Edinburgh Art Festival (EAF) presents seven new commissions as part of the 2016 Commissions Programme and work by 250 artists, in more than 40 exhibitions across 30 of Edinburgh’s museums, galleries and artist-run spaces. The UK’s largest annual festival of visual arts combines Scottish and international contemporary art alongside major solo and survey shows of artists from the 20th century and historic movements. The 2016 festival also features performances, guided tours, workshops and talks by artists and curators throughout August.
Edinburgh Art Festival Commissions – More Lasting than Bronze. 28 July-28 August 2016
The title of the full EAF 2016 Commissions Programme is More Lasting than Bronze, referring to Horace’s Ode 3.30, in which the Roman poet boasts that he has ‘built a monument more lasting than bronze’. As communities around the world begin to question the value of monuments to certain individuals (most recently Cecil Rhodes in Oxford), More Lasting than Bronze explores what and how societies choose to publicly commemorate, as well as reflecting on some of those voices or individuals who are not remembered with a monument.
Through film, sound and light, as well as the more familiar monumental form of marble statuary, the seven projects explore issues as varied as gender and age diversity, and highlight people and voices who have been deliberately written out of history. Many of the works have been inspired by the city and architecture of Edinburgh itself, drawing parallels between the contemporary and historical city.
Highlights include seven new commissions across the city:
- Ciara Phillips‘ Dazzle Ship Scotland: Every Woman, painted on the MV Fingal celebrates the role of women and commemorates the camouflaged ships docked at Leith during the First World War. Co-commissioned by Edinburgh Art Festival 2016 and 14-18 NOW.
- A major new work reinterpreting the depiction of the female nude in sculpture by Jonathan Owen, allowing access for festival visitors to the interior of the Burns Monument for the first time in 180 years.
- Pakistani artist Bani Abidi‘s immersive sound installation, using song and poetry to explore the true stories and experiences of Indian soldiers who fought in WW1, uncovering real life voices that have been forgotten, censored and ignored.
- A new neon installation by the internationally-renowned Scottish artist Graham Fagen for the railway underpass by Jacob’s Ladder, drawing on histories that have shaped the city.
- A new iteration of New Zealand-based artist Olivia Webb‘s Voices Project, presenting a ‘live monument’ created to re-energise community spaces in Christchurch affected by the 2011 earthquakes in her native homeland.
- A filmed portrait of the Irish historian Owen Dudley Edwards by Roderick Buchanan, exploring the historian’s lifelong engagement with the work and ideas of James Connolly, born in Edinburgh and executed in Dublin a hundred years ago, for his role in the Easter Rising. The work will be presented in the church in which Connolly was baptised, at the centre of Edinburgh’s ‘Little Ireland’ in the 19th Century.
- Sally Hackett’s reinterpretation of The Fountain of Youth; a reflection on the under representation of younger generations within Edinburgh’s many monuments.
- Four new bodies of work for Platform: 2016 by emerging artists The Brownlee Brothers, Paloma Proudfoot & Aniela Piasecka, Dorian Jose Braun and Jack Saunders.
Over 40 exhibitions across more than 30 spaces, including:
- At Jupiter Artland the first permanent installation in the UK by Christian Boltanski is shown with work by French artist Caroline Mesquita. New work by leading international artists including Damián Ortega at The Fruitmarket Gallery; an exhibition celebrating 30 years of Inverleith House, featuring work including Louise Bourgeois, John McCracken, Joan Mitchell and Robert Ryman; a showcase of over 110 drawings by Joseph Beuys at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, from the ARTIST ROOMS collection, shown together for the first time.
- Important presentations of key figures from the Scottish art scene, including the major solo shows of Barbara Rae at Open Eye Gallery and Jonathan Owen at Ingleby Gallery; an exhibition tracing the careers of William Gillies and John Maxwell at City Art Centre; a multi-layered thematic exhibition at Dovecot Gallery, tracing Scottish art from 1945 to the present; new work by Glasgow-based Hayley Tompkins at Jupiter Artland; sculptor Kenny Hunter to be showcased at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop; and a solo show by Jennifer Bailey at Collective, in addition to a new sculptural viewing tower to look into the City Observatory by Birmingham-based Simon & Tom Bloor.
- The history of self-portraits across six centuries at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, showcasing works by artists from Rembrandt and Gustave Courbet to Marina Abramović and Ai Weiwei; the first solo show in Scotland of Alice Neel at the University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery; self-portraits by the British photographer Jo Spence at Stills; and the international photography award, Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015, at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
- Art historical survey exhibitions including the first international exhibition showcasing the work of Charles-François Daubigny, a key figure in the development of 19th century French landscape painting, and his relationship with Monet and Van Gogh, at the Scottish National Gallery; an exhibition combining Surrealist works of art from four private collections at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; an exhibition of Celtic art at the National Museum of Scotland featuring over 300 objects from across the UK and Europe, assembled in Scotland for the first time; and an exhibition celebrating four centuries of ‘The Art of the Garden’ at The Queen’s Gallery Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Multi-media collaborations, including new work by Canadian duo Donovan & Siegel at Edinburgh Printmakers; and new work commissioned by New Media Scotland‘s Alt-w Fund for locations including The Travelling Gallery and City Art Centre.
The next generation of talent in Scotland and beyond including Siân Robinson Davies at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop; a group presentation from the studios at The Number Shop; the annual degree show at Edinburgh College of Art; and a group exhibition bringing together new work by Tim Dodds, Emma Hart and Susan Mowatt at Rhubaba.
image credits: Jonathan Owen, Untitled, 2016, EAF commission, Burns Monument, July-August 2016, Photo John McKenzie. Courtesy the Artist and Ingleby Gallery
Graham Fagan, EAF commission 2016, photo by Ross Fraser McLean/ Studio RoRo
Alice Neel, Hartley and Ginny, 1970. Courtesy the Estate of Alice Neel
Ciara Phillips. Every Woman, Dazzle Ship Scotland