State of the Art Nation: Edinburgh's Got Talent

Feature by Adeline Amar | 01 Jan 2010
  • Merlin Versus Santa Claus

To get your art noticed, sometimes you have to showcase it yourself instead of taking the traditional route. Artist-run spaces across the country have been proving this for several years now (as has, cough, The Skinny), but lately young artists in Edinburgh have been more enthusiastic than ever regarding this approach.

In late September, the Grassmarket and West Port hosted the 2nd Annual Art Walk, where local businesses featured artwork by students and alumni of ECA in their window shops. In time for the festive season, the Edinburgh Sparkles campaign commissioned four ECA students to create alternative Christmas decorations for the city. This is how a seven-foot high sculptural Christmas cake, baked and decorated by Connie Vinney, ended up at Jenners (worth noting that slices are served daily until 20 Dec), or Matthew Swan’s Santa (made partly from recycled material) found its place outside the Go Reborn shop in Princes Mall.

Another example of proactive young artists, Go Reborn was originally set up as a temporary “pop up guerrilla collective” during the Festival, to exhibit art, design, nu-media and crafts from various artists and designers. Thanks to its summer success, Go Reborn is this time back in Princes Mall and offers art and design products from local talents.

Other recent initiatives are aimed at providing artists with a forum for debate and exchange of ideas. As part of her Art Theory Masters, Rocca Gutteridge is behind the Artachat project of regular sessions at the Word of Mouth Café in Leith, where artists are invited to speak about a topic and engage with their audience; the events are recorded and available as podcasts on the Artachat website.

Sandy Christie is the editor, producer and publisher of Paper X, a magazine inviting submissions from local and international artists and writers. Currently on its second issue, Paper X represents over 80 artists. Never short of ideas, Christie also started the BUY MORE ART campaign that encourages artists and audiences to invest in “grass root art” to support new artists.

Interestingly enough, this “DIY ethos” seems to now be expanding into more established institutions. The Collective Gallery recently hosted an Artists DIY Soapbox, where artists were given ten minutes to promote their project, while over the summer Rough Cut Nation at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery featured mainly Edinburgh and Dundee-based artists (yes we know we keep talking about it – and no, we don’t have any shares in it, but thanks for asking). 

Finally, do not miss Hidden Doors in the New Year, a two-day mini-festival of artists, bands, filmmakers and poets at the Roxy Art House. It promises to make various artists cross audio-visual paths, whether established ones like Katie Downie RSA or the up and coming likes of Euan Taylor aka Inefficient Solutions.