Forty years of Filmhouse

Since the first electronic television was created in 1927, people have gradually become used to enjoying the entertainment of motion picture at home. Good for some, but has also forced many cinemas to be in a continuous battle to remain up and running.

In the following 90 years, the introduction of VHS, cable channels, digital TV online streaming devices such as Netflix and Now TV have added pressure to the already crowded industry.

A look at Edinburgh’s cinema history alone is a demonstration of this struggle: a city which has seen over 70 cinemas open their doors, has also seen dozens of them shut up shop, and now hosts just nine public picture houses.

Filmhouse is a success story amongst the tales of failure and closures. On October 9th, the cinema will celebrate its 40-year anniversary, and this at a time when it remains as busy as it ever was.

80s crowds

Scorsese on stage

Credits to Filmhouse

Four decades ago, on the same day in 1978, the entity called Filmhouse was first launched. Starting from its very first screening, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, the 1972 German film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the cinema has made strong curatorial decisions and has since then has become a household name for film lovers in search of alternative and foreign films.

Housed at 88 Lothian Road, it is the only cinema in Edinburgh which is registered as a charity, which means none of the money spent within the cinema goes to film distributors or big production companies.

Michael Hunter, marketing officer at Filmhouse, explains how this sets the institution aside from others: “All the money spent here, be it at the bar or at the cinema, goes back into the charity as a donation, for programming great films and organising learning opportunities in Edinburgh.”

However, this doesn’t mean Filmhouse has slackened in its creativity or relies solely on its position as a charity. It has instead become a prime example of how cinemas can stand out and attract new audiences in an age where many people don’t see the point of exiting their cosy living rooms just to see a film.

The cinema is best known in the city as the official home of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF), which takes place for two weeks in June every year. The world’s longest continually-running film festival screens hundreds of films ranging in genres and length and was attended by an audience of over 50,000 people in 2018.

Yet it may be the dedication to proving film can be more than just entertainment and its more specialist festivals (Filmhouse currently hosts 13) which include versatile and eclectic programmes, that make Filmhouse stand out from all other cinemas in Edinburgh.

Unlike the limited selection of films on online streaming platforms and the Hollywood-centric films shown on TV time and time again, Filmhouse digs deep into motion picture archives and screens films which are relevant and relate to current topics.

It houses the Take One Action festival over the course of two weeks in September, showcasing the stories of (small) people making big changes in the world, from female right-wing activists in Greece to victims of the Franco dictatorship seeking justice, to encourage its audience to be the change it wants to see.

For 13 years, the Africa in Motion festival screens films highlighting creative stories from across the African continent which would otherwise not be accessible to most audiences as home and offers a look into worlds very different from our own.

Head of Filmhouse, Rod White, explains how the organisation of such festivals contribute to the continued success of the cinema: “All the festivals we work with exist within their own communities and connect us with audiences we might struggle to attract. We could not be as international and as diverse as we are without them.”

By hosting these festivals, the cinema is also able to challenge viewers to consider the power of film as a media more than any other cinema in the city, or even in the country.

To mark its 40th anniversary, Filmhouse put together a line-up of classics and notable films taken from the programmes of every year since its doors opened, with prices reflecting the prices at the time. Starting in 2016 and finishing up with the film showed at the first public viewing at the cinema in 1978 today with Gertrude, for just £1.

Looking forward to the next 40 years, Michael hopes Filmhouse can continue doing what it has been since 1978: “Filmhouse is great because we offer things you can’t find elsewhere. As long as we can, we want to keep doing what we are doing, and we just want to keep showing films that we believe in.”




Museum of Childhood

A trip down memory lane.

Museum of Childhood.JPG

The Museum of Childhood, 8th October 2018. Photo by Ross Hempseed.

Initially, looking at the impressive facade of the Museum of Childhood, you might feel overcome with giddy enthusiasm as you prepare to take a trip down memory lane. This is as close as you will come to entering a real-life time machine, and into a work of youthful innocence. The museum’s latest exhibit, entitled Growing Up with Books, showcases some of the oldest and most beloved children’s books throughout history.

The new edition boasts a wonderful collection of early works for children including some well-known titles such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Little Women. All centred around specific themes, many of the books date back hundreds of years. Throughout time,  they have all been loved by generations of children who have grown up to learn important life lessons taught within the pages of their favourite childhood literature.

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Picture of Alice in Wonderland book, 8th October 2018. Photo by Ross Hempseed.

The exhibition is split into themes such as ‘Worlds of Imagination’, in which you find classic fairy-tales. Interestingly, back in the late 19th century, some of these stories were seen as a danger to the growth of children’s minds as they perpetuated worlds which were fictional and unrealistic. However,  for most children, it opened up a whole new world where they could immerse themselves in adventure and explore the impossible.

Since their publications, they continue to be a popular influence in many childhoods; even today books such as Alice in Wonderland, which was first published in 1865 and remains one of the best-selling novels of all time with an excess of 100 million copies sold, are loved worldwide. Other novels from the late 19th century such as ‘Black Beauty’, ‘Pinocchio’ and ‘20,000 Leagues under the Sea’ have all sold over 50 million copies, which shows both the longevity and the relevance of the underlying message of these books, which is to use your imagination.

“Imagination is more important than Knowledge.” Albert Einstein.

Another theme was ‘Worlds of Knowledge’, in which educational children’s books are displayed, highlighting the ongoing importance of books as a learning tool to help children examine the world around them and develop a healthy curiosity. Sadly, nowadays many children look to the internet rather than books to solve simple questions and explore their curiosities, which often undermines the need for books at all. This section of the exhibit proves why it is important for children to be familiar with books, as it showcases books focusing on science, humanities and religion. These give a fascinating insight into children’s learning and how they developed a relationship with these books as learning tools through notes and scripts within their pages.

“The more that you read. The more things that you will know.” Dr Seuess.

Museum Curator Susan Gardner was able to highlight some of the key aspects of the exhibit and how it developed from the back catalogue of over 16,000 books to the 150 that are on display now. These books are a representation of all key themes such as learning, imagination, growth and identity:

Having spent time with the books they speak to you as they do to all children who get lost in the images of dragons and damsels in distress, misty mountains and ancient castles, thunderous giants and promises of gold and adventure. Yet for adults who grew up reading rather than playing video games or surfing the internet, the exhibition offers a gentle reminder of how these books helped shape and define them as adults today.


Entertainment Podcast @ 4pm

Today EN4News discusses the effects of the sexual allegations on Kevin Spacey’s career.

Cameron Storer is joined by Jamie McDonald and Jamie Taylor as they discuss their views and opinions on how damaging the allegations could be on Spacey and our society.

Source: Rolling Stone

Brainstorm: The Greatest Exhibitions of 2017

Mark Wallinger:MARK

Edinburgh and Dundee play host to the works of  Mark Wallinger which can be humorous, painful and political, sometimes all at once. Current Rorschach images shape the foundation of these exhibitions that focus on his latest body of work. Wallinger once performed as the back end of a pantomime horse but his profile and prominence cry out for a grander museum arena. However, the opportunity should be taken to appreciate his work in these more intimate venues.

Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, 4 March–4 June and Dundee Contemporary Arts, 4 March–4 June.


Detail from Aleksandra Mir’s space tapestry. Photography: Aleksandra Mir

Aleksandra Mir

 This visionary artist has created a 200 metre tapestry in honour of our astronomical journey into space. The project contains the real, the imagined, the present and the future. Mir has team up with a number of young artists bound for success in her optimistic urge for a stellar adventure.

Tate Liverpool, 23 June–15 October.

North: Identity, Photography, Fashion

With the theme of masculinity this exhibition explores the ways in which youth culture has influenced fashion and music. The exhibition asks whether Northern England presents a particular aesthetic along with an individual attitude?

Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, 6 January-19 March.


Standard Station by Edward Ruscha

The American Dream

This print art aspiringly tries to demonstrate the nation’s artistic glory with a focus on American society. Starting with the pop art giants, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Jaspers Johns, this shows takes us through the artistic years and reaches modern day with the displaying of Kara Walker, Julie Mehretu and Ed Ruscha.

British Museum, London, 9 March–18 June.


 Examining how Californians are shaping our lives, this exhibition follows the design story from the 1960’s to define how the Golden State founded individual freedom. From skateboarding and self-driving vehicles to political movements and iPhones. How are their designers still contributing to everyday modernism?

The Design Museum, London, 24 May–15 October.


Portait of an artist (pool with two figures) by David Hockney

David Hockney

Nearing his 80th, Hockney is celebrated in the largest exhibition of his long and diverse career. As a distinguished portraitist, photographer, graphic and video artist, all will be displayed in a merriment of artistic wonder.

Tate Britain, London, 9 February–29 May. Hockney

The Place is Here

This representation of black art during Britain of the 80’s show a collection of archive material including paintings, photography, sculpture and the moving images of post colonial Britain. Art from the likes of Sunil GuptaLubaina Himid and many more helped shape British culture throughout a time of significant cultural and social transformation.

Nottingham Contemporary, 4 February–30 April


Eruption by William Hamilton diplayed at Bodleian Library. Photography: Bodleian


Amongst the fascinating articles to be found amongst this history of volcanoes in science and art are charred papyrus from a Roman villa buried by the infamous eruption of Vesuvius in AD79. The prevailing analysis of volcanoes started during the 18th century, when artists started painting images of the erupting Vesuvius exploding into life. The illustrated scientific work, Campi Flegrei by William Hamilton and more recent work by  Andy Warhol captured Vesuvius. Explosively hot stuff.

Bodleian Library, Oxford, 10 February – 21 May.

Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!

This exhibition explores the art and diverse talents of the unique  Grayson Perry. Percy’s cross dressing, Turner prize winning, undoubted artistic talents and TV appearances have propelled him to the recognition of a national cultural figure. His artistic phenomenon will be there for all to judge. How will it stake up?

Serpentine Galleries, London, 8 June–10 September.


Clip from Amie Siegal’s work and history. Photography: Jens Liebchen

Amie Siegel: Strata

Her anticipated UK solo tour Amie Siegel takes us on a voyage through the complementary collections of places, materials, work and history. The film displays the voyage from the world’s largest underground marble quarry to their final destination amongst Manhattan’s skyscrapers.

South London Gallery, 20 January–26 March.

Watch: Councillor Richard Lewis discusses the Capitals new Culture Fund

A new £45,000 fund has been created to support Edinburgh-based artists as part of the city’s new culture plan. Convener of the culture and sport committee, Richard Lewis explained more about the fund and the benefits it may reap.

PODCAST: The Importance of Theatre in Scotland + Interview with Leith Theatre



Jessica Mercer talks the arts scene in Scotland, the future of Scottish theatre and more with Ian Webb, venue manage from Leith Theatre.


Book Week Scotland 2016

Scotland’s annual November Book Week Scotland is back in town this week until the 27th of November. It is a week not only for book lovers but people of all ages who want share their passion for literature.

According to the Daily Record, even the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has joined the week’s endeavours and dared students at St Conval’s Primary in Glasgow to write reviews of books they have read, inside the books themselves, for future readers to pick up.

She went on to explain the importance of building and expanding the “reading culture” across schools.

“Book Week Scotland’s dares are a great way to excite children about reading and […] encouraging children to develop a love of reading from an early age through fun activities,” stated Sturgeon.


This is a week event hosted by the Edinburgh UNESCO World City of Literature Trust, a registered charity that that goes by the name “The Trust”, a team of enthusiasts with a “story-fuelled passion” for books.

The Trust’s CEO, Mark Lambert, explained; “Book Week Scotland is the perfect time for teachers and parents alike to get their children enthused about the First Minister’s Reading Challenge.”

The Trust have organised for Scottish talents, poets, illustrators, authors, storytellers, to engage with book-aficionados from all walks of life across the city in libraries, community venues and schools, to talk about the inspirations in their work.

Creative Scotland’s Arts and Engagement Director, Leonie Bell, also expressed her excitement about the fifth year of Book Week and how it is “a real celebration of Scotland’s incredible literary culture, from new writers to old favourites.  With an outreach programme ensuring that everyone across Scotland is able to enjoy the magic of reading and a plethora of book-related events, talks and dares to embark on, Scottish Book Trust is taking us on a reading adventure like no other.”


Book Week Scotland challenges you to get involved and be dared. So how can you take part? Click here to be assigned a ‘random dare’ and perhaps read a new genre you’ve never explored before. Share your dare with the hashtag #BookWeekScot and get your family and friends to join in too.

To learn more about Book Week Scotland go to Follow them on Twitter @Bookweekscot and on their Book Week Scotland Facebook page.

Council cuts force Edinburgh museums to close doors

Writers Museum in Edinburgh

Writers Museum in Edinburgh


Museums in Edinburgh will have their opening hours shortened in an attempt to cut costs.

Currently, the council is spending £1.8 million a year on museums and galleries, which equates to 0.19% of their overall budget. In the 2014/15 season, they attracted 916,000 visitors.

Most of the cuts in hours will come during the weekdays. The plans will see The City Art Centre close on Mondays and Tuesdays, while the Museum of Childhood will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Others to be affected include the Writer’s Museum, People’s Story Museum, Museum of Edinburgh and Queensferry Museum. The Scott and Nelson Monuments are not expected to be affected.

The Museums and Galleries Update Report has said that the changes will be monitored for the next year and “a future report will be brought to this committee on the impact of the changes”.

A spokeswoman for the council has said that, “The new opening hours at our museums and galleries bring these venues in line with heavy footfall days like the weekends so it benefits our customers. They were implemented following extensive consultation with staff and feedback from visitors and users.”

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