Another Country exhibition: a topical subject meets remarkable artwork


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.

The plight of Hidden Door

The winner of last year’s “Best Cultural Event” at the Scottish Thistle Awards, the not-for profit Hidden Door Festival is in dire need of funds.

Edinburgh is a deeply creative city. There’s always something going on, a festival or a show or a gallery opening or a theatrical event – always something, right up to the Fringe Festival itself. Hidden Door Festival is one such event, and it’s a pretty good one at that. Hidden Door seeks to give a little limelight to lesser known performers and artists, as well as putting on a few big acts to make sure there’s a hell of a show.

Hidden door CREDIT - Tom Parnell

Photo Credit: Tom Parnell

The non-profit, all volunteer festival’s final distinction is its reclamation of unused and derelict spaces around the capital. This came to a head last year when the festival resurrected the old Leith Theatre while the festival was on, which also paved the way for the theatre to stage several events during the Fringe Festival during the summer.

All funding from the event goes back to the contributors and to funds future festivals. Hidden Door has made amazing progress in utilising old, forgotten parts of the capital. All this could be lost, however, as the organisers are struggling to make the money needed to put on the festival next year.

Originally, the goal was to raise £80,000 between August and December. However, as the end of the year approaches, the festival has only managed to raise a quarter of its goal. There’s two options: if the festival raises its initial goal, the annual 9-day event goes on as planned. If at least £40,000 can be raised, there will be a Hidden Door “weekender” – the same promotion of emerging artists, the same fascinating venues, but across a smaller timescale.

Hidden door 1 - CREDIT TO Tom Parnell

Photo credit: Tom Parnell

Essentially, Hidden Door needs your help. One can either donate directly on their fundraising website, or you can attend the Hidden Door Christmas Art Sale this weekend at Skylight Cafe. The sale, which takes place on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th will feature 200 artworks donated by supporters of the festival as well as the emerging artists that have been part of the festival in past years.

In conclusion, while the capital has a lot of cultural events, losing any of them is a blow to Edinburgh’s unique reputation. Also, none of the shows, galleries, and gigs can take place without a little bit of support being thrown behind small-scale artists – this is exactly what Hidden Door exists to do. So please, support this festival in any way you can. It’s a pretty worthy cause, and when it’s on next year, you’ll be very happy that you did.


Preserving Scottish Gaelic heritage and culture through the Royal National Mòd

Culture and history are two of the key motivators for visits to Scotland and the Highlands and Islands, and they play an important part of the visitor experience. Scotland is rich in history and archaeology — from World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments, listed buildings to historic battlefields, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends.

However, there is a fear that Scotland is risking the irrecoverable loss of its heritage by abandoning the use of its native language — Scottish Gaelic. Only 57,375 people which is the equivalent of 1.1% of the Scottish population aged over three years old, are reported as able to speak Gaelic.

Luckily, the Gaelic community is actively trying to preserve its culture and traditions, and the Royal National Mòd is one of them.

The Royal National Mòd is the main music festival of Scottish Gaelic literature, songs, arts and culture and is one of the more notable peripatetic cultural festivals in Scotland. It is the most important of several other Mòds that are held annually. This year it was held in Dunoon and was organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach (The Highland Association).


The Royal National Mòd 2018 programme

The festival ran from October 12 to 20 and included many competitions and awards for people as young as seven years old. Whether you are fluent in Gaelic or still learning the language, everyone was welcomed to take part.

Ricky Hannaway, an Assistant Floor Manager and Runner Co-ordinator working on the Mòd, spoke about what impact festivals like this one has on the Gaelic community.

“There are only about 60 thousand Gaelic speakers,” Ricky explained. “So, to have a situation where you can put more emphasis on the culture, where people learn old songs, where people learn old arrangements of things when they learn instruments to go do musical events, it’s really good.

“Our culture is an oral tradition where we pass everything on, all the information, through word of mouth, spoken stories and songs. So now that we’ve got a place and a platform to do that it’s really good.”


Dunoon presents… The Royal National Mòd 2018

During the Mòd festival, people celebrate old traditions of the Gaelic culture. But some believe this isn’t the best approach to keep the language alive, Ricky said.

“Some people don’t have an opinion of the Mòd of something that’s good, they think it’s a bit detrimental to the culture, thinking we’re always looking backwards. But I think it’s something that can preserve what we’ve got but has a forwarding outlook as well.”

Not only does Ricky work in the festival, but he also competes in it.

“It’s an absolute experience to be a part of the Mòd,” he said. “For years I sang in the Mod and I never knew anything about the media side of things. Now doing the media side of things, it’s great and it’s adventitious because I know the people involved in putting the Mòd together.”

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.

Museum of Childhood Alice.JPG

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.


Positivity and religion


Miriam Hussain

A story of a Scottish-Pakistani girl changing the status quo in Edinburgh.

With more and more people from different backgrounds moving to Edinburgh, the influx of new cultures and nationalities is changing the demographics of Scotland. This can be a hard pill to swallow for some, and integration can be even harder for others. Some people are trying to change that; Miriam Hussain is one of those people.

Miriam’s parents both came to Scotland when they were young in pursuit of better work and have since forged a good life for their family, but she says she still feels a close link to her heritage: “I’m Scottish-Pakistani. Born and raised in Fife by Pakistani born parents. Saying ‘Scottish’ doesn’t cover it. I feel just as much Pakistani as I do a Scottish lass.” Growing up in Scotland has given her a Scottish accent, a Scottish sense of humour, a Scottish lifestyle – if you were to close your eyes and talk to Miriam, you would be none the wiser that she is Scottish-Pakistani.

Both of these factors contributed to making Miriam very loud and proud about women’s rights, social issues and religion. She confesses she isn’t quiet, retiring or timid, even when some people expect her to be.

In the final year of her English Degree, Miriam has a positive message to spread, and she wants as many people to feel accepted by her as she can.

“In my experience, Edinburgh is a city where you definitely have to create your own space, which is something I’m doing at Edinburgh Napier”, she says.
“I am the founder and president of Napier’s first Southern Asian Social Society. I didn’t want to feel like ‘the only’ Asian, so I created a space for us to get together and socialise and create our own authentic narrative, our own student community.” She might have created a space for other Southern Asians, but she’s also become a middle-man of sorts between Southern Asians and people of other backgrounds. Miriam feels strongly about answering any questions that you might have and tries to debunk myths people may have of her culture, to avoid ignorance being manifested within her group of friends and family.

A phrase I’ve heard a lot is ‘You’re not like other Asians’ – as if it’s a compliment to compare me to their distorted view on Asian women?

There’s also the assumption that when I tell people I study English, their first instinct is that I’m learning to speak English, rather than studying English literature. It amazes me how casually I’ve experienced it. It’s really scary, just how integrated it is within us all.”

Instead of scaring Miriam off, these prejudices have encouraged Mirian to make a positive change. She spends a lot of her time highlighting indirect racism and misconceptions on a daily basis, and leaves in her wake a trail of enlightened and more supportive people. When she’s not changing the world for the better, one ignorant person at a time, she’s always got a good Halal restaurant recommendation – “Cheap and Cheerful – Spicy Bite” at Fountain Park. It’s owned by a great family, who really took care of me during my first year! And if you really want to treat yourself, head to Dishoom. When I graduate, you’ll find me there.”

A Red Red Rose Street!

With annual and traditional celebrations being almost here, we are having a look at some different approaches to commemorate the life and art of Scottish biggest poet Robert Burns. They are all free and taking place in Rose Street in Edinburgh. Happy Burns Night!

In The Words of the Bard

The Rose Street has been decorated with Bard’s most loved quotes. Have fun to find them!

Bairns Burns Trail

6 Rabbie Burns inspired pictures have been hidden around Rose Street.  Find them and write down what poem they represent.

For our younger bairns, find the letter in each picture and what does it spell?

Handy guides can be picked up from the pop-up Burns Bothy at 116b Rose Street.

Street Burns

Celebrate Robert Burns’ life and work together with local musicians. They decorate the length of Rose St with the sounds of Burns and Scotland inspired tales. Entertaining audiences are traditional Scottish musicians: Tina Avery, Richard Jenkins, Calum Baird, Aaron Wright, Puddin n Mash, Euan Fleming, Erin & Briony and Greg Aiken.

Braw Burns

Wee ones will be encouraged to sing and create music together in a friendly, supportive environment, learning a classic Burns lament. This is unticketed, free and drop in – first come, first served.

Age: 6 month to 4 years

Side Burns



Scotland is More Creative than You might Think – Here’s Why


It could be said that when it comes to the creative industries, Scotland shouts the loudest. Being one of the most vocal opponents of the recent cuts to school arts programs, it is no secret that we are protective over our cultural name. But sometimes the most unique of creative spaces in Scotland are the ones hidden away in the shadows, so we thought we would shed some light on them.

Creative Edinburgh is a name that might not be familiar to you – but its one that will be on the tip of everyone’s tongue pretty soon. With initiatives set up all over the world, Creative Edinburgh was started by a power team consisting of Janine Matheson, Holly Wesley and Rachel Arthur and has been growing ever since. It is the largest network of creatives in Edinburgh and serves to fund creative endeavours and support local entrepreneurs. They host regular “Creative Mornings” with inspirational, motivational speakers whose videos can also be found on their Vimeo channel. With funding for the arts decreasing all over the UK, this kind of initiative is vital for the future of Scotland’s culture.

Another creative space with a twist is The Edinburgh Remakery, a retail space that describes itself as “promoting a sustainable, zero waste culture based in the heart of Leith,” it is a combination of Edinburgh’s vibrant creative aesthetic and its renowned environmentally friendly reputation. They are a company taking donations of old furniture and knick-knacks, transforming them and reworking them. It is a green way to think and a unique way to reuse perfectly viable objects you would otherwise dump in the skip.

Proof of Scotland’s popularity for creatives is all around – in Glasgow, especially. Caitlin McKenna is a artist that hails from Boston, Massachusetts and has planted herself in Scotland to launch her modern calligraphy shop, Brahmin Lettering Co. She is currently opening a shop in Edinburgh where examples of her work can be found in an artisanal, unique space.

There is so much more to explore in Edinburgh’s creative world, but these are just a starting point for showcasing modern millennial Scottish culture.


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.”

Top five spots to try at the Edinburgh Restaurant Fest

Over the past decade or so, restaurants have been popping up all over Edinburgh and the city is becoming increasingly popular for fine cuisine. So it’s no wonder that it now has its own festival to celebrate that – the Edinburgh Restaurant Festival is running throughout October and celebrating the vast array of eateries the city has to offer. But with so much choice, how does one select somewhere to sample the best of Auld Reekie? Good thing we’ve written this Top 5 for you and whatever you might be in the mood for.

  1. The Outsider


Photo credit:

Sat along the George IV Bridge, this restaurant attracts the sort of crowd who might be discussing Joyce or Camus over sea bream and a glass of woody Merlot. Quiet, classy and candlelit, it has been a popular place for citizens looking for somewhere away from the crowds and is spacious enough that it feels cosy rather than crowded. You’re best booking a table in advance, though, because this restaurant’s excellent food and service are no little secret.

   2. Bread Meats Bread


Photo Credit: lunch

A Top 5 wouldn’t be complete without a burger, so here’s our pick of Edinburgh’s vast selection. It opened its first branch in Glasgow and opened one is Edinburgh last year. Since then it has become massively popular, particularly for students looking to crack open a couple of beers and relax after class. Get ready to wait though, this place is really too small for its popularity so there’s usually a queue. However, once you get sitting down the great service and food is most definitely worth it.

   3. Vittoria


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If you’re looking for the best Italian food in Edinburgh, look no further than Vittoria on Leith Walk. With neon light fixtures and mirrored walls, it can feel more like an ’80s disco than somewhere to eat tagliatelle, but make no mistake: this is authentic Italian dining at its finest. Partner up with a friend and get the “Meta Meta”, where you can order to dishes between you to try out. But if you’re a veteran of Italian food, you can’t really go wrong.

4. Salt Cafe


Photo credit: lunch

Currently serving the Morningside crowd its daily bread, Salt Cafe is a relatively new addition to the long list of brunch places popping up around the area. You can order eggs done any way you like, on bacon, smoked salmon or avocado. If you’re looking to dine for Sunday brunch, get there a bit early, as this place is usually full to the brim.

   5. The Kitchin


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Of course, it would be remiss not to mention this famed Michelin-starred restaurant situated on Commercial Street. Opened in 2006 by Tom and Michaela Kitchen, the decor itself is a sight to behold. Leith might not be where you expect one of the most exclusive restaurants in the city to be, but the area has, in recent years, become a hive for fine Scottish cuisine.

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