Big Things on the Beach: Garden Gallery (3 stars)

This article is from 2008

Big Things on the Beach: Garden Gallery

Public art, right on your doorstep

As far as public art initiatives go, it doesn’t get much more DIY or community-focused than this. Twenty-nine separate works, most of which are hosted in the front gardens of Portobello houses, and all of them part of a scenic walking tour of the waterfront (a map is available to download at But of course, the exciting, treasure-hunt nature of the venture is no guarantee that what is to be found is worth the search.

The work on display varies in quality wildly, although the consideration that has been given to the environmental nature of each usually means that every new piece forms a talking point, at least. Curated by Amber Roome, formerly the owner of the self-named gallery in Edinburgh’s New Town, there is at least the assurance that each piece has been vetted to make sure it isn’t, well, rubbish.

Jessica Harrison’s ‘Floral Displays’ (pictured. Look closely!), for example, have surely been hosted by a family with a black sense of humour. The artist has camouflaged her own ‘flower arrangements’ throughout the garden, but they bear synthetic fingers for petals and eyeballs at the heart of the flower. Lorna Fraser’s ‘Whitehouse’, a greenhouse filled with ghostly plaster plants, is similarly sinister, an aesthetic thrill if not an intellectual one.

There are the remains of performance pieces which are now over, environmental installations by Emma Herman-Smith and Amy Copeman on the shorefront and pieces in all media strewn through the gardens. And there’s a good walk to get to them, which might be the main motivation for many viewers.

Big Things on the Beach, Portobello, 669 8275, until Sat 30 Aug, free.

Big Things On The Beach

  • 3 stars

Results of an interactive community art project organised in Edinburgh's own Riviera.

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