Alumni Services

Bill Hare

Having attended university as a mature student, Bill Hare has since carved out a varied career in the arts involving exhibition curation, teaching and writing on Scottish modern and contemporary art.

Name William (Bill) Hare
Degree Course MA (Hons) History of Art
Year of Graduation


Your time at the University

Bill Hare

As an Edinburgh working class lad in the 1950s I had no academic ambitions at school, so it came as a bit of a surprise to my family and friends - as well as myself - when I finally got to University in 1972. By then I was in my late twenties, but because a Teaching Recruitment Scheme was being offered at that time to older people to go to university to gain a teaching degree, there were many “mature students” like myself at Edinburgh University. This meant that I got to know a good number of interesting people from a range of different backgrounds, some of whom became life-long friends.

My favourite memories are connected with the Edinburgh University Film Society where, being a film fanatic, I quickly became a member of the committee and thus was involved in selecting up to six films a week for the Society’s extensive programme of films from many different countries.

When I was an undergraduate, the History of Art department was relatively small - compared to now - so that you quickly bonded with your fellow art history students. It also meant that you had easy personal access to the lecturers in the department, who made you feel part of an extended family bound together by a love of visual culture.

As an Edinburgh working class lad in the 1950s I had no academic ambitions at school, so it came as a bit of a surprise to my family and friends - as well as myself - when I finally got to University in 1972.

Bill Hare

Tell us about your experiences since leaving the University

After graduating from the University of Edinburgh I went to the Courtauld Institute, University of London, but found, having been an art student before I went to university that their connoisseur approach to art history was not to my taste.

So I returned to Edinburgh and was fortunate to land the position of Exhibition Officer at the University’s Talbot Rice Gallery, working there for over a decade with most of the major Scottish artists. I also took up teaching in the History of Art Department, at Edinburgh College of Art and with the Open University.

At this time I began writing on my own particular speciality - Scottish modern and contemporary art - for a range of publications, and produced a book "Contemporary Painting in Scotland" in 1992.

More recently I have begun curating important thematic exhibitions on Scottish art, such as "Divided Selves - The Scottish Self-Portrait from the 17th Century to the Present" (2007) and "The Scottish Endarkenment" (2016) which was listed in the Guardian’s top ten international exhibitions of that year.

I was appointed Curator of Edinburgh University’s Fine Art Collection (2008-2011) and also Curator of Edinburgh College of Art’s cast collection (2009-2011). I have written for monographs on Barbara Rae and John McLean for Lund Humphries, on Boyle Family for the Scottish National Gallery and have just published a new book "Facing the Nation - The Portraiture of Alexander Moffat" for Luath Press. I am now working on a book of my collected essays and interviews on Scottish post-war art for Luath Press to be published next year.

I am at present an Honorary Fellow in Scottish Art History at the University of Edinburgh, where I am also a Trustee of the Friends of the Visual Arts of Edinburgh University.

Alumni wisdom

Be sure to make the most of your time at university, not only with the study of your subject, but also in meeting as many people as you can - from the student body, the teaching staff and the wider outside community that are connected to your future professional ambitions.

Personal contacts are not only helpful in seeing your area of study within a wider social context, but also can aid you in the pursuit of your career after you leave the protected environment of university and go into the tougher competitive world beyond.               

Related Links

Facing the Nation - The Portraiture of Alexander Moffat (Luath Press)

Talbot Rice Gallery 

Friends of the Visual Arts of Edinburgh University