This Week in Scottish Art: 26 July - 1 August

This week Edinburgh Art Festival officially begins, and it's packed with talks, performance and previews.

Article by Adam Benmakhlouf | 26 Jul 2016
  • Christian-Bolantski, Animitas, 2014, Talabre, Atacama, Chile, 2014, © Christian Boltanski

Thu 28 Jul: Edinburgh Art Festival openings, part 1

Starting the evening in Stills, it's the preview of the distinctly political and social practice of late photographer Jo Spence from 5.30-7.30pm. She's often known for her commitment to Photo Therapy, using the medium "in order to work through a number of personal histories relating to issues of sexuality, family and class",  and her workshops in which she put into practice "her belief in photography’s ability to empower those that use and experience it."

From 6pm in Edinburgh Printmakers, artist duo Donovan & Siegel discuss their Edinburgh Art Festival exhibition, as well as their practice and how they consider their themes of language, storytelling and contemporary and historical modes of textual reprodution. Then from 7pm, they unveil their latest body of work, including a seemingly self-printing book and a "poetry generation machine" modelled on a Rubik's cube.

Dovecot also host a special EAF private view for the Scottish Endarkenment exhibition from 6-8pm. We talked to curator Bill Hare in May about his gloomier take on Scottish contemporary art, taking a unique national interest in the moodier and darker sides of life. Free tickets for the private view can be found here.

Next stop on the EAF art crawl, Talbot Rice will open their exhibition of late portrait painter Alice Neel's strange and intensely personal work. One of the best known American painters of the 20th century, her exhibition is partnered with the solo presentation by contemporary New York-based artist, Jess Johnson. Titled Eclectrc Panoptic, science fiction is Johnson's main reference point, explored through drawing and virtual reality.

Fri 29 Jul: EAF openings part 2 & new work in Glasgow

First up, from 12.30-1.30pm, artists Bani Abdi and Graham Fagen talk about their respective EAF commissions. Abdi will discuss her commission Memorial for Lost Words, an anti-monumental sound installation of Pakistani folksongs pleading not to go to war, and decrying its absurdity.

Fagen will be discussing his site-specific neon installation A Drama in Time. Installed under the rail bridge where New Street meets Calton Road, it makes a number of references to its environment, from thinking about idealistic social planning to its sea views where Robert Burns booked a passage to Jamaica to take a job as an overseer of slaves. Free, but ticketed; snap up your tickets here. Also on Saturday lunchtime, the curator of Stills leads a tour of the Jo Spence exhibition from 1pm, giving his insight into the work.

Donovan & Siegel are back from 1-3pm, talking about their other Edinburgh Printmakers commission, The Rust Garden. The new artwork is part of Edinburgh Printmakers' building project at the Castle Mill works and promises "monumentalize the heritage of Castle Mill Works and Fountainbridge’s industrial past."

From 6-9pm, The Number Shop present the first part of their showcase of the emerging talent that are resident in their studios. First up it's the former Skinny Showcase artist Fiona Beveridge with her bright mix of readymade and assemblage. She'll be joined by environmental artist Natalie Doyle.

In Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop from 6-10pm, there's Reproductive! by Kenny Hunter. It's the first major solo show of the well-known public sculptor and he'll be further enquiring into the place of the monumental using both traditional and emerging digital sculptural processes.

A little bit across town from 7-9.30pm, there's Still Life with Flying Objects in Rhubaba. It's a diverse group show, with artists that variously make films, build, paint and weave. Also from 7pm is the launch of Method (in the Madness) at the Patriothall Gallery. Curated by Glasgow-based collective Visual Artist Unit, they've assembled six artists that "abandon traditional means of making art and concentrate their practice on method, process and material." 

 If you don't happen to be in Edinburgh, don't worry. There's an opening in Glasgow's Mount Florida Studios, from 6pm, of new show How It is and How it should be. The show will feature artists that work with painting, printmaking and sculpture "to draw on history to question our current state of being."

Then a little later, still in Glasgow, from 7-11pm there's the Spite House All Ages gig in Transmission. It's £5 a ticket, bring your own drink, with four bands programmed for a DIY night.

Sat 30 Jul: Jupiter Artland, Dovecot & Transmission's Summer Party

On Saturday morning from 11am, there's a curator's talk at Talbot Rice about the gallery's Alice Neel exhibition for Edinburgh Art Festival. Pat Fisher is joined by the director of the Alice Neel estate, Jeremy Lewison. Free, ticketed; get your tickets here.

Jupiter Artland presents its new permanent comissions and its latest exhibitions, with new works from Glasgow-based painter and installation artist Hayley Tompkins, as well as international artists Christian Boltanski and Caroline Mesquita. 

As part of the Scottish Endarkenment events, exhibiting artist Shona Macnaughton presents The Universal Schoolgirl. In this performance, she "incorporates images sourced from the internet tagged as #schoolgirl and investigates our sometimes uncomfortable relationship with this social archetype." Book free tickets here.

Over in Glasgow, Transmission keep up the fun this weekend with their annual Summer Party in the Poloc Cricket Club, with special DJs and "cheap booze in a sweet bar".

Sun 31 Jul: The Glue Factory

In Glasgow from 6-8pm, there's Bartholomew's Waltz in The Glue Factory. The collective are looking to alleviate some of the widespread political and social bad vibes through "a celebration of community at The Glue Factory, using collaboratively conceived visual art and music as tools to learn how past community traditions can help form a better future based on unity, diversity and hope."

Mon 1 Aug: Death Watch at Filmhouse

The Scottish Endarkenment Filmhouse screening series continues with Death Watch. It's an underrated cult slice of dystopian sci-fi, and shot almost entirely in a reimagined Glasgow. Curator Bill Hare will introduced the film along with an invited University of Edinburgh speaker. Tickets are available from Filmhouse at normal prices.