News - Edinburgh Art Festival

Edinburgh Art Festival announces its 2018 Partner Exhibition Programme...

Press Release

Edinburgh Art Festival, the only major annual festival dedicated to the visual arts within the UK, is delighted to announce the first details of its 15th edition, bringing together the capital’s leading galleries, museums and artist-run spaces in a city-wide celebration of the very best in visual art. This year, the partner programme will present over 36 exhibitions across more than 25 venues, combining ambitious presentations of Scottish and international contemporary art with landmark art historical survey shows and newly commissioned work across the capital’s leading galleries and museums.

Sorcha Carey, Director of Edinburgh Art Festival, said, “Our Festival’s origins lie in the strength of Edinburgh’s year-round visual arts scene. As we enter our 15th edition, this year’s partner exhibitions continue to demonstrate the ambitious and inspiring programming that has shaped our Festival from its inception.”

This year’s exhibition programme will feature major presentations by esteemed contemporary artists such as Tacita Dean, Jenny Saville, Joana Vasconcelos, Lucy Skaer and Victoria Crowe. Landmark surveys of major figures in the history of art will include the largest display of work by Canaletto ever to be shown in Scotland, an exploration of the extraordinary impact of Rembrandt’s work in Britain, only to be seen in Edinburgh, and a retrospective of the great German Expressionist painter, Emil Nolde. 2018’s festival will offer the opportunity to see newly commissioned sculptural work by rising stars of contemporary sculpture as well as leading established artists, including Phyllida Barlow, one of the most lauded British sculptors working today.

Amanda Catto, Head of Visual Arts at Creative Scotland, said: “The Festival and its partners bring some of the most interesting and exciting visual art to the city - from the historic to the contemporary, from the well-known names to those who are just emerging. It is a great opportunity for local audiences and summer visitors to enjoy the most diverse range of work - and for this work to have such national and international reach.”

Group exhibitions across the festival will feature work by some of the most respected Scottish and international contemporary artists, with themes of the natural world, our metaphysical relationship to space, landscape and environment, and the deep-seated affective power of place and belonging recurring throughout the Festival’s programme. Major reappraisals of rarely-seen work by Scotland’s historic artists, such as Edwin G. Lucas and John Bellany, will feature at Edinburgh Art Festival this year, and survey shows celebrating the bountiful collections of fine art photography to be found in Scotland will run alongside.

Edinburgh Art Festival will also feature offerings in some of the newest arts spaces opening in the city this year, with Ingleby Gallery and Collective both moving into new sites in 2018. Ingleby, currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, will move into a new and impressive venue in the newly refurbished Meeting House of the Glasite Church in May 2018. Collective are currently restoring the iconic City Observatory site on Calton Hill which will open to the public this year for the first time in its history and will feature a new exhibition space built into the hillside.

Councillor Donald Wilson, Edinburgh’s Culture and Communities Convener, said: “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 2018 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 newly commissioned work from rising stars and a significant display of work by solo female artists. 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. We are proud to be home to one of the biggest celebrations of visual arts in the UK, which welcomes people of all nationalities and backgrounds, and this year’s theme looking at our place in the world and belonging feels particularly pertinent.”


Major Solo Presentations by Female Artists

The 2018 edition of Edinburgh Art Festival will present an impressive selection of celebratory solo shows of work by contemporary female artists, many with rich and longstanding connections to the artistic community of Scotland.

A highlight of the 2018 programme will be Fruitmarket Gallery’s presentation of work by acclaimed British artist Tacita Dean. Following three major institutional shows in London this Spring, looking at the themes of landscape, portrait and still life. Fruitmarket’s presentation will bring Dean’s work to Scotland, taking performance as its focus. The exhibition will examine the manner in which Dean has explored narrative, the imagination, and the collective effort of artist and audience in film, theatre, drawing and photogravure.

Phyllida Barlow will open Jupiter Artland’s tenth anniversary programme with quarry, a multi-part commission for Jupiter’s woodland comprised of three sculptural objects, each embodying Barlow's trademark textural surfaces. The grouping will feature two trunk-like columns erupting from the landscape that cradle their own 'skyframe', while completing the trio of structures will be a mountainous flight of ruined steps. Gateway, a solo exhibition of work by Portuguese sculptor Joana Vasconcelos will be shown throughout the indoor galleries. Vasconcelos is known for her large-scale surreal works constructed with domestic objects including plastic cutlery, irons, and sanitary products: Carmen Miranda, a large-scale replica of a stiletto shoe, created using stainless steel pans and concrete, will be located in the Ballroom Garden, while a tea-pot shaped work, produced using knitting fabrics and techniques, will be housed in the Steadings Gallery.

Talbot Rice Gallery will produce The Green Man, a major solo exhibition of Scottish artist Lucy Skaer, featuring newly commissioned work alongside recent work never before seen in the UK. Skaer’s work will be shown together with exhibits from invited guests and a selection of objects she has drawn from the University of Edinburgh’s vast collection. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery will open a display of work by renowned Scottish artist Victoria Crowe, exploring her outstanding portraits of figures from the worlds of art and science, while The Scottish Gallery will present an entirely new body of works by Crowe, A Certain Light, focussed on the variability of light in the natural world. Recognising a century of women’s suffrage, the gallery will also present solo exhibitions of Bodil Manz’s porcelain vessels and Catherine Martin’s unique kumihimo finely braided metal pieces.

Significant Reappraisals of 20th Century Scottish Artists

City Art Centre will explore the oeuvre of Scottish painter Edwin G. Lucas in the first ever major exhibition of his work, An Individual Eye. A highly original autodidact, he was born and educated in Edinburgh and the show will be an unmissable reappraisal of Lucas’ life and career, most crucially the lasting impact his encounters with Surrealism had on his boldly experimental work.

Providing an eye-opening counterpoint to An Individual Eye, The Fine Art Society in Edinburgh will present Assemblage, an exhibition focusing on Scottish artists’ contribution to the medium pioneered by Cubism and Surrealism, exploring the significance of found objects and constructed narratives in conveying history and cultural identity. The Fine Art Society, with The Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation, will also hold an exhibition showcasing and responding to six key historic paintings from The Fleming Collection.

Open Eye Gallery will mount John Bellany: The Wild Days, focusing on the artist’s abstract, highly gestural work from the period 1980-89. Recognised as some of the artist’s most challenging output, the majority of work planned for display has rarely been seen before and will present a pivotal moment in the career of arguably one of the most important Scottish artists of the 20th century.

Large-Scale Art Historical and Survey Shows

Edinburgh Art Festival will feature a widespread variety of landmark art historical and survey exhibitions from each of the major museums of Edinburgh. Presenting over 100 paintings, drawings and prints from the Royal Collection’s holdings of 18th century Venetian art, Canaletto & the Art of Venice at The Queen’s Gallery will be the largest exhibition of works by the Venetian master ever to come to Scotland. Rembrandt: Britain’s Discovery of the Master at the Scottish National Gallery will explore the major impact of Rembrandt’s work in this country. This exclusive new exhibition will only be shown in Edinburgh. The evolution of the taste for Rembrandt’s work in Britain, which reached its height in the late-18th century will be revealed, as well as the lasting impact the artist has had on the British artistic imagination right up to the present day.

Continuing this consideration of the Old Masters’ impact on those working today, eight works by the much sought-after, Kashmiri-born artist Raqib Shaw will be on display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Shaw’s work, which has never before been exhibited in Scotland, will be hung alongside two paintings from the gallery’s collection which have long inspired him: Joseph Noel Paton’s The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania (1849) and Lucas Cranach’s An Allegory of Melancholy (1528). In July, the gallery will open Emil Nolde: Colour is Life, comprising around 120 paintings, drawings, watercolours and prints spanning the entire career of one of Germany’s greatest Expressionist artists.

The 2018 edition of Edinburgh Art Festival will see several notable survey exhibitions exploring the importance and enduring legacy of craft and design in Britain. Art of Glass at the National Museum of Scotland in partnership with The National Centre for Craft & Design will consider how Britain has significantly impacted the perceptions of glass as an art form over the past 50 years, as well as the means by which artists today continue to innovatively embrace the medium. A major retrospective celebrating the beloved retailer and design studio Liberty, will go on show at Dovecot Gallery, featuring over 100 garments and fabrics spanning 140 years from one of the most celebrated textile producers in history.

Group Exhibitions featuring Leading International Artists:

Edinburgh Art Festival this year will offer the chance to see work by some of the most well-known international contemporary artists across the city’s galleries. Jacob’s Ladder at Ingleby Gallery will celebrate mankind’s relationship with space and our enduring attempts to fathom the unfathomable. Rare historical materials will be shown alongside works by artists including Alijca Kwade, Cornelia Parker and Katie Paterson to consider the imaginative territory between Earth and the Heavens. Installed in Ingleby’s new space, a former Meeting House for the Glasite brethren, the exhibition will be only the second show in the gallery once it opens in May 2018.

The third instalment of NOW at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art will be a major survey of works by renowned British artist and graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, Jenny Saville, spanning some 25 years of the artist’s career. Alongside Saville’s work, NOW includes work by Sara Barker, Christine Borland, Robin Rhode and Markus Schinwald, further investigating themes of body, performance, process and materiality. City Art Centre will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Travelling Gallery, a contemporary art gallery in a bus that has formed a unique and integral part of Scotland’s cultural offering since the ‘70s, with a major retrospective exhibition over two floors of the space. Artists who have contributed to the Travelling Gallery include Rachel Maclean, Scotland’s exhibiting artist at the 57th Venice Biennale, Turner Prize winner Douglas Gordon, Charles Avery and Christian Marclay, amongst many notable others. Housed within a newly commissioned and site- specific installation in the gallery by Scottish artist Mike Inglis, an active programme of talks and events will provide a platform for broader discussions on the accessibility and diversity of contemporary art in Scotland.

Newly Commissioned Work Exploring the Power of Place, Community and Environment:

Themes of humanity’s universal connection to nature, the elements and our environments will recur throughout many of the presentations at Edinburgh Art Festival this year, with numerous site-specific pieces having been specially commissioned for 2018’s Festival.

Two uniquely cross-cultural projects will explore the connections we form with landscape, and the means by which we experience grounded community through place. Newly commissioned printworks by internationally exhibited artist, writer and curator Ravi Agarwal will be shown at Edinburgh Printmakers. Drawing from his background as an environmental campaigner, Agarwal, who lives and works in New Delhi, has produced new works responding to the challenges posed to urban nature in Scotland, the way wilderness has been depicted visually in Scotland, and current community efforts for rewilding. This will be the penultimate show in Edinburgh Printmakers’ current site before moving into the former North British Rubber Company HQ at Castle Mill Works, which is currently being transformed through a £12.3m redevelopment project. Their future home, and vibrant new creative hub for Edinburgh, is due to open in 2019.

Further reflecting upon the power of psychogeography and the history of place, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop will present newly commissioned work from Birthe Jorgensen, Santiago Poggio and Scott Rogers. The culmination of a six-month international exchange between Argentina and Scotland, the included artists’ practices deal with issues of geographical displacement, environment, heritage, structural power and our relationship with nature. Jorgensen’s work intertwines disparate narratives, places and time frames, speaking to themes of geographical displacement, feminism and environmentalism. Poggio’s work deals with the mechanisms by which the history of the world is constructed, and the systematic structuring of the past, while Rogers’ recent work is focused on encounters between humans, animals, and natural forces, and the implications these encounters have for understanding power, desire, and ecology.

Created in response to the Jupiter Artland site, Ollie Dook will create his first outdoor work, Of Landscape Immersion, reflecting on contained boundaries inspired by zoo enclosures, fabricated microclimates and nature documentary footage. Presented amongst a fabricated sculptural enclosure, the audience will become both observers and spectacle under watch. With the ultimate symbol of marking place being the staking of a flag, these themes come to fruition with Rhubaba’s launch of the first in a series of flag artworks to be flown from a newly installed pole. The inaugural work will be designed by Scottish painter, ECA graduate and Rhubaba studio holder, Rabiya Choudhry.

Photography and Film

The major impact Scottish artists have had to play in the development of fine art photography will be celebrated by In Focus: Scottish Photography at City Art Centre. The exhibition will showcase the CAC’s photographic collections, charting the development of fine art photography in Scotland from the 19th century to present day through a range of historic and contemporary artists, including masters of Scottish photography Hill and Adamson, Thomas Begbi, Joseph McKenzie and Maud Sulter.

Stills Gallery will present a two-part exhibition of the photographs of artist Gunnie Moberg alongside archive material and films by the influential filmmaker and writer Margaret Tait. Coinciding with the centenary of Margaret Tait’s birth, the exhibition reflects Stills’ interest in showcasing work from archives and collections in Scotland and will include rarely seen photographic material on loan from the Orkney Library & Archive. The third in a series of thematic exhibitions exploring the exceptional permanent collection of photography at the National Galleries of Scotland, Planes, Trains & Automobiles will examine, through images by prominent artists such as Alfred G Buckham, Humphrey Spender and Alfred Stieglitz, how photography has been used to chart the technological innovations created by the desire to travel.

Through multichannel video and photography, Dead Images at the Edinburgh College of Art will invite visitors to engage with the legacy and ethics of historic skull collections across Europe. Through the work of Tal Adler and Joan Smith, the exhibition will enliven the work of the College’s TRACES researchers to ask questions regarding shared responsibility, ownership, racial supremacy and colonial authority as well as personhood and consent.

The Best of the Edinburgh’s Fresh Talent

Each year, Edinburgh Art Festival offers surprising, creative and expanded means of encountering work by artists living and making work in the city. This will continue in DOZEN at The Number Shop, where entirely new work, including installation, embroidery, video essays, illustration, and field recordings from the studio’s resident artists will form a rolling group show, with two artists presenting each week for the five weeks of the Festival.

In response to Liberty Art Fabrics & Fashion, emerging artist Lucy Wayman will feature selected works as part of the Dovecot Gallery display. Wayman’s sculptural works revolve around repetitive structures and soft materials and utilise generational craft techniques, such as weaving and macramé.

New work by artist Robert Powell will go on display in Between The Lost Places at The Fine Art Society in Edinburgh. Powell’s minutely detailed etchings and sculptures often depict satirical and dark humoured scenes, referencing art history, literature and modern society. Between The Lost Places is a meditation on real and imagined topographies, cartography and modern travel, but recalls the sensibility of his home city of Edinburgh.

Combining new work from postgraduate students studying Contemporary Art, Illustration, Interdisciplinary Creative Practices and Art, Space & Nature, Edinburgh College of Art will welcome visitors to their campus for a special Edinburgh Art Festival exhibition. Also open on George Street will be a Design Informatics Pavilion, featuring objects and experiences by researchers and students on the Design Informatics Masters programme that invite exploration into the future of technological design. Melanie Gilligan’s dystopian drama, The Common Sense, which tracks the impact of a new immersive technology that enables individuals to tap into the sensation of others over 15 short episodes, will be on view in the College’s West Court for the duration of the Festival. The work is the first acquisition made by the University of Edinburgh’s Contemporary Art Research Collection.

The Edinburgh Art Festival 2018 Commissions Programme, presenting new work in public spaces and historical buildings across the city, will be announced in May 2018.  Keep up to date on the Art Festival website at

Images & info via Creative Scotland 

MELON Slice 5, Fiona Beveridge, 2017. Photo: Alessandro Di Massimo
David Austen, Smoking Moon 02, 2007, Video, 13 minutes
Travelling Gallery Bus
Maud Sulter, Terpsichore, 1989 © Maud Sulter / The Estate of Maud Sulter (Photo: Street Level Photoworks)