Big Fun At The Edinburgh Art Festival

There's a lot to choose from in the EAF programme – here are Art editor Andrew Cattanach's tips of what's unmissable

Feature by Andrew Cattanach | 01 Aug 2011
  • The Plague of Frogs by David Mach

It’s long been considered that fun is what other nationalities get up to. It’s what Continental Europeans do when they’re not too busy making love. When they’re not carnally aligning themselves with others, they’re out having a dance – maybe even having a healthy, grownup sip of booze along with a prudent snack that involves neither chips nor cheese.

Us Scotch have really picked up our game, though. So much so we’ve declared August our national fun month, with all the year’s fun taking place during those 31 days and strictly within Edinburgh’s city limits. Here is an outline of some of the art-flavoured fun you might want to catch while getting your annual fix.

At Stills Gallery, Glasgow-based video artist Stephen Sutcliffe is showing work from the last 10 years, much of which has never been seen in Scotland. Using his personal archive of VHS footage he’s been taping off the telly since he was a kid, Sutcliffe makes witty yet haunting collages that explore self doubt.

Conceptual art collective Peles Empire sound overwhelmingly clever, and for this reason alone should be sampled. As part of an ongoing project where the artists recreate the rooms of a Romanian castle in different locations, the collective will be recreating rooms from a Romanian castle at Sierra Metro.

The YBA that never was, David Mach has a major exhibition at City Art Centre where he is showing work about some old book they call the Bible. Best known for making sculptures out of things that sculptures are not normally made out of, Mach here exhibits a Jesus sculpted from coat hangers.

Inverleith House has a generous double bill that includes the massively influential Robert Rauschenberg, who once exhibited a taxidermy goat with a tyre round its middle, and British sculptor Thomas Hauseago, whose monumental bronze sculptures will be on show outdoors.

Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto’s exhibition at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is an exclusive presentation of 26 works from his two latest series, Lightening Fields and Photogenic Drawings. This is black and white photography at its very best.

If you thought artist Elizabeth Blackadder was for fuddy-duddy aunts only, then you’re wrong. With the rigour and focus of a scientist, Blackadder has been drawing, painting and printing the same subject matter (namely flowers and cats) for longer than you’ve been breathing. Unlike most art we see these days, hers is not about self reflection or what it means to be human or how messed up our institutions are, it’s about the things around us and their glaringly overwhelming beauty. See her retrospective in the National Galleries Complex on the Mound. 

Edinburgh Art Festival 2011, 4 Aug - 4 Sep, various venues