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Edinburgh Art Festival Announces 2017 Exhibition Programme

Press Release 

Edinburgh Art Festival (EAF), the largest annual festival of visual art in the UK, is delighted to announce details of its 14th edition, including partner exhibitions and pop-up events by contemporary and modern artists from the UK and beyond. This year, as Edinburgh celebrates its 70th anniversary as a Festival City, EAF and partners will present over 45 exhibitions across more than 35 venues, combining ambitious presentations of Scottish and international contemporary art with important survey shows, across the capital’s leading galleries and museums as well as site-specific pop-ups and artist-run spaces.


Highlights of the 2017 programme include:

  • Exhibitions of work by internationally recognised artists, including Jac Leirner at The Fruitmarket Gallery; Pablo Bronstein at Jupiter Artland; Ed Ruscha at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; and Patrick Staff at Collective.
  • Solo presentations by some of Scotland’s leading artists, including Douglas Gordon and Graham Fagen at Scottish National Portrait Gallery; Stephen Sutcliffe at Talbot Rice Gallery; and winner of the 2016 Margaret Tait Prize, Kate Davis, at Stills.
  • Significant survey and historical shows including an overview of British Realist Painting at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; a celebration of the great landscape painters John Constable and William McTaggart at the Scottish National Gallery; the largest exhibition in 70 years about the Jacobites at the National Museum of Scotland;  and works by Hanna Tuulikki and Fiona Mathison in an exhibition exploring the history and cultural identity of women expressed in their work in textile at Dovecot Gallery. Additionally, in the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh as The Festival City and the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, City Art Centre will celebrate Edinburgh’s history through an A-Z tour of their collection.
  • Key figures in the history of photography are explored at The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, with a major exhibition of the work of Crimean war photographer Roger Fenton; plus an exploration of duo Hill & Adamson at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
  • Significant group exhibitions including the inaugural exhibition in the six-part series of NOW at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, with work by Mona Hatoum, Rivane Neuenschwander and Nathan Coley; pairings of artists at Ingleby to celebrate their 20th anniversary; and Edinburgh Printmakers’ New Edition, with work by Museums Press, Poster Club and Emer Tumilty.
  • Presentations of contemporary artists working in expanded contexts include new commissions from Laura Aldridge, Bobby Niven and Oliver Osborne alongside rarely seen archival material at Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh; new work from Charlotte Barker at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop; Sue Jane Taylor at the National Museum of Scotland; Thought Collider at New Media Scotland; and a collaborative project centered around the work of Melbourne-based writer Jessica Yu, leading to the establishment of an in-gallery press at Rhubaba.
  • Emerging Scottish artists will also be showcased across the city, including Ross Little at Collective, Jacob Kerray at Talbot Rice Gallery, Marco Giordano and Pester & Rossi at Jupiter Artland; MA degree show at Edinburgh College of Art; and a series of artists in residence at The Number Shop.

    Sorcha Carey, Director of Edinburgh Art Festival, said:
    “As Edinburgh celebrates 70 years of festival culture, our festival continues to bring together the city’s leading museums and galleries in a unique celebration of the very best of visual art. With exhibitions across the length and breadth of the city – the vast majority of which are free – Edinburgh Art Festival offers an unrivalled opportunity to immerse yourself in art drawn from across the world and the centuries, stretching from Caravaggio and Constable, by way of Turner Prize winners, to the most exciting recent graduates making art today.”

    Amanda Catto, Head of Visual Arts at Creative Scotland, said:
    “The launch of the Edinburgh Art Festival programme is always an exciting moment and with an impressive range of exhibitions and activities taking place across the city, there is something for everyone to enjoy. As Edinburgh celebrates 70 years as a festival city, the Edinburgh Art Festival continues to make a significant contribution to Scotland’s cultural landscape and demonstrates the quality and vitality of our visual arts sector.”

    Councillor Richard Lewis, Edinburgh's Festivals and Events Champion, said:
    “Maintaining its title as the UK’s largest annual festival of visual art, the Edinburgh Art Festival will deliver a staggering programme celebrating the 70th anniversary year of the Festival City. The City of Edinburgh Council has championed the Edinburgh Art Festival since it was established and is delighted to continue its support this summer. The 2017 programme will feature artworks from all corners of the globe, spanning the city’s many galleries, museums, unique and unusual spaces. This year, I’m especially excited to see the city’s collection drawn together at our superb City Art Centre. Edinburgh Alphabet: an ‘A-Z’ of the city’s collection will celebrate the history of the city and people through its vast collection of objects and art. The Edinburgh Art Festival remains a key platform for early career artists, helping to promote the vital and lasting role the arts play in Edinburgh and Scotland. I am looking forward to experiencing the work of emerging artists at the Talbot Rice Gallery, Number Shop and Jupiter Artland amongst others. This programme is not to be missed.”

Significant Scottish and International Contemporary Artists

The 2017 programme will feature work by an array of internationally-renowned names, including a solo exhibition of work by Brazilian artist Jac Leirner at The Fruitmarket Gallery. The artist will be presenting new work created especially for the gallery which will include sculptures made from ropes, spirit levels, rolling papers and rulers, alongside a new series of watercolours – Leirner’s first paintings  – and recent work on loan from major institutions. The Argentine artist Pablo Bronstein will realise his most ambitious outdoor work to date at Jupiter Artland, creating The Rose Walk: a connected pavilion structure, created in both Gothic and Chinoises Revival styles, met through a 25m rose garden. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art will present a selection of works by the influential American artist Ed Ruscha, held in the ARTIST ROOMS collection, which the Gallery owns jointly with Tate; the exhibition will explore the artist's fascination with West Coast American culture including a photographic series, paintings, and drawings dating from the 1960s to 2000. Interdisciplinary artist Patrick Staff will develop a new Observer’s Walk at Collective; an audio guide for Calton Hill that will reflect on social concerns such as sex, gender and the construction of community.

There will also be a roster of solo exhibitions of work by leading Scottish artists at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, with a presentation of new work by Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon, alongside Graham Fagen’s 2015 Scotland + Venice work, The Slaves Lament, on show in Edinburgh for the first time. Talbot Rice Gallery will present Stephen Sutcliffe: Sex Symbols in Sandwich Signs, with new work by the artist, exploring themes of identity, self-doubt, obsession, cultural constructs and class conflict.

The inaugural exhibition of the NOW series at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art will open this spring: a three-year programme of six exhibitions that will take over the entire ground floor of the Gallery’s Modern One building. Showcasing some of the most exciting artists of today, the first exhibition will include three rooms of new and recent work by Nathan Coley and explore the theme of place in the work of other artists such as Mona Hatoum, Rivane Neuenschwander and Tessa Lynch. To celebrate the gallery’s 20th anniversary, Ingleby will present a sequence of pairings of artists from March 2017 and ending, where it began, one year later in and per se and, presenting three pairings this summer. Additionally, Edinburgh Printmakers will open New Edition this festival, featuring the new wave of artists born in the 1970s/80s working collaboratively, including newly commissioned print works by Museums Press, Poster Club and Emer Tumilty.

Art Historical and Survey Exhibitions

In the Festival City’s 70th year, and Scotland’s Year of History Heritage and Archaeology, partner institutions are reflecting on this, looking back to the 20th century and beyond, and celebrating key moments by presenting significant art historical and survey exhibitions. The National Museum of Scotland will be highlighting the 17th century by exploring the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites through the largest exhibition of its kind in over 70 years. Presenting a detailed illustration of a particularly turbulent time, the survey will feature material from National Museums Scotland’s significant collection, as well as treasures from across the UK and France. Dovecot Gallery will present the story of the key women weavers and artists who have contributed to Dovecot Tapestry Studio’s history. Contemporary pieces such as Diagrams of Love: Marriage of Eyes by Linder and work by Fiona Mathison and Hanna Tuulikki, will be shown alongside key historical works to provide an overview of work created by women artists, investigating the history and cultural identity of women expressed in their work in textile.

A survey of British Realist painting in the 1920s and 1930s at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art will rediscover an extraordinary, often side-lined generation of artists who worked in a realist vein between the wars. It will bring together 70 works by some 50 artists such as Stanley Spencer and James Bateman. Beyond Caravaggio at the National Gallery of Scotland will chart the revolution in painting sparked by one of the world’s most celebrated (and notorious) artists, bringing an impressive group of paintings by Caravaggio and his followers to Scotland for the first time. The gallery will also show one of the greatest masterpieces of British art: Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, 1831, by John Constable, in dialogue with one of the most powerful and celebrated Scottish landscape paintings: William McTaggart’s The Storm. City Art Centre will be celebrating all of Edinburgh and its history through Edinburgh Alphabet, an ‘A-Z’ of the city’s combined museum and gallery collections linking to the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Photography and Film

Several galleries will focus on photography this summer. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery will explore the unique partnership of Scottish pioneers David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, whose remarkable contribution to photography, and impressive body of work produced in the four short years between 1843 and 1847, has had an unparalleled impact on the medium. 100 of their most significant images will be on show. The Victorian photographer Roger Fenton will be the subject of an exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse this summer, where Fenton’s powerful images of the Crimean war, which showed the public the impact and senselessness of the war for the first time, will be shown alongside the backdrop of highlighted newspaper reports and materials. Alongside this in Edinburgh, Stills will present Kate Davis’ first solo exhibition in Edinburgh, including the first showing of her new film, commissioned after Davis won the Margaret Tait Award in 2016.

The Best of the Next Generation and Mid-Career Artists

This summer’s festival will also see presentations of contemporary artists working in expanded contexts; the exhibition at Inverleith House will explore perceptions of the exotic and attitudes towards collecting, through rarely seen archival plans, paintings and photographs presented in specially commissioned contextual frameworks by artists including Laura Aldridge, Bobby Niven and Charlie Billingham. Charlotte Barker’s exhibition at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop maintains many of the idiomatic elements that are associated with ceramics whilst exploring their sculptural potential. In the new Alt-w LAB at the City Art Centre, New Media Scotland mounts the first UK exhibition of work by Thought Collider, where Susana Cámara Leret and Mike Thompson’s artwork explores metabolic processes, bodies and spaces; and Rhubaba will present a polyvocal project centring around the work of Melbourne-based writer Jessica Yu. Scottish artist Sue Jane Taylor’s paintings from offshore oil platforms bring a unique perspective to the relationship between art, the environment, and industry at the National Museum of Scotland.

Alongside leading international artists, each year, the EAF partner exhibitions programme proudly features work by a selection of the next generation of artistic talent. The work of Glasgow School of Art graduate Ross Little will be presented at Collective as part of their Satellites Programme, tracing globalised labour found across shipbreaking yards in India and transatlantic cruise ships; Talbot Rice Gallery will feature Jacob Kerray in their TRG3 space; and The Number Shop will showcase their studio residents in MELON - a series of 5 week-long exhibitions, exploring themes from nationalism and border control to superheroes. Edinburgh College of Art will present its annual Masters show, featuring new work and performances in art, design, architecture, landscape architecture, composition and sound design. At Jupiter Artland, the Glasgow-based artist Marco Giordano will present his first outdoor commission, featuring an avenue of sculptures showering a mist of water across the path up to the Steadings; plus an overnight performance by duo Ruby Pester and Nadia Rossi, with guests PAULINE and Fallopé & the Tubes on the penultimate night of the festival.

Pop-Up Exhibitions and Events

In addition to the exhibitions across and within Edinburgh’s galleries and museums, this year’s programme also includes a host of pop-up exhibitions and events participating in the festival. The programme includes a playful exhibition centred around audience by the collective ‘Pauline and The Matches’ at Custom Lane, and the return of Deveron Projects with a screening of Syrian-German artist Manaf Halbouni's What If?, a project starting in Huntly this spring in which Manaf is working with local communities and recently resettled Syrian refugees in Aberdeenshire. The Travelling Gallery and Glasgow Woman’s Library will present a joint exhibition by Glasgow-based artist Lauren Printy Currie, while Place + Platform will showcase Reject, Respond, Re-purpose, a site-specific exhibition exploring and responding to abandoned thrift shop art. A449 Architects will present their first major exhibition Eh? Whats this?, where four Scotland based contemporary artists, Sam Adamson, Lachlan McFeely Bolt, Harriet Morley and Rachael Simpson will respond both collaboratively and independently to the surrounding community of Portobello, and artist Yvonne Buskie will collaborate with five artists from different disciplines during a one-month residency at St Margaret's House to create an evolving and living exhibition, to include performance, drawing, film projection, and sculptural objects.

In addition, a minibus will leave Edinburgh on the final three Sundays of EAF to go to Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden Little Sparta and Crawick Multiverse, by Charles Jencks. Telfer Gallery artist in residence Leontios Toumpouris will collaborate with artist-filmmaker Maria Anastassiou to present a choreographed screening of performance, film and expanded cinema by filmmakers and artists. Female filmmaker collective Ethel Maude will present ‘Episodes’, an online episodic film piece released weekly during the festival, designed to be viewed on personal phones and computers, and the Museum of Childhood will present a site-specific installation of portraiture by Wendy McMurdo Let’s Go to a Place. The Drawing Works presents an exhibition of artists working with drawing at Patriothall Gallery, while Swedish artist Stina Wirfelt will unveil a new film, Rolls and Shutters, recently completed in Craigmillar. Alongside this, the Signet Library will reflect on Czech–French photographer Josef Koudelka's larger-than-life concertina books; a durational installation by Juliana Capes will chart the chewing gum constellations of city centre pavements and culminate in a unique performance; Heather Lander will present Nearer Future, an immersive sonic light sculpture with music by Robert Bentall at Lothian Chambers, in partnership with the Institut Français Écosse; and Leith Creative will present a design charrette, debating cultural regeneration in this area of the city.

The Edinburgh Art Festival 2017 Commissions Programme, presenting new work in public spaces and historic buildings across the city, will be announced at the end of May 2017.

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Notes to Editors:

2017 has been designated the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, a year that will celebrate Scotland’s unique history, heritage and archaeology with a programme of activity aimed at supporting and driving the nation’s tourism and events sector. Themed Years are designed to give Scottish tourism an edge, galvanise partners and create a strong collaborative platform to promote Scotland and its valuable attributes.

Founded in 2004, Edinburgh Art Festival is the UK’s largest annual festival of visual art, bringing together the capital’s leading galleries, museums and artist-run spaces, alongside new public art commissions and an innovative programme of special events in a city-wide celebration of the very best in visual arts. Our 2016 festival attracted just over 308,000 attendances, including a 7% increase in visits to partner exhibitions. Edinburgh Art Festival is a charitable organization supported by Creative Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council. For more information, please visit www.edinburghartfestival.com or follow on Twitter at @EdArtFest

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. Creative Scotland enables people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. Creative Scotland distributes funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative

Scotland please visit: www.creativescotland.com www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland @creativescots

The City of Edinburgh Council is a funding partner for Edinburgh Art Festival. The Council accommodates the organisation at City Art Centre and provides regular use of Trinity Apse and other Council-owned property for festival activities. The Council aims to maintain and build on Edinburgh's reputation as the ideal location for major events and festivals. Working with the city’s cultural sector, the Council’s arts development team ensures that arts play a vital and lasting role in Edinburgh by developing strategic policy, offering advice on cultural projects and awarding cultural grants. 


Core funders

The City of Edinburgh Council 
Creative Scotland 


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