Art Walk Porty: Stories in the Salt

This year’s Art Walk Porty examines the watery geographies of Portobello through residencies, workshops and film screenings

Preview by Harvey Dimond | 30 Aug 2022
  • Akosua Adoma Owusu, Drexciya

Titled SALT, the core programme of the 2022 rendition of the festival operates at the intersection of art, science and ecology, and features exhibitions, four artist residencies, film screenings and artist-led talks and walks. Although taking place in September, the interdisciplinary project will extend into 2023, culminating in a publication with four writers' responses to the residencies. The commissioned texts will also feature throughout September on

The festival’s curator, and participating artist Rosy Naylor, explains the importance of this extended temporality, of "bringing visibility to a social practice method that many of the residency artists are involved with, to perhaps show that the conversations along the duration of a project can be as valuable as final outcomes." While the old saltpans at Joppa provide an immediate link to this year’s title SALT, Naylor also thinks through the issue of seawater salinity – "of the salinity levels in our seas and oceans serving as a potential measure of increasing global changes relating to climate." 

The four resident artists will show their work at the Art Walk Hub (at 189 Portobello High Street) at this early stage of their residencies, with a further exhibition planned in March 2023 that will show the culmination of the artists’ projects. One of the four artists in residence is Natasha Thembiso Ruwona, who is curating ENDLESS/BELLY, interrogating myth, spirituality and memory in response to Black Ecologies. It features three new live art commissions by Edinburgh-based practitioners Tanatsei Gambura, Khadea Santi and Lisa Williams. Ruwona has also programmed a screening of six films by Black artists creating work centred on water, taking place on Saturday 3 September

A hand holding a dark sea shell in front of a sandy beach.
Khadea Santi, Salt Wounds, 2022. Image courtesy of the artist

Meanwhile, fellow resident artist Tonya McMullan presents Crude Floral, which considers the future of the areas around Seafield, and how these futures can cater to the community while simultaneously addressing the effects of climate change. McMullan will lead a ‘Synthetic Seawater’ workshop on Friday 9 September followed by a ‘Seafield Scent Identifying’ workshop on Sunday 11 September. Joanne Matthews’ residency, titled I looked out and saw plumes of salted air, will grapple with the connections between capitalism, rising sea levels and over-salination, while Mahala Le May’s Tasting stories from the sea will focus on global food production in relation to the Forth area, through a series of participatory events and workshops. 

Exhibitions by an array of artists, including Iman Tajik, Julia Barton and Di McGhee take place across Portobello during the festival, as well as an exciting and extensive programme of film screenings, walks, swims and book launches. 

Art Walk Porty 2022 launches on 31 August, and continues until 11 September