What's On Scotland 2-16 Jul: Merchant City Festival & more

Merchant City Festival hits the streets of Glasgow once more, bringing gravity-defying circus, physical theatre, and dance to Merchant City's public squares. Elsewhere, SHHE brings their new soundscape to the CCA, and the Alternative Degree Show begins.

Feature | 02 Jul 2021
  • Merchant City Festival

If you live in Glasgow, you've probably become very bored of your surroundings over the past year. Thank goodness, then, for Merchant City Festival. The weekend-long city carnival makes a return to Glasgow's city centre from 8-11 July, guaranteed to blow the cobwebs off the streets and their terrible daily walk memories.

Kicking off the festival is a Venetian carnival-inspired party set in and around Merchant Square, with performers, acrobats, and walkers bringing the art of the spectacle to the surrounding area.

And in George Square on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are several carefully curated, regularly scheduled performances. A giant swing set populated by aerialists recalls the breathless exhilaration of childhood freedom (and there's a chance to have a go yourself!), while a poetic blend of dance and acrobatics in original production Catch Me offers an intimate and surprising exploration of race, gender, and age.

Over the weekend at Barrowland Park, meanwhile, is Surge Festival, a mini festival-within-a-festival that showcases subversive, out-of-this-world cabaret performances. There's also a whole bunch of interactive creative endeavours to get stuck into. Build a nest! Create digital sculptures! The world is your oyster!

Karla Black: Sculptures
Fruitmarket, Edinburgh, 7 Jul-24 Oct
It’s been almost two years but Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket is reopening after a major renovation project. Having expanded into the neighbouring building, the impressively roomy new space will be home to Turner Prize-nominated artist Karla Black’s new exhibition, which combines pieces from her prodigious body of previous work with new, large-scale art created especially for the gallery’s redesign. Image: Simon Vogel, courtesy of artist and Schirn Kunsthalle.

CCA: Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow. 2-3 Jul
A unique soundscape installation developed by SAY Award-nominee SHHE follows a Cryptic Nights residency and time spent in Dýrafjörður in the Westfjords of Iceland. This aural exhibition takes place in small groups of up to six and considers how wild landscapes can be encountered physically, sensually, and even remotely, drawing on sleep states and dreams to manifest the lived experience of the natural world. Image: Portis Wasp, courtesy of artist and CCA.

RUNIED: Reinventing Scottish History
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh. Until 14 Nov
Created over the last four years by a group of young Scots named the Image Liberation Force, RUINED is a radical reimagination of Scottish history, mashing up works from the gallery’s collection and subverting our ideas of historical record and national truth. Image: Neil Hanna.

Bard in the Botanics
Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Glasgow. 7 Jul-28 Aug
Marking the (almost?) return of theatre, Bard in the Botanics melds the traditional and the new, staging beloved Shakespeare plays in the atmospheric grounds of Glasgow's Botanics. This year sees the festival take on the subversive, romantic Twelfth Night and The Winter's Tale. Image: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.

Sammy Baloji and Bodys Isek Kingelez
Tramway, Glasgow. Until 25 Jul
One of Glasgow International's exhibitions carrying through almost the whole month of July, this show by Congolese artists Sammy Baloji and Bodys Isek Kingelez uses intricate sculpture and photography to juxtapose colonial past with futuristic urban environments. Image: Courtesy of artist and Tramway.

Under Canvas Festival
Eden Court, Inverness. Until 30 Sep
With infection rates flying all over the place these days, an outdoor festival feels like the safest bet and that's exactly what Under Canvas offers: almost three months of contemporary folk, jazz, and world music under a Covid-safe tent taking place on the picturesque banks of the River Ness. Image: Under Canvas.

Alternative Degree Show Festival
Various venues, Glasgow. 5-21 Jul
A complement to Glasgow School of Art's remarkable digital degree show, the Alternative Degree Show Festival is a student-led curation that brings the best of this year's graduating classes to various venues across Glasgow, from the Briggait to The Pipe Factory and everywhere in between. Image: Daisy Iles.