City Art Centre celebrates history of female artists

A lecture on the history of women artists in Edinburgh was held yesterday afternoon at the City Art Centre in the lead-up to International Women’s Day.

Breaching the Glass Ceiling: Women Artists and Professionalism, part of a series of talks discussing female artists, shed light on the status of women artists in the late nineteenth century, their struggle to study their craft and their hope to be recognised as professionals.

Dr Joanna Soden, a Scottish Art specialist and speaker of the event, spoke to EN4 News about the importance of discussing female art:

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity doing such an event and being part of it. Women’s History Month is a continuation of the themes I was talking about through my talk which is about taking whatever opportunity you can and running with it. I think the higher the profile these women have is proof that they can have successful careers worth celebrating.”

The lecture discussed various female Edinburgh artists including Amelia Hill, the main female contributor to the statues seen on the Scott Monument and Mary Rose Hill Burton, a founding member of the Edinburgh Lady Artists’ Club.

Learning and programmes manager Margaret Findlay, who introduced the event, spoke about the success of this series of lectures thus far:

“I think talks like this are really important because art history is quite male dominated so its very important to highlight all the fantastic female artists there have been. This series of lectures we have had in the lead-up to International [Women’s Day] have been phenomenally successful, so that shows that there is an appetite for it.”

The lecture series will conclude this weekend with a talk on the works of artist Mary Cameron on Sunday, complementing the exhibition of her work currently on display.

Edinburgh Art Fair 2019

Photo Credit: Arte in Europa

The Edinburgh Art Fair is set to celebrate its 15th anniversary this week.

The fair will take place between November 21 and 24 at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange, where it has been based since 2005.

It will showcase the work of over 500 artists from across the world, hosting a wide array of different artworks such as paintings, ceramics and glassware, and it’s all by up-and-coming contemporary artists.

There will be art for every type of person, whether it is your first time at the Art Fair or if you are returning once again, and gallerists will be on hand to talk to you about the pieces.

Edinburgh Art Fair exists so people of all backgrounds can partake in the experience. The pieces included in the exhibition come with different price tags in order to make it more accessible to a wider range of people. Artwork will be on sale from £100 all the way up to £50,000, so there should be something for most people.

Some of the exhibitors due to be at the fair include Alpha Art, Bourne Art, and Axis Art.

Tickets for the fair cost £4 for a standard day ticket, and if you are looking for a group ticket for more than 10 people, it will cost you £3 per person – but only when you buy online. If you are a student or unemployed, then you can buy a ticket at the door for £2.

Edinburgh Corn Exchange can be found off Chesser Avenue on New Market Road. EH14 1RJ.

Images of Banksy “Revealed” in Agent’s New Book

Banksy fans will be given a glimpse behind the mystery for the first time.

The artist’s former agent and photographer, Steve Lazarides, will publish photos from their 11 years of working together.

But, keeping with Banksy’s mysterious profile, the photos don’t show his face.

Lazarides said: “I worked with him for 11 glorious years, during which time we broke every rule in the rule book, along with a fair few laws.

“I hate the art world. I only became part of it because Banksy catapulted the movement into the stratosphere.

“It was a ride – however, I’m glad I’m out of it and about to enter the next ride.”

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Lazarides’ 250-page book, Banksy Captured, tells the story of Banksy’s early days.

The images provide a behind-the-scenes look at some of the artist’s most famous work.

The first 50 people to Lazarides’ self-published and self-distributed book will receive a Banksy “Di-faced” £50 note, a fake currency featuring the face of Diana Princess of Wales.

He will also release limited-edition prints of his photographs at affordable prices in a bid to open the art world to a broader audience.

 

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Petition launched to help local artist

A petition has been launched to prevent local street artist Michael McVeigh from losing his “patch” in which he sells prints of his paintings.

The artist, who sells his prints on Saturdays behind Marks & Spencer on Rose Street, claims selling art is is his only source of income. However, Edinburgh City Council believe that nearby construction and vehicle movement in the area conflict with the street trader. They concluded that McVeigh’s display will cause “a severe risk to public safety”

The petition, available on change.org, has currently been signed by 315 people, with organiser Daniel Smith urging more to sign. One overseas supporter wrote:

“I live in Canada and have a few of his prints. I’m complimented on them all the time. I’ve given them as gifts. Scotland should be proud of this fellow. He’s a treasure.”

McVeigh, whose art has been displayed in galleries throughout Edinburgh and Glasgow, has been selling his art on Rose Street for over 20 years. The artist will find out the fate of his trading license next month, when the city council decide whether or not to revoke his permit.

For more on art in Edinburgh, try these articles:

Another Country exhibition: a topical subject meets remarkable artwork

Queer Artists Exhibition

Artist Zac Hughson on gender norms, working in retail and haircuts

 

 

 

Art or Vandalism?

Graffiti adorns dull corners of Edinburgh, bringing colour to brick walls, doors and alleyways. EN4 News photographer Maria Gran explored some well-known graffiti spots in the city in an attempt to find out if this is all accessible art, or simply distasteful markings.

The adventure begins in the Innocent railway tunnel in Newington, now a cycle and footpath frequently used by the population.

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Credit: Maria Gran

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“Let’s Do Something Wrong” Credit: Maria Gran

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“Before toast was invented, did people still smell toast when having a stroke?” Credit: Maria Gran

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Credit: Maria Gran

Maria also checked out Edinburgh’s Cowgate, an area frequented by party-goers and students, as well as lots of graffiti artists

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Credit: Maria Gran

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Credit: Maria Gran

The final spot is Marine Parade Graffiti Wall in Newhaven. This wall features 330 metres of legal graffiti from artists both from Scotland and overseas.

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Credit: Maria Gran

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A portrait of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Credit: Maria Gran

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Credit: Maria Gran

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Credit: Maria Gran

 

Painting outside the lines

If pieces of art go against the social norm, do they make us see the world in a new light?

There are few things in the world that allow us to express ourselves the way that the arts do. Art has an uncanny ability to make us feel empowered, accepted and less alone.

Arguably, the best thing about art is that it has the ability to inspire us. It makes us feel something and can help us turn feeling into action. It can drive us, motivate us, spur us on to act.

Mavericks in Literature

Tracy Chevalier‘s collection of short stories is entitled Reader, I Married Him – inspired by the most famous line in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. The conclusion to the collection reflects on one of history’s first stories to defy social expectations.

Set in 1847, the heroine Jane Eyre is an impoverished orphan with no other family who, by the end of the novel, becomes a governess, the underdog who rises from the dirt. In the 19th century women had little power to determine their own future, so you would expect the line to go “Reader, he married me,” or even “We got married.” But this story sees Jane making the choice to spend her life with Rochester and be the driving force of her own life.

To celebrate and remind people of that self-determination and going against social norms, Chevalier created a collection of short stories from this generation that have the same effect of encouraging people to strive for change (To buy the book, click here).

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Tracy Chevalier’s collection of short stories Reader, I Married Him (Credit: The Borough Press)

Illustrated Rebellion

In modern times, new platforms are supporting artists going against society’s expectations. Kidmograph, also known as Gustavo Torres, is an Argentinian video artist, illustrator, and art director who tackles social issues through his art.

He makes Matrix-style GIFs and music videos that sit between both the digital world and reality whilst denying to commit to either. It reflects on modern day society and how people live their lives in part in the ‘real’ world whilst the other half is stuck in the virtual one.

Musical insurgents

Actions speak louder than words, but sometimes lyrics speak even louder. The politically charged anti-Trump anthem Land of the Free by The Killers touches on a variety of important issues currently happening the US.

The second bridge of the song opens with the powerful line “but if you’re the wrong colour skin (I’m standing, crying), you grow up looking over both your shoulders,” referring to the ongoing race issue in America, and reflecting on topics discussed in last year’s Blackkklansman by filmmaker Spike Lee, who created the music video and is an outspoken critic of President Trump.

The song refers to Trump’s plans to build a wall segregating North America and Mexico, and addresses gun violence and school shootings:

“So how many daughters, tell me, how many sons do we have to have to put in the ground before we just break down and face it: we got a problem with guns?”

Another Country exhibition: a topical subject meets remarkable artwork

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The installation by Toby Peterson at Another Country. (Credit: Rachel Lee)

 

“You come in and it’s quite confrontational. It blocks off a large part of the gallery and on a very literal physical level acts as a barrier,” says artist and curator Euan Gray. “But it’s permeable, he left spaces – as if no borders or barrier is impossible to get through.”

Euan is describing the luminescent orange, capacious fence that is powerfully situated as the exhibition’s centrepiece. The towering instalment is startling yet not distressing. The artist behind it, Toby Paterson, has purposely used ‘safety’ orange. This particular shade of orange stimulates images of life jackets and rescue boats – much like those an immigrant may encounter on their journey.

Contemporary immigration to Scotland, integration and identity are the topics that this exhibition, Another Country, explores through the work of 11 artists. Euan has collaboratively curated the exhibition alongside Alberta Whittle, which is currently displayed at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre.

Each piece in the exhibition is thought-provoking and visually arresting without having to resort to shockingly pervasive imagery. The artists – all of who are either living in Scotland or were born here – address a period of cultural movement or geographical and political unrest through various mediums.

“We’re trying to look at migration from as many different angles as possible,” says Euan. And this is undoubtedly apparent.

Julie Roberts offers a historical reflection of migration with her stained glass like oil painting series on the migration of 10,000 Jewish children in 1938, known as the Kindertransport. Euan refers to it as a ‘positive forced migration’ as the operation rescued the children from the clutches of the Nazis and allowed them to start a new life. Julie perfectly captures the sense of tentative excitement and a new beginning.

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Julie Robert’s oil paintings. (Credit: Rachel Lee)

More up to date, The Brexit Beast is a reaction piece by Andrew Gilbert especially made for this exhibition. The Scottish artist’s grotesquely caricatured Loch Ness monster-like creature sits on the banks overlooking a sea of boats overturned and flailing people drowning. At the enormous monster’s claws, there is a swarm of soldiers, a burning Grenfell Tower and traffic lights. A spiked, menacing medieval morning star weapon and a defiant, waving Union Jack makes up the Brexit beast’s two-pronged tail. Observing the sketch provokes a wry smile before a sense of foreboding reality sets in.

“I’m not wanting to change anybody’s views,” says Euan. “If they just think about migration, then we’ve achieved something. I think it’s important that people just consider both sides of the argument.”

“I just think it’s a very, very important topic that’s only going to get more significant and more heated in the future because of all the tensions that are in the world at the moment.”

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Inside the Another Country exhibition. (Credit: Rachel Lee)

The exhibition took three years of planning after the idea was sparked from Euan visiting Canada and the USA. While there, realised that over 25 million people claim Scottish heritage yet the Scots cultural identity remains prominent. Another Country has previously toured a university in Minnesota and galleries in England.

During these years Euan worked on his own magnum opus for the exhibition. His standout piece is the most interactive of the exhibition, which boasts an extensive variety of art forms including sculpture, photography and film.

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Artist Euan Gray beside his work. (Photo Credit: Rachel Lee)

Although his roots are in painting, he challenged himself to design a functioning pinball machine called ‘The Immigration Game’. The picture etched on the retro machine’s backboard is of a life-jacketed immigrant clutching a young boy in his arms, reminiscent of the images commonly splashed across the front pages of newspapers. The nod to the media is deliberate.

“The game is made to be played for three minutes, which is the average time people spend reading the news.” Euan explained, “I saw the parallel between the entertainment side of playing the game and the media’s involvement with migration from the side of trying to get ratings.”

Inspired by the UKIP poster used in the run-up to Brexit, the motherboard of the machine is a sea filled with the boats full of immigrants.

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The pinball machine’s promotional poster, a painting by Euan. (Credit: Rachel Lee)

“So it was called the Immigration Game as it’s obviously a very ironic title because it’s not a game for the people trying to cross Europe in boats. We’ll play this game, we walk off and forget about it.”

A visitor is unlikely to forget this exhibition, however. Euan says the aim of the exhibition was to open a political dialogue with the audience by being playfully interactive and inclusive, which it certainly has achieved.

You can visit the free exhibition at the City Art Centre before it comes to a close on Sunday the March 17th, a mere 11 days before the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union.

There is a workshop Saturday the February 9th, titled The Legacy of Colonialism that is led by the Another Country team. The workshop will run 10 am – 4 pm at the gallery.

Find out more about the gallery, exhibition and workshop here.

Queer Artists’ Exhibition

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The Queer Arts Collective Exhibition launched this Tuesday. Queer artists have contributed through several different mediums to celebrate the Queerness of art and lives.

In light of LGBT History month, the newly founded Queer Arts Collective and the LGBT+ Liberation Officer at the student association of the University of Edinburgh have come together for this month-long celebration of queer culture.

Natasha Ion, the LGBT+ Liberation Officer, and Fiona Grey, Co-founder of the Queer Arts Collective, put together an opening night party for their exhibition, that aims not only to promote queer art but also to establish a queer arts collective, as they are looking for further engagement in Queer arts exhibitions and performances.

“This exhibition is really to establish ourselves as a collective, so it’s about promoting queer art and artists,” Natasha says.

“We feel like the event fit well into LGBT History Month. What I think is really nice about this is that it’s a really positive exhibition, and really all about celebrating queer life and queer arts, focusing on that side of the LGBT+ community.”

Almost 20 artists contributed pieces to the exhibition and all the artists that contributed were or were assumed to be queer.

“We didn’t make it explicit saying that you absolutely had to be queer to exhibit to us, but it’s done with the assumption that queer artists submit pieces.”

Fiona Grey explains how the exhibition was without any overhead budget, and that it was a group effort of people coming together more than anything.

“It’s more like a thing where I brought some nails and some blue-tack, and I already had a hammer, and the ECA provided us with a white wall to hang things up on,” Fiona explains.

All the white wall pieces will be up for viewing in ECA until February 15th.

On opening night, the show included spoken word, music, performance art and animation. The organisers are ‘chuffed’ with the results and number of contributions to the exhibition.

“We’ve had a whole bunch of artists contribute and we’re really happy to have the event tonight because we only have a certain amount of wall space,” Natasha continues.

“Having the event means we can also include music, spoken word, performance art and animation, whereas all the other contributions have to be flat.”

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UncoverED: Exhibition showcases global alumni in Edinburgh

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Some of the student researchers who helped with the project. (Photo credit: Daisy Smith)

Students from the University of Edinburgh are shining a light on former graduates whose stories have been untold… until now.

For over 150 years students from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Americas have come to Scotland’s capital to study, however many have done so unrecognised for their work and achievements.

From William Fergusson, the first known black student at the University of Edinburgh to Kadambini Ganguly, one of the earliest female physicians from South Asia, the university has played a part in educating many world-leading figures.

The exhibition also features an array of doctors, writers, scientists, artists and more.

A group of student researchers, led by PhD candidates Henry Mitchell and Tom Cunningham, started the project last September and have spent hours reading through old student newspapers, reading biographies and talking to families of the alumni to create a database of successful former students.

Henry Mitchell who led the project said:

“Edinburgh has got this really long and diverse history which hasn’t really been looked at and it has got world thinkers who came to Edinburgh who haven’t been recognised.

“These are people who are famous and are recognised elsewhere, and a lot are in history books but haven’t been recognised in Edinburgh’s history.

“We  went through the archives of the Student which is this really old newspaper. So that starts in 1886 and goes up to the 1980’s. So we read 100 years of the student newspaper in a week.  It’s been really good collaborative research.”

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The exhibition will run from February 1, until June at the University of Edinburgh. (Photo credit: Daisy Smith)

There are two phases of the exhibition. The first, and current, features students from the 1940’s to the 1980’s, and will run until mid-April. The second phase will showcase students from the period between 1800 and 1940, which will run from mid-April until June.

During the research, the team found out more than just the careers of these people but also the lives they lived while in Edinburgh and the experiences they had. They found out what nights out were like, where they lived, what student fees they paid and more.

During the project, the team also found that many of the students did not complete their full degree due to a variety of factors.

Hannah McGurk, a second year German and English student, was part of the research team. She said:

“We found people who are really, really famous in their home countries  that the university just doesn’t really recognise.

“For me, Edinburgh is not a very diverse place and the university does not have a very diverse curriculum. I study English and we were doing all white male writers so for me this is really a way for me to connect with some of those histories.

“It’s an important exhibition because so many students and staff at the university are just unaware of the history, as well as people who just live in the city.

“People of colour have always been a part of the story of Edinburgh, and they still are. This is a really important way to uncover those histories and talk about it and have those conversations.”

Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Scotland’s first black professor, is featured in the exhibition. Born in Jamaica in 1940, he moved to London with his mother at the age of 14 as part of the Windrush generation. He did his PhD in Grain Science and Technology in Edinburgh in 1964.

Natasha Ruwona, an Intermedia student, was part of the team of researchers and wrote the biography of Sir Palmer. She said:

“I was so excited to be part of the project because it was branded as an imperial and colonial project and I am quite interested in the relationship between Scotland and black people.

“I think they are important to be told, because for people of colour like myself, it’s important to see people went to this university so long ago and compare their experience to ours now and how things have changed.”

The project aims to encourage the University of Edinburgh’s community to reflect on its imperial past and how it played a part in the university’s global status.

The free exhibition opens today, and will run until June at the Chrystal Macmillan Building at the University of Edinburgh.

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