This article is sponsored by Edinburgh Art Festival.
A guide to a day at Edinburgh Art Festival 2021
- Megan Merino
- 11 August 2021
With the capital's visual art festival well underway, follow this simple route to enjoy its vast programme
After last year's hiatus, Edinburgh Art Festival has returned with over 35 new exhibitions across 30 Edinburgh venues as well as an extensive online programme, the majority of which is free to attend.
With exhibition visits still a novelty post-lockdown and many of the Scottish capital's galleries concentrated in the city centre, a single day's wander can easily be packed with the most magnificent Edinburgh Art Festival highlights.
Start the day at the Dovecot Studios on Drummond Street, a stone's throw from the heart of the Old Town. Here visitors can see Archie Brennan's Tapestry Goes Pop!, a retrospective told through 80 of the Edinburgh native's tapestries as well as archive material. Also available to view at Dovecot Studios is Paisley painter Jock McFadyen's Lost Boat Party exhibition featuring his iconic 'urban dystopian' landscapes, in celebration of his 70th birthday year.
Head towards South Bridge and cross onto Chambers Street to Edinburgh University's Talbot Rice Gallery where The Normal exhibition reflects on life's change of pace during the pandemic in 2020. Then head left along Chambers Street toward the National Museum Of Scotland. If tempted by The Galloway Hoard: Viking-age Treasure exhibition on display there, by all means enter. But as it's running until Sunday 12 September, those who are tight for time should continue on and turn right down George IV Bridge towards The Royal Mile (top tip: give yourself a full day to explore the National Museum).
Intersecting the Royal Mile on the right-hand side is the impressive French Institute. This building plays host to Platform: 2021, a series of exhibitions by early career artists living in Scotland. Enter to explore Glasgow-based artist Jessica Higgis' film Hold Music (Denise's Ear), London-born musician and artist Danny Pagarani's film Dear, It Backwards, Aberdonian Kirsty Russell's textile works and Isabella Widger's installation and drawings, which all respond to Gustave Flaubert's novella A Simple Heart.
Wander down towards Waverley Station will take visitors to Market Street, where Stills, Fruitmarket and City Art Centre are located. Pop in to see Sekai Machache's The Divine Sky (Stills), Karla Black's sculptures created from 2001–2021 (Fruitmarket), and Ian Hamilton Finlay's Marine (City Art Centre).
Head right along East Market Street and turn left on New Street to see permanent work A Drama In Time by Graham Fagen publicly displayed by Jacob's Ladder. Take another right onto Calton Road and head to Burns Monument for Emeka Ogboh's Song Of The Union sound installation, the hums from which are said to float invitingly around the neighbouring streets.
Loop back left onto Calton Road to see part of the Associate Artist programme with an outdoor photographic exhibition by Francis Dosoo on the Calton Road Billboards, before heading up Calton Hill to Collective at the City Observatory. There visitors can discover Alison Scott's integrated print and sound work ditto ditto ditto which explores the connection between climate, weather and human nature. In the spirit of connecting with nature, finish the day by taking in the magnificent views over the city on the hill that gives Edinburgh its 'Athens of the North' name.
Additional festival venues across the city
Venture out west to the Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art (Modern One) to see Isaac Julien's Lessons Of The Hour, centring around abolitionist Frederick Douglass' life and brief stint in Scotland. Read this interview with the artist to find out why it's one of the highlights of the festival programme.
Visit Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop in Newhaven to see Irish artist Sean Lynch's Tak Tent O' Time Ere Time Be Tint, an exhibition co-commissioned by Edinburgh Art Festival and Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop to show Edinburgh's public monuments and sculptures in a new light.
Finally, hop on a 45-minute bus ride west toward Wilkieston to Jupiter Artland, where Turner Prize co-winner Alberta Whittle's film RESET is on display. Filmed in lockdown while Whittle was in Barbados and her collaborators, including writer Ama Josephine Budge and animator Anushka Naanayakkara, were in Scotland and South Africa, RESET is Whittle's response to a series of recent global events, including the Black Lives Matter protests, ongoing threats posed by climate change and the global pandemic.
Discover other Edinburgh Art Festival routes and exhibitions to explore at this year's programme, running until Sunday 29 August at edinburghartfestival.com.