Last week I decided to take a spontaneous trip to Edinburgh to go and see some of the Edinburgh International Book Festival and some of the Edinburgh Art Festival. I managed to jam pack my day full of events and exhibitions and had an amazing time, so I thought I would share it.
It was quite an early start, which I haven’t been very used to of late but it was well worth it. First stop was The Fruitmarket Gallery, to see an exhibition by Damián Ortega.
States of Time is an exploration of how the forces of nature – wind, water, earth and fire – act on the earth both independently of and in relationship to humankind. Ortega uses clay to form waves, sculpt icebergs and to track the eroding power of a river on a sequence of plains made from brick. He shows us the sculptural agency of nature and also of mankind, looking at how the landscape has shaped itself but also at how mankind’s attempts to harness the land to our own purpose have played a part in the state of the world now.
It was a nice change to see sculptural pieces exhibited, I haven’t been to an exhibition that wasn’t just work on the walls for a while and I forgot how enjoyable it is to walk between the artwork. My favourites out of the pieces were Icebergs, which really stood out because they had been painted and glazed, when I first saw them I actually thought they were coral because of their twisting shapes and the holes and pockets, that you can peer into to see different textures in the clay.
Altocumulus was another, which I think worked really well in the space, you could see it as you went up the stairs to the upper gallery and then could walk around it. I could see different shapes forming depending on what angle I was looking at it from, so it always gave a different impression.
Atmospheric Pressure I liked for the same reason as Altocumulus, except I could get up close to these and walk in between them. In the picture if you squint hard enough you can just about see Tripas de Gato as well, hand drawn lines on the wall that looks like a topographic map, which has a really interesting story behind it.
I then made my way to the Book Festival ground in Charlotte Square, I had a bit of time before my first event so, of course, found myself browsing through the Festival bookshop. I managed to contain myself and held back from buying any books at this point, it was a struggle though! I had chosen my events at the Book Festival on a bit of a whim, mostly due to their description on the website, I’m glad I managed to pick ones that were all interesting and that I enjoyed.
Tiffany Watt Smith, The Encyclopedia of Emotions was first, which was discussing her book The Book of Human Emotions. This talk was extremely insightful, a dialogue of language, culture and emotion and how these also have fashions. I can’t remember what time period she mentioned specifically but at one point sadness was in vogue, people would open themselves up to others sorrow and make a point of thinking about things that would make them feel sad as it made you appear more dependable and loyal. It was also so that when something happened to you that would make you sad you were already familiar with it and could bear it easier. These days the more in vogue emotion is happiness and these traits are placed upon it, so that people feel the need to portray it to be accepted.
Another really interesting story that she told us was that a very long time ago, say the 1600’s, a young man had gone to university and after a while he started to feel a little unwell. As the weeks and months went on he kept getting worse, eventually hospitalised, it got to the stage where they knew he wasn’t going to make it, so they decided to take him home for him to pass in peace. However as they got closer to his hometown they noticed that he was showing some signs of improvement and eventually after a while of being back he started to recover. He was diagnosed with Nostalgia, taken from the Greek nostos = homecoming and algos = pain, a.k.a homesickness! There were many cases of people dying from nostalgia; the last recorded death from it was in 1918. It’s so funny that a word that used to be a fatal diagnosis is now usually associated with something that you look back on fondly.
After a spot of lunch, I made my way to Dovecot Gallery. I hadn’t realised but as well as their festival exhibition they were also hosting Dazzle Contemporary Jewellery Exhibition. There was some amazing jewellery displayed however here are a few of my favourites:
Dovecot’s festival offering was The Scottish Endarkenment a group exhibition of forty artists including David Shrigley, Joyce Cairns and Ian Hamilton Finlay.
The exhibition explores a wide range of disturbing and provocative topics, from ever-escalating international conflict, social inequality and unrest, gender identity and sexual prejudice – all fired by the dialectical struggles within the Scottish psyche between good and evil, Self and the Other. All these subjects are imaginatively treated within a variety of different interpretations and mediums – from the out-and-out horrific to the darkly satirical.
There were so many different styles in this exhibition, a little bit of something for everyone but the pieces that stood out to me were Alison Watt’s Black Star which I thought was really beautiful in it’s simpicity.
Alison Watt, Black Star, 2012.
Jock McFadyen’s Carlton Hill, it was definitely the contrast of the moon in the sky that drew me in but actually seeing the texture of the moon is what kept me coming back to look at this piece.
Jock McFadyen, Carlton Hill, 2014.
Kenneth Dingwall’s Between Dark and Dark, again this piece was very simple in style but actually really vibrant, it kept catching my eye.
Kenneth Dingwall, Between Dark and Dark, 1977.
I think that’s enough to digest for now but you’ll be able to check out part two in a few days…
Damián Ortega, States of Time is showing at The Fruitmarket Gallery until the 23rd October 2016, as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival.
Edinburgh International Book Festival is running until the 29th August 2016 with lots of different talks and events each day and a massive bookshop!!
Dazzle is at Dovecot Gallery until the 29th of August 2016.