Rosalie Doubal leads a team around the city on a scavenger hunt in the name of art
This article is from 2008.
9am City Art Centre
Equipped with a bike, a laptop, a compass, eight sandwiches and some anoraks, my team – a dyspraxic researcher, a father-of-one, a diehard Buckfast drinker and a token ginger – joins a long queue of eager scavengers. Neither the synchronised cycling nor the Challenge Anneka-style jumpsuits of the other teams can intimidate us: we are four, we are a team and we have trainers on.
This is a particularly sunny, cinematic experience. Artist Joshua Sofaer addresses an excited crowd in a manner akin to Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka. The 100 clues are distributed by an army of Austin Powers-like helpers and all are overcome by the desire to gallop and whoop. Yes, we genuinely do gallop and whoop.
10.30am Waverley Station
Fuelled by adrenaline and clues, we head down into the station for a hit of caffeine and some wi-fi hot-spot Google action. Forty-five minutes of clue-cracking and reckless decision-making later, we’ve compiled a list of places to go and things to make, scavenge and buy.
11.30am ‘Scotland’s Disgrace: Greek Tragedy’
We head for Calton Hill’s unfinished Athenian acropolis where a short skit from the exquisitely talented live artist Stacy Makishi and producer Anthony Roberts, a consummately comic double-act, informs us that we must make a head-wreath. We snatch at trees and then, under the guise of a deliberate schism, set off down the hill at 30-second intervals.
Noon South Clerk Street
With the ‘To Buy’ list and our budgeted tenner in hand, I hit the charity shops. While trawling for ‘any action figure that is not Wonder Woman dressed as Wonder Woman’, I source an action man and a Godspell record: I will fashion an Action Man/Jesus Christ Superstar hybrid and hope for the best. This later proves an early schoolboy error.
1.30pm Crags Sport Centre
Dressed in a leotard and unitard respectively, artists Stacy and Anthony herd us into the gym. Lines of scavengers stretch, bend and grunt to the Rocky theme tune, while the Lycra-clad pair reveal the 75-pointer scavenge, a white, sweat-stained sports sock.
2pm Holyrood Park
A quick forage in the woods for clue 92 (‘Witch transport’) leaves us laden with a large broomstick-appropriate branch and a bundle of twigs. I receive encouraging phone calls from team-mates regaling tales of face massages at the Salisbury Centre, one-on-one dance tuition at Dance for All and strange happenings in RL Stevenson’s old house with a period-dressed Nanny.
3pm ‘Kirk under the Castle’
We are met at the door of St Cuthbert’s Church with a hug and a handshake from the suited and booted Anthony, who is set to be married to the lovely Stacy. The ceremony, however, sadly ends in his almost being jilted by a superstitious fiancée fixated on the need for a blue garter. Thankfully, it’s nothing that a scrap of white lace and some blue floor cleaner can’t fix.
3.30pm ‘Witches Memorial’
Hell hath no fury like a local on the Royal Mile on a Festival Saturday. In the hardest leg of the scavenge we pay our respects to burnt witches on the Castle Esplanade. Spirits remain high however, as the classic team-bonding buzz of you-know-we-may-just-win-this kicks in.
4.15pm Leith Academy
An art class with the now familiar and greatly anticipated double-act involves around 40 scavengers sculpting clay, joining dirty hands and singing ‘Kumbaya’. Euphoria ensues.
6.30pm City Art Centre
After an hour-long arts and crafts session akin to watching Blue Peter on acid, we make it down to our allotted table in the gallery space. Adopting a ‘crime scene’ aesthetic, we lay out our minutiae of tenderly crafted and scavenged items. Pieces of ravioli, numbered and glued to a small rectangle of card, sit alongside a free-standing caricature of Alex Salmond and a small Top Shop shoebox coffin. We look around in mild panic as other teams haul in doors, sinks and ladders.
7.30pm The Judgement
One member from each team sits with their treasures while a group of strict, po-faced judges grade the hauls. After the great day we’ve had, I find it surprisingly upsetting to watch each of our lovingly scavenged items being scrutinised and often disqualified. Sadly, our cardboard and sticky tape dreams don’t quite correspond to the scrapyard expectations of the judges.
10pm The Prize-Giving
A party rages upstairs and by the end of the judging process the teams are tired and tipsy. The £2000 suitcase of cash is awarded to the deserving Captain Morgan and the Pirates, while the valuable haul downstairs is packed and prepped for next week’s exhibition.
The Scavengers exhibition showing the works found and created on the hunt is at City Art Centre, 18–24 Aug, Mon–Sat 10–5pm, Sun 12–5pm, free.