Rare pieces displayed at Mary Queen of Scot’s exhibition

 

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The exhibition has a copy of the 2019 movie script. (Credit: Daisy Smith)

Rare treasures are being displayed for two days only at a Mary Queen of Scot’s exhibition in Edinburgh.

The exhibition showcases pieces from throughout the ages from childhood letters, to copies of movie scripts, including that of the 2019 release starring Saoirse Ronan.

The film has catapulted Mary Queen of Scot’s back into popularity since its release into cinemas.

Visitors will be able to cast their eyes on Mary’s Great Seal, a childhood book and engravings of her execution.

The display will run today and tomorrow at the National Library marking the anniversary of her execution on February 8, 1587.

Dr Annette Hagen, curator at the National Museum, said of the exhibition:

“One of the highlights is the sequence of engravings we have of her execution because today is the actual anniversary of the execution.

“The big thing about today is that we are showing them in one place and people can come and get some interpretation from them. The rarest pieces are obviously the unique items and that is the letters.

“We have a letter she wrote at the age of 11 to her mother Mary of Guise and we are showing the very last letter she wrote six hours before her beheading her brother in northern France.”

An array of historic sites from across the country with links to Mary Queen of Scots will be showcased in a tourism campaign following the popularity of the 2019 film.

An interactive map has been created featuring 19 different locations which were either visited by Mary, or by the moviemakers. This includes her birthplace of Linlithgow and Holyrood House, where she lived in the 1560s.

The exhibition is free to the public and is open today and Saturday, February 9th at the National Museum of Scotland from 10 am until 4 pm.

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.”

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.

Rip It Up – Inside the Simple Minds of Scotland’s Musical Geniuses

When thinking of popular music in Scotland, what comes to mind? Does one wonder about those extra 500 miles you’d be willing to walk just to be the man who walks a thousand miles to fall down at your door?

Maybe you reminisce about being around loved ones belting out Loch Lomond Hogmonay or the Paulo Nutinis and Simple Minds of the world come to mind. These are all great examples of what makes music in Scotland great, but they are just a few drops in a great ocean of musical magic, and diving beneath the surface reveals a vast magnitude of songs, genres and artists dating back to the dance hall days of the 1930’s. Enter Rip It Up, an exhibition celebrating Caledonian musical creativeness.

Working alongside BBC Scotland, the National Museum of Scotland has put together an exhibition that takes audiences on a journey through popular music history in Scotland. One of the foremost surprises about this exhibit is discovering all of the bands and artists that were born in Caledonia. It may surprise fans of legendary Australian rockers AC/DC  to learn that the iconic Young brothers were born in Cranhill, Glasgow, alongside original singer Bon Scott, who grew up in Ayr.

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AC/DC Guitarist Angus Young, who was born in Glasgow. Photo by Ed Vill.

Walking through the decades, this exhibit features many interactive portals, from jukeboxes to music videos, giving the visitor a chance to learn about the early days of Scottish folk, with key figures such as Hamish Imlach, to Billy Connelly’s short-lived group The Humblebums. 

Scotland is a great ocean of musical magic, and diving beneath the surface reveals a vast magnitude of songs, genres and artists dating back to the dance hall days of the 1930’s.

As the exhibition travels forward in time, the faces and names become more recognisable. Instruments and memorabilia from bands who became successful worldwide are proudly displayed behind thick glass and “no photography allowed” signs, from custom Bay City Rollers guitars to the sunglasses Ultravox singer Midge Ure wore during the iconic Live Aid event. It features striking visuals, from old punk rock posters to stadium gigs projected on walls, and the ever-changing playlist of great Scots artists, from In a Big Country to Many of Horror.

Rip-It-Up curator Stephen Allan explains why it is relevant to start at the very beginning and work towards where we are now in music history: “Between the objects, the AV and the music, people will be able to learn more about their favourite artists and see their treasured objects up close, but also to discover music that is new to them in a whistlestop tour of over six decades of Scottish pop.”  

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Musical Scots legends Simple Minds. photo by Stefan Brending

Many of the artists included in the exhibit were interviewed and feature on various videos played there. A continuous theme that emerges from these interviews is the sense of community and respect bands had for one another. Anyone who has lived in Scotland will be painfully aware of the cold, wet nights that can plague many of our months. Along with boredom, unemployment and creative energy, this seems to have sparked many bands that started in the working man’s clubs of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and went on to perform on the prominent stages all over the world.

Allan explains why this exhibit will relate to a wide audience: “Popular music is a shared experience and a really important one in many people’s lives. We want the exhibition to capture people’s imagination and allow them to reflect on their own experiences of listening to and enjoying music.”

Shirley Manson from the bands Garbage and Goodbye McKenzie applauds the National Museum of Scotland for recognising the depth and influence of Scottish artists: “Scotland has long deserved an examination of its rich musical heritage, the effects of which can be heard all over our globe today. While music is universal, and Garbage is an international band, being Scottish is a large part of who I am and has had a huge bearing on my work and our career.”

Scotland has inspired many bands that started in the working man’s clubs of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and went on to perform on the prominent stages all over the world.

A visit to this exhibit is essential for any young musician looking to turn their talent into a lifelong adventure or for the die-hard music fans who grew up with posters of these musicians hanging on their bedroom walls. Those who came before, and continue to create, are all represented under the banner of creative Caledonia. The exhibit will close on November 25, so be sure to catch it, before they rip it up and start again.

More Information on Rip It Up can be found here

As well as the main exhibition itself, students from our very own Napier University will be performing a night of Scottish songs from artists featured at Rip It Up, on Thursday 25th October. Tickets for the event, held at Summerhall, can be found here

 

There’s a new photography Crew in town

Photography is floundering in the wake of iPhone amateurs, but Edinburgh based talent agency Crew Ltd are on their way to bringing professionalism back.

Scottish visual art agency Crew Ltd held an exhibition in Summerhall last night, showcasing personal works of some of the country’s most talented professional photographers. They said:

We wanted to showcase our photographers in a more relaxed atmosphere. The exhibition was a selection of personal works from our established clients, alongside a glimpse of our rising stars too.

Crew Ltd tackles the under-representation of local freelancers. Their live app is the first of its kind in Scotland. Acting as a digital talent agent, the app has built a community of like-minded professionals; providing them with anaccessible platform from which to network their brand, control their finances and get their work out there. They added:

Companies like us are crucial to the industry. We need to bridge the gap between education and employment, innovating the mindset of the trade and redefining what is expected as a professional in the industry today.

The folios on show last night covered a vast number of genres and styles. Allowing the artists to exhibit whatever they wished made for an endearing visual representation of heart, humour and intellect.

Sam Sill’s Folio. Credit: Mairi Mulhern

Sam Sills is Burma born and Scottish bred. She explored her heritage in Myanmar for the first time last year, seeing and feeling it through her lens.

She says commercial photography can be restrictive, so having the opportunity to share this personal story through Crew last night was refreshing, she said:

Doing your own stuff is self-fulfilling anyway, but when someone like Crew lets you showcase it in this setting, it’s refreshing – like you’re baring your heart and your soul! I love it.

Jodie Mann keeps professional fashion photography glitzy and glamorous for her clients. However, in her spare time she blends commissioned work with her personal creativity to invent obscure, gloomy and dystonia pieces of art. She said:

Commissioners in the fashion industry don’t want personal work in a professional exhibition, so Crew are doing something quite out of the ordinary by merging the two and giving me freedom to open up myself, as opposed to just opening up my folio.

Jodie Mann with some of her work. Credit: Mairi Mulhern

Crew Ltd have a mindset that is refreshing for Scottish photography. Blending the professional with the personal and the work with the play, in this case, has worked to create something new. A heaviness is lifted to leave only art. Modern art.

Twenty years of magic in Edinburgh

People all across Edinburgh can look forward to celebrating all things magical over the coming weeks after the release of the brand new Harry Potter exhibition at Edinburgh Central library.

The Harry Potter: A History of Magic display commemorates the 20th anniversary of the first book in J.K Rowling’s immensely popular series.

The exhibit launched simultaneously with 20 other public libraries across the UK, running in parallel to the flagship exhibition at the British Library in London.

Fans of ‘The Boy Who Lived’, both young and old, can view specially designed panels featuring images of rare books, manuscripts and ‘magical’ objects featuring at the British Library.

The spellbinding exhibition celebrates 20 years of ‘The Boy Who Lived.’

The displays also include images of materials from J.K Rowling and Bloomsburg’s personal collections.

Edinburgh’s historic connections with magic will also be showcased and will include rare books from the Royal Observatory, examples of magical herbs from the Royal Botanical Gardens and other marvellous examples from the Central Libraries personal collection.

The library is just one of many locations celebrating the book’s anniversary.

A series of other Potter themed events will also be taking place across the city over the next few months.

The events range from magic school tutorials, magical stage make-up lessons, visits by Hedwig and Pigwidgeon look-alikes from the Scottish Owl Centre, as well as special events at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Councillor Ian Perry, Education, Children and Families Convener, praised the library’s spellbinding display:

“This fantastic display is set to capture the minds of Harry Potter fans young and old, so we’re extremely pleased to be working with the British Library to bring its magic to the capital, which has such a strong connection to the stories.”

Full details for events available online or by calling your local library.

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