TWO Glasgow-based artists are at the centre of the world’s biggest art festival, which launches in Italy this week.

Charlotte Prodger’s artwork is at the official Scotland+Venice show, while Cathy Wilkes is the artist who has revealed her exhibition at the official UK Pavilion.

More than 90 countries have art shows in the Italian city, with, for the first time, two female Scottish artists in key shows, with Prodger’s show given extra prominence due to her recent success in the Turner Prize.

Wilkes’s show takes place in the UK Pavilion which is at the heart of the festival’s Giardini gardens, next to France and Germany.

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Last night Prodger, who grew up in Aberdeenshire, said she was especially happy that her film, SaF05, is to be shown across Scotland this year as it is displayed at the Venice Biennale.

The UK premiere will screen at the Tower Digital Arts Centre in Helensburgh, on June 27, and will then tour six cinemas and art centres across Scotland’s west coast, Highlands and islands, ending in Aberdeen.

The National: The work by Cathy WilkesThe work by Cathy Wilkes

The Turner Prize-winning artist, who makes films exploring the idea of the “queer wilderness”, with film footage from a variety of sources overlayed with personal and sometimes candid autobiographical stories, said: “It’s really great.

“This is the first time I’ve been to the Biennale – I couldn’t afford to come to Venice before, when I was first out of the MFA [at Glasgow School of Art]. It is very expensive for a lot of people to come here and see the work.

“For us, when we were thinking about how to do this project, we were thinking about how a lot of art centres on cities and institutions in cities.

“But my work isn’t really about cities.

“Perhaps it’s nice to think slightly outside of that, and we were thinking about a way of doing that, moving image, and cinema, and rural areas.”

Lindsay Young, the curator of the show, said: “For me it’s quite political, because it is about democratising how people can access contemporary art.

“Me and Charlotte talked a lot about this, we grew up in similar sorts of [rural] communities ... think there is something extraordinary about being able to say to someone in Orkney: you will be able to watch this film, and hear its content, hear its voices and maybe find something you can connect to, that you don’t in your community.”

The film, made in conjunction with the Cove Park artist residency, has several specific references to Scotland: a night out clubbing and sexual encounters in Glasgow, early religious experiences, student flats in Paisley, her childhood in Aberdeenshire – but Prodger said she had not deliberately added these references for the Venice show because of its “national” status.

Prodger said: “It’s the way it worked out – I didn’t want to make a ‘Scottishy’ work for the Scottish pavilion.

“Because I so much draw upon a certain period in my life, and this work goes back much further than any period of my life than my work before, it starts when I was about 10.

“Because I draw upon that time, it is by default Scottish, because that is where I grew up, and where I live now.

“My work is autobiographical and about friendships and intimacies, by default it takes place in Scotland.”

On being in the official Scotland show, she said: “If you start to let in the idea of representing a country in a place where all these countries are, it’s a bit terrifying.

“You just keep on making work in the way you want to make it – don’t make it especially for the event. That is what friends who have done Venice before have said, and that is very good advice.

“And although I am very excited to be representing Scotland, of course, I think it’s a bit of an epic concept to internalise.”

Reflecting on winning the Turner Prize, she said: “I think I’m still digesting it actually. We have been working extremely intensively on this show, we have been working very hard on it before the Turner Prize, so in a way I think I am digesting the two things that were happening at the same time.

“It was amazing, and very lovely.”