair was commissioned to re-create his 1996 performance installation ‘Real Life Rocky Mountain’ at The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh as part of the nationwide ‘Generation: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland’, project. In 2015 he was part of an exhibition of artists from GSA at Simone de Souza Gallery in Detroit and also that year was commissioned by UK Parliament, to contribute to a yearlong project in Westminster Hall, Palace of Westminster. He is currently further exploring the project in Detroit, developing projects in Shanghai and Glasgow and in spring 2016 will be a visiting fellow at St Johns College, Oxford University, where he will undertake a 3 month artist in residence programme.

Sinclair has also published many essays and texts in books, journals and magazines and has written extensively on the generation of Glasgow artists emerging from the 1990’s onwards, recently contributing an essay on (2010 Turner Prize winner), Susan Phillipsz: Socialism in Her Heart, to the Artangel/Konig monograph ‘Ten Works (The Work)’, 2014 and Sinclair also had 2 essays featured in the recent ‘Generation Reader’ 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland (National Galleries) published to mark this important exhibition in 2014.

His PhD supervision and examination encompass broad areas of practice led research including the ongoing role of the curatorial, the exhibition and art object, contemporary panting and the Altermoderm and the Dialectogram as a social practice.

A Parallel aspect of Sinclair’s art practice is reflected in a significant number of works and texts he has made over the past 20 years that implicitly or explicitly have addressed Scottish cultural identity, discussing the complexity of these influencing factors and how they can be understood and interrogated in contemporaneous, dynamic ways, in public, appealing to a diverse cross-section of audience. An example of this work was seen in 2015/16 at GOMA Glasgow where his large scale neon installation, ‘We Love Real Life Scotland’ was displayed on the 18th Century portico of the Gallery of Modern Art building on Queen St as part of the exhibition, ‘Devils in the Making, GSA and the Collection’.

From a starting point in the 1980’s as a founding member of one of Glasgow’s most popular indie bands, The Soup Dragons, Sinclair has always utilised music throughout his practice and in 2015 released a gatefold vinyl album documenting a 3 year project with Collective (Edinburgh) 20 Years of Real Life: Free Instruments for Teenagers where he worked with young people developing, recording and releasing music made on instruments given away for free during his exhibition. This ‘vinyl publication’ was launched in Dec. 2015 at a live music event at the City Dome on Calton Hill. He has previously released records, ‘Real Life Parledonia’, Edinburgh Art Festival, 2013, and cd’s, ‘I tried to Give Up Drinking With Guitars instead of God’, The Duchy 2013, and ‘The Real Life Rock Opera’, The Travelling Gallery, 2004,

Sinclair makes regular contributions to radio and television programmes on art and music in Scotland and can be seen interviewed here:

Ross Sinclair RADAR

Susan Philipsz 'Lowlands'

Susan Philipsz 'Lowlands' Arrhenius, Sara, Brown, Katrin...

02/05/19 11:09

Real Life Top 10

Real Life Top 10 Sinclair, Ross (2017) Real Life Top 1...

09/04/18 9:32

School of Fine Art on RADAR

School of Fine Art on RADAR |

Research outputs from the School of Fine Art