Edinburgh Art Festival Events programme aims to make us think again about how we live
- Alex Johnston
- 30 June 2017
Events and activities include workshops, talks, performances and a look at the work of the great town planner Patrick Geddes
The Edinburgh Art Festival returns in July, and besides the exhibitions there's also a programme of performances, events, talks, walks, tours and musical evenings to fill the calendars of anyone who doesn't feel like hurling themselves into the churning maelstrom of humour solutions and avant-tainment that is the Edinburgh Fringe. This is the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh as a festival city, but the EAF is also marking the 100th anniversary of the publication of a book, The Making of the Future: A Manifesto and a Project, by the biologist, sociologist and pioneering town planner Patrick Geddes .
Geddes' ideas about town planning were and are revolutionary: he favoured 'constructive and conservative surgery' over the kind of ambitious, large-scale planning that caused entire cities like Paris, New York and even Edinburgh itself to bulldoze their heritage and construct gridirons in their place. It's partly as a result of Geddes' efforts that so much of Edinburgh's Old Town still survives. The EAF is hosting a four-day event called A Summer Meeting, devoted to exploring Geddes' legacy, including a chance to visit his home, 14 Ramsay Garden.
The EAF's focus on Geddes' ideas comes in Scotland's Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, and it aims to stimulate discussion about dominant mythologies, belief systems, the public sphere and the role of art in civil society.
Here are a few highlights of events in this year's EAF:
Zoë Walker and Neil Bromwich: By leaves we live … not by the jingling of our coins
Walker and Bromwich mark the launch of the festival with an inflatable Dragon of Profit and Private Ownership taking to the streets of Edinburgh. The artists are working with a various participants, including children and families from Canal View Primary School in Wester Hailes.
Trinity Apse, Chalmers Close, 42 High Street, Thu 27 July, 2pm, free
Manaf Halbouni, What If?
Manaf Halbouni has imagined an alternative timeline for European history, in which, the Ottoman Empire and United States of Arabia split Europe. This event aims to challenge how we think about history, challenging our assumptions about the continuous threat from terrorism, increased Islamophobia, and conflict in the Middle East. Speakers include Manaf Halbouni, Professor Paul Starkey and Dr Janet Starkey.
The Royal Scottish Academy, The Mound, 29 July, 2.30–5.30pm, free
The Making of the Future: Now
An afternoon of walks, talks and activities that looks at the continuing importance of Patrick Geddes' ideas about urban renewal and at the role of artists in making the future for our cities and communities.
North Edinburgh Arts, 15a Pennywell Court, Fri 11 Aug 2–5pm, £5 (£3; £1 NEA Good Neighbour Scheme)
14 Ramsay Garden: Talks and Tours
Patrick Geddes' house, which was designed and built as his family home, is now a holiday apartment, and this is a rare opportunity to look around and get some insight into his thoughts about family, community, city and landscape.
14 Ramsay Garden, Edinburgh, Mon 14 Aug, £10 (£5). Book through EAF website.
Juliana Capes: Earthly Bodies
This street-based artwork is based on the Juliana Capes' mapping of Edinburgh's chewing gum constellations, turning a normally unnoticed or disliked part of the city's geography into a theatre of wonder.
The Writer's Museum, Lady Stairs House, Lady Stairs Close, Lawnmarket, Wed 9–Sun 27 Aug, Wed–Sat 10am–5pm, Sun noon–5pm, free
Pauline and the Matches: Exhibition, Workshops & Performances
This group of anonymous multi-media performance and sound artists take their name from a cautionary tale from Henrich Hoffmann's gruesome 1845 kids' book, Struwwelpeter. They look at how small-scale actions can have a global impact.
8 Custom Lane, Custom Wharf, 67 Commercial Street, Sat 12–Sun 27 Aug, Mon–Sat, 10am–5pm, Sun 11am–4pm, free
Sam Adamson, Lachlan Mcfeely Bolt, Harriet Morley & Rachael Simpson: Eh? What's This?
Four Scottish contemporary artists respond both collectively and independently to the community of Portobello with performance, installation and sculpture, focusing on audience and accessibility. The venue is a former necktie retailer, and the show plays on the word 'tie' to look at what ties us to areas and to people.
A449 Architects, 266–268 Portobello High Street, Fri 28 Jul–Mon 28 Aug, Thu–Sun, 10am–4pm, free
Outdoor art workshops for kids aged 3–7 in the Scottish Wildlife Trust garden, with play, woodland games, art activity and fire-building. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Johnston Terrace Wildlife Garden, Patrick Geddes Steps / Castle Wynd South, Fri 4, Fri 11, Fri 18 & Fri 25 Aug, 10am–noon, free
Edinburgh Art Festival Events Programme runs at various venues in and around Edinburgh from Thu 27 Jul–Sun 27 Aug.