Locally-spirited arts festival LeithLate returns with a lively programme of visual art, theatre and music, along with a few new venues and a Public Poetry Trail
LeithLate, one of the most vibrant events in Scotland’s cultural calendar, returns next month with another packed programme celebrating Leith's creative spirit. One of LeithLate’s most pleasing aspects is its eclectic programming and multi-arts outlook, finding room for theatre, poetry and spoken word in among its lively visual arts and music events. “We’re mixing these audiences up and putting people in places they haven’t been in before,” the festival’s producer, Morvern Cunningham, told us last year.
As well as returning to some familiar and quirky Leith venues from previous editions, such as a former Police Box and charity shop, the LeithLate17 brings on board brand-new venues including Trinity House’s secret underground vaults at the Kirkgate, social enterprise curry house Punjabi Junction, and the Leith Walk Launderette.
This year’s visual art programme introduces three art strands. The first is a solo exhibition of work by recent Glasgow School of Art graduate Clara Hastrup, who was recipient of the inaugural LeithLate Award. The exhibition takes place in one of LeithLate’s new venues: Trinity House’s underground hidden vaults.
There’s also an exhibition curated by Holly Knox Yeoman, the former visual arts curator at Summerhall, on the theme of precarity in Leith. Featuring artist Stephanie Mann, the exhibition takes place at the under-threat Sikh-Scot social enterprise Punjabi Junction. Audience members will be encouraged to donate food items over the course of the show, which are destined for Edinburgh North East Food Bank.
The third prong of the visual art programme is a sound installation from Yann Seznec that takes place in community charity shop Settlement Projects and is comprised completely of donations found in the venue. Seznec’s one-time solo electronics set will take place on LeithLate17's opening night in the shop’s window.
Arts venues open their doors
As ever, LeithLate sees many of the area’s galleries and arts venues open up to the public during the festival. Visual arts production company Ltd Ink Corporation open their studio doors, as does the former Leith Ambulance Depot for the opening night event. Scotland's Travelling Gallery (Art on a Bus) will be parked up for the duration of the festival with their latest exhibition Eat Sleep Work Repeat.
You'll also find artist collective Place + Platform teaming up with Poor Art for a second year: together they’re presenting a combined work called Pics or it Didn't Happen at the Leith Walk Police Box, Leith's smallest arts venue.
There’s also the opportunity to celebrate Leith’s heritage with Custom House and newly opened Custom Lane, Leith Theatre's Thomas Morton Hall and Main Auditorium and Trinity House as the open their doors to LeithLate17 goers on the final day of the festival.
Music and parties
One event not to be missed is the LeithLate Afterparty at Henderson Halls to close the opening night festivities, which is co-hosted by much-loved record label Lost Map; Kid Canaveral headline. Other music highlights include in-store live sessions at Leith Walk record shop Elvis Shakespeare from local talent, and Leith Franklin Cricket Club host the late-night festival party with electro outfit FiniFlex (formerly known as FiniTribe).
The festival comes to a close with Custom & Excess, a collaboration between Custom Lane, Paradigm and We Throw Switches. We’re told the event will “transform the lane into an all-day summer party with DJ sets and unique mix of indie games with fun interactive experiences.”
The LeithLate team reckon they’ve put together their strongest theatre and dance programme yet. Edinburgh-based company Creative Electric present Is this the real life? Is this just broccoli? at the Laundrette on Leith Walk. The programme also features the launch of a new dance production entitled In the Ink Dark by notable theatre-maker and choreographer Luke Pell – we’re told it’ll take the form of “an immersive performance situated in the grand surroundings of the main auditorium of Leith Theatre.”
The annual Mural Tours returns along with a brand new one: the Public Poetry Trail. The former – be warned, it sells out quick – takes in murals old and new across Leith, including its most recent initiatives by Kirsty Whiten and Elph. Taking place on the final day of the festival, some of the murals’ artists will be on hand to discuss their work in person.
Also on the final day of LeithLate, the mint-fresh Public Poetry Trail takes Edinburgh Makar Christine de Luca's recent poem about Leith as inspiration. De Luca’s words in the poem from the Shore to the Kirkgate, through the form of pavement stencils, will leads audiences across town; De Luca will also be reciting the poem in person to audiences.
Other LeithLate highlights
The moving image highlight looks to be a film programme at Pilrig Church curated by Deptford Cinema and Leith Community Cinema that focuses on the issue of gentrification. LeithLate is also partnering with Edinburgh Art Festival to launch a Leith edition of the Every Woman Super Woman zine with accompanying print exhibition at LeithLate festival hub Out of the Blue Drill Hall.
For a full list of events and venues taking part in LeithLate17, head to LeithLate's website