Monday, 15 August 2011

Edinburgh Art Festival

UPDATE: 1.1.2012

In retrospect, this post showed serendipity, though how one can measure it is still a subject for discussion.  I am no historian of the stature of those who like to explore the counterfactual, but be that as it may my arrival in the Anton Henning installation led to an appearance on a BBC Radio Scotland Culture Cafe programme, some coverage by the Herald of an Artlink and Talbot Rice Gallery event for the visually impaired, and a mention at the end of the year for the Anton Henning exhibition.  I've also been able to share some of my findings on Frank Stella and Gerhard Richter paintings while aso being part of uncovering some of the treasures elsewhere. 

** end of update

I’ve been travelling around the Edinburgh area and have a couple of visits within the Edinburgh Art Festival to report. 

Firstly, I’m a native of the city and the layout if very familiar to me.  But having said that, once you’re used to the maze of the street pattern in the Old Town, it’s reasonably straightforward – though the pavements and crossings can be awkward on account of the many tourists and ‘street artists’.  If you avoid the High Street, you’ll miss many of these but you might also be missing out on the serendipity that it can bring.  Next, the weather has been appalling, but on Friday the rain stopped, though the sky was very overcast and it wasn’t a good vision day. 

We took an advantage of a new park and ride facility which meant that the car could be left and a bus taken into the city.  We started off at the University of Edinburgh Old College and the Talbot Rice Gallery.  The quadrangle, which is designed by William Henry Playfair (the building is designed by Robert Adam), is well worth a visit though at present there is a lot of building work being done to restore the site to its original plan.  (

The Talbot Rice Gallery is located in the Old College and there are lifts and ramps, so the access should be good.  At the time of our visit there were two exhibitions: one by Anton Henning and the other titled Ragamala of Indian miniature paintings.  There is also a further exhibition from the University’s Torrie Collection.

Anton Henning – Interieur No. 493

The Henning exhibition is very striking and the exhibition staff is extremely helpful in making suggestions after I had pointed out that I could make out quite a lot of some of the exhibits on the way in.  The gallery also has a feature known as Pandora’s Light Box which is being launched (my visit was purely coincidental, as there is a striking poster for the Henning exhibition which drew me in).   I’m not going to try and match the picture with the descriptions which I’m making.  Some of them may be what the artist intended, some might be my perception or even false recollection.   

No 6, titled Evening Song 21.57 hours – lots of blues

No 16, titled Interieur No 476 – lots of colour which I could make out an dsome 3-d effects, which got the attention of my peripheral vision.  This reminded me of the pattern on a bark of a maple tree I found in Kew Gardens.

No 10, Untitled – I could make out the palm trees

All the paintings titled Pin-up were obvious in their detail! 

There were pieces of furniture and sculpture and sound film installations.

In the upstairs gallery, there is a striking stained glass window effect which is the poster which drew me in.  It is stunning, but I can’t really describe it.  It reminded me of my visit to Chichester Cathedral, when I found the Chagall window.  What I really liked about this exhibition was the interest the exhibition manager Hazel and Bobbie, a volunteer, took in asking me how I had found the exhibits.  In fact, the penny didn’t really drop until some of the exhibition notes were read to me after two days of ‘fringe’ activities.  It’s too easy in Edinburgh to go from one event to the other without taking it in, and this is certainly one exhibition where even the carpet is part of the exhibition and there were no alarm bells ringing as I swept through the gallery with my white stick.  The blurb on the artist describes this as a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art), which sounds as if it could be a bit Wagnerian.  Tip: ask where the free posters are, so that in the spirit of the gallery and exhibition you can ‘roll your own’ poster!

Ingrid Calame at The Fruitmarket Gallery

This gallery is next to Edinburgh Waverley station in what used to be the old fruitmarket.  If you exit via the Market St exit, it’s a short walk.  Once you are inside the gallery, there is a striking wall to floor installation by Ingrid Calame using Mylar (architectural tracing paper).  I was informed of this by one of the assistants who was probably trying to steer me away from what is a fragile part of the exhibit on the floor (note – at this point I was not aware that the carpet at the Talbot Rice Gallery had been part of the installation and you may recall my description of an installation at St Albans by Aviva where I was able to use the white stick within the installation).  The assistant explained all the exhibits in the gallery and though I couldn’t make much of the striking entry wall to floor work, the smaller works in the gallery, particularly the enamel pigment on aluminium were striking.  I made a mental note of one of them and we’ve managed to find it on the internet, and it is one of the few pieces of red (I think) which is quite vivid.

puEEP, 2001

It must have something to do with the wavelength as usually I am sound on yellows and blues, though red and greens can appear to be the same.  This red enamel work has given me ideas for trying some of this out.  I’ve tried this out with spray cans of metallic paint and primary colours, but I think a blow torch and some real enamel sounds the ticket! 

The staff at the Fruitmarket Gallery were again very helpful and I got a couple of postcards.