Jacqueline Donachie (born 1969 in Glasgow) studied in the Environmental Art Department of Glasgow School of Art from 1987 to 1991. Part of the generation of Glasgow-based artists that includes Christine Borland, Martin Boyce, Roderick Buchanan, Nathan Coley, Douglas Gordon and Ross Sinclair, she was a committee member at Transmission Gallery from 1993 to 1995, before going on to an MFA at Hunter College, New York in 1996.
Donachie has exhibited internationally, with solo exhibitions and commissions at IASPIS, Stockholm (2002); Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester (2004); The Hunterian, Glasgow (2006); and Glasgow Museums GoMA (2016). Her work has been included in major group exhibitions, including Here and Now, Scottish Art 1990–2001 at Dundee Contemporary Arts (2001); Talking Loud and Sayin’ Something at Gothenburg Museum of Art (2008); Glasgow International (2010); Artists and Science, Weizmann Institute of Science, Tel Aviv (2013); Desire Lines, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne (2013); and Generation, 25 years of Scottish Art (2015). She also creates public, site-specific projects and publishes artist books. She lives and works in Glasgow.
Jacqueline Donachie’s art is rooted in an exploration of individual, family and collective identity and the structures, platforms and spaces (both actual and conceptual) through which it is constructed and supported. Her work encompasses sculpture, installations, photographs, films, drawings and performance, and is research-based, collaborative and participatory. Interested in ‘expert cultures’ and how interacting with them can provide material for art, she has made work with members of a wide range of communities including hospital staff and patients, members of a judo club for the visually impaired, dancers from topless bars around Edinburgh, users of public transport, and members of a gospel choir. In recent years, she has focused much of her work in the social and scientific contexts of disease, disability and difference, working with scientists, researchers and individuals whose lives have been affected by specific genetic conditions.
Donachie is one of a number of artists currently working (Jeremy Deller, Phil Collins, Ross Sinclair are others) whose practice depends on direct and convincing engagement with the communities for and with whom it is made. She often sites work in public spaces, and uses means and materials drawn from the everyday urban environment, as for example in Glasgow Slow Down, a mass community cycling event, which resulted in a huge collaborative chalk drawing across the city of Glasgow launching the countdown to the 2015 Commonwealth Games.
In 1999, Donachie’s sister’s second child was diagnosed at birth with myotonic dystrophy, a genetic condition with a distinct pattern (mild, late-onset symptoms in the grandparental generation, more severe symptoms in the parental, profoundly disabling symptoms in the child). Pregnant herself at the time, Donachie discovered that she had been passed the healthy gene, and that she and her subsequent three children were unaffected by the disease, while the rest of her family were variously and progressively disabled by it.
Committed as she is to making art which helps us make sense of who we are and our place in the world, Donachie’s response to the sudden medical revelations within her own family, and the subsequent alteration of her family’s and her own sense of identity, was to use it as a context for art. Collaborating with a range of medical and research professionals and with a number of affected families, she made Tomorrow Belongs to Me, a project culminating in a film, book and exhibition for the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow in 2006; and Deep in the Heart of Your Brain, an exhibition for Glasgow Museums GoMA in 2016, which brings together sculpture, drawings and film informed by the material she has gathered and relationships she has made during the course of her research into myotonic dystrophy.