Everything you need to know about Edinburgh Art Festival

The Fringe and Book Festival may have come and gone, but the Edinburgh Art Festival continues until Sunday (1 Sep), with some exhibitions running even longer.  Milo McLaughlin takes a look at what’s still on offer.

[Peter Liversedge – Flags for Edinburgh]


There’s a chance you’ve already noticed one or two of the Edinburgh Art Festival’s 2013 commissions, possibly without even realising it.

Perhaps you’ve spotted one of Peter Liversidge’s Flags for Edinburgh waving in the wind. The artist invited buildings in the city with a flag pole to fly one of his white flags with the word ‘Hello’ printed on them, intended as “a simple welcome across the rooftops” as well as a comment on the purpose of flags in general.

Ross Sinclair
[Ross Sinclair with some of his billboards – picture: Phil Wilkinson]

Anyone making their way to Edinburgh’s Waverley Station via Calton Road won’t have failed to notice Ross Sinclair’s colourful Real Life and How to Live it in Auld Reekie’ billboards, featuring top tens of Edinburgh culture, including best writers and bands as well as sobering statistics about drug deaths and suicides.

Sinclair explores the theme across a mind-boggling 43,000 different works of art including other signs, postcards, bags and even beer mats in various locations around the city.

The Complaints Choir of Edinburgh perfectly capture the zeitgeist of Scotland’s capital in August with songs about trams, recycling and flyering. Our reviewer described the songs as “heartfelt and musically witty”.

You might also have spotted Robert Montgomery’s Edinburgh Fire Poem on the Mound, which was dramatically set alight on the opening day of the Festival.

Each of these installations were commissioned as part of the Festival’s Parley programme which “invites artists and audiences alike to consider how art (and particularly art beyond the gallery) can be an agent of discussion, debate and social change”.

Did they get you talking?

Top Exhibitions

Here are a few of the other highlights from the Art Festival that you can still catch, with some running beyond the official end of the festival on 1 September. We’ve included star ratings and extracts from the relevant Scotsman reviews where possible.

Peter Liversidge: doppelgänger ★★★★ Ingleby Gallery, until 21 September 2013

As well as his ‘Hello’ flags, Liversidge has an exhibition this year based on Ein Handschuh, a suite of etchings from 1881 by the Austrian Symbolist Max Klinger. The Scotsman described it as “a series of debates about the past and how we might reconstruct it” that is “beautifully presented and articulated”.

Coming into Fashion: A Century of Photography at Condé Nast ★★★ City Art Centre, until 8 Sep

“Think of a fashion moment and you’ll find it in this show: from Cecil Beaton’s arch, aristocratic images of early couture to supermodel Cindy Crawford.”

Witches and Wicked Bodies ★★★★ Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, until 8 Sep

“Professor Deanna Petherbridge’s timely and well-researched exploration of the representation of witches and witchcraft in art. It’s an exhibition that, if you are a woman of even the mildest feminist sensitivities, is a bit like being bludgeoned repeatedly with a severed limb.”

 Mostly West: Franz West and Artist Collaborations ★★★★ Inverleith House, until 22 Sep

“Inverleith House is crammed with works. It starts with a fantastic splat – a pink blob of chewed gum, smeared on glass. It happily goes even more lowbrow from there.”

Fiona Banner: The Vanity Press ★★★★ Summerhall, Edinburgh, until 27 Sep

“Banner is fascinated by language and its limits, and the way words become unstable when they try to encompass sex or violence.”

Man Ray portraits ★★★★ National Gallery,  until 22 Sep

“Man Ray’s photographs are stylish, defining, dark and oft-times erotic. There are the boys dressed as girls, the girls dressed as boys. The lovers like Lee Miller and the model Kiki de Montparnasse are often not dressed at all.”

From Death to Death and Other Small Tales, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, until 8 Sep

“Most of this is rewarding and remarkable, in a show that itself is half public, half private in its ethos of collection and display.” (Scotland on Sunday review).

Michael Nyman: Man With A Movie Camera ★★ Summerhall, until 31 Aug

Less favourably reviewed is Nyman’s first Scottish installation, featuring ten different remakes of the famous Russian film Man with a Movie Camera filmed by Dziga Vertov and edited by his wife Yelizaveta Svilova. “There’s no mistaking the immense labour involved, nor Nyman’s commitment to his task” [but it is]  “in danger of tipping from homage into hubris.”

Other Exhibitions and Events

The following also run until September 1 and beyond. Descriptions are taken from the Edinburgh Art Festival website.

IIana Halperin: The Library, National Museum of Scotland, until 29 Sep

“Contemporary artist Ilana Halperin explores notions of time in The Library, a new exhibition that presents rocks, minerals and geological artefacts in a new and remarkable light.”

Mary, Queen of Scots Exhibition, National Museum of Scotland, until 17 Nov

“Showing only in Edinburgh, Mary, Queen of Scots provides a unique opportunity to re-evaluate much that has been written and speculated about this charismatic monarch.”

Gabriel Orozco: thinking in circles, The Fruitmarket Gallery, until 18 Oct

“Gabriel Orozco (born Jalapa, Veracruz, 1962) is one of the foremost international artists of our age. Rising to prominence in the early 1990s, he has developed a consistently innovative practice, making work which not only captures the imagination but also powerfully engages with key material and conceptual issues of what it is to make art.”

Rachel Maclean: I HEART SCOTLAND, Edinburgh Printmakers, until 7 Sep

“Maclean explores Scotland’s romantic past through the lens of contemporary political debate. Employing a monstrously alluring aesthetic, the work explores a hybrid of styles that reference the rugged romance of Scottish Landscape painting, the all-smiling, futurist visions of political propaganda and the hyper-saturated pop colours of Oor Wullie.”

Lovely Sky (Participatory Imagineering), Rhubaba Gallery & Studios until 1 Sep

“For the duration of the festival, artist Lucy Pawlak will adopt the role of Producer for a narrative feature film. The resulting work will be designed and directed in collaboration with a writing team of imagineers and advisors made up of visitors to the gallery and invited experts.”

Parley Discussion: Tae Think Again, Rethinking Identity in Contemporary Scotland (curated by Rachel Maclean), Edinburgh College of Art, 31 Aug, 2–5pm

“Responding to the upcoming 2014 referendum on Scottish Independence, this symposium curated by artist Rachel Maclean intends to delve deeper than a simple yes/no debate and look at the broader social, cultural and historical background to a discussion of contemporary Scottish national identity. The event will begin with a screening of the artist’s recent work The Lion and the Unicorn. “

Fashion Show: Jane Gowans Vs Hayley Scanlan, City Art Centre, 31 Aug, 2pm

“Jane Gowans is a Scottish contemporary jewellery designer who has recently been named as a finalist in the UK Jewellery Awards and Draper’s Awards. Scottish Young Designer of the Year 2012/13 Hayley Scanlan has impressive celebrity fashion fans including Rihanna and Jessie J. Both designers will discuss their collaboration alongside their individual current collections, which will be for sale at the City Art Centre.”

Artist talk by Rachel Maclean, Edinburgh Printmakers,  1 Sep, 12:30pm

“After a booked out opening for Rachel Maclean’s ‘I HEART SCOTLAND’ exhibition, another chance for anyone who missed out on her initial talk to hear Rachel’s insight into her work.”

Jeremy Deller with Alan KaneJupiter Artland,Wilkieston until 15 Sep

“Jeremy Deller and his long-standing collaborator, Alan Kane will exhibit at Jupiter Artland. The exhibition will include the artists’ Steam Powered Internet Machine and Deller’s series of vast, colourful and evocative banners.”

Sam Durant: Scaffold, Jupiter Artland, Wilkieston until 15 Sep

Scaffold is an arresting, immense and powerful wooden structure by the Los Angeles-based, American artist Sam Durant.  Scaffold will command outstanding views of the Pentland Hills and surrounding area, and visitors are invited to climb upon and explore this vast structure.”

Note: The Art Festival are providing a free shuttlebus to Jupiter Artland from Edinburgh city centre until 1 September.

 MORE INFO: Edinburgh Art Festival

What have you made of this year’s Edinburgh Art Festival so far?

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