This August, while taking a pause from all those comedy and theatre shows, or while fighting you’re your way across the Royal Mile, take refuge amidst some visual art on display in every corner of the city. While the big names of Impressionism and Surrealism take over the National Galleries, smaller venues and pop ups that you might usually miss are opening their doors to impress the crowds.
Urbane Gallery (Fringe location 107) as a commercial gallery is somewhat unknown to the usual art crawler, but it is none the less joining in with the Fringe spirit in hosting the curated exhibition ‘Absolute Contemporaries’. The public are invited in with the friendly ‘Browsing Welcomed’ painted on the door, so forget the typical intimidation of small, quiet galleries where price tags suggest you are most definitely in the wrong place. A mixture of international artists are on show, hand selected by the gallery organisers, creating art in all media and form. A preference for portraiture seems to link the works.
The street artist Keymi’s soft pastel, kitsch portraits of women with influences of Pop Art are the most successful pieces in the exhibition, and a bit of fun. If you prefer the more traditional, Daniel Sueitas Fanjul uses the format of Old Master portrait painting for the elevation of the portrait of a pig, or a stack of meercats. There is a boldness to all the work on display here, so wander in for a bit of colour.
Just around the corner, for a more tranquil experience, head to St Patrick’s Church. This quiet space is just one of the forty-six venues that are part of the Edinburgh Art Festival (look out for blue and yellow markers or head to the festival Kiosk on Blair Street for more information). In an intimate side room, the Glasgow born artist Roderick Buchanan explores the intertwining of Scottish and Irish public figures through a video portrait of Irish historian Owen Dudley Edwards. This art documentary is over an hour long, but for those with only a little time to spare in this busy month, it is enough to sit for ten minutes to admire the visual beauty in the expressions, gestures and minutiae of a person captured by the artist.
Buchanan is one of seven artists commissioned as part of the Art Festival to create artwork based on the title ‘More Lasting than Bronze’, through varying artistic interventions. So head up to Regent Road to find Jonathan Owen’s re-carving of neo-classical forms, or down to the Prince of Wales Dock to view Ciara Phillips’ Dazzle Ship, commemorating the First World War. These new monuments can be found all over the city.
On a much smaller scale, in the realm of design, Dovecot shows off the up and coming in jewellery design in the yearly showcase Dazzle. Admire beautiful creations before poking your head into the spectacular tapestry studios to see the work of weavers in process. Roles of wool and thread in every shade of colour imaginable line the walls of this old converted swimming pool, the architecture of which is an aesthetic experience in itself.
Finally, Talbot Rice Gallery is host to a small exhibition that is not to be missed. The TRG3 exhibition space that is dedicated to younger, more experimental contemporary artists is transformed into a new reality inspired by science fiction and fantasy novels. The artist Jess Johnson has collaborated with the filmmaker Simon Ward to morph her futuristic, psychedelic drawings into a virtual reality experience. Expect queues and feelings of vertigo.
Image Credit: Dovecot Studio display, byronv2/flickr