Photo: Daniel Padden and Peter Nicholson, Complaints Choir of Chicago, 2007. Credit to Claire Britt


This August, Edinburgh Art Festival (EAF) will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a series of 10 new public art commissions sited across the Festival city. Visitors will encounter site-specific artworks by leading Scottish and international artists throughout Edinburgh, from installations created for some of the city’s most historic landmarks, to works sited in unexpected spaces, including Edinburgh’s famous skyline. Placing cutting-edge contemporary art into the context of this world heritage city, the commissions programme will be supported by a series of special events, tours and one-off performances.

The 2013 festival commissions programme, titled Parley, celebrates art that generates and depends on dialogue for its realisation, offering a site for debate, discussion and exploration. In a year in which Scotland begins to debate its future, Parley takes inspiration from Miralles and Tagliabue, architects of the new Scottish parliament building (also celebrating its 10th year) who devised ‘not a building in a park or a garden but a form for gathering people’.

Highlights will include:

 A new installation by 1997 Turner Prize nominee Christine Borland in collaboration with Brody Condon for the burnt out Watchtower of the New Calton Burial Ground examining ideas of decay and dereliction

 Robert Montgomery’s first major work for Edinburgh since graduating from Edinburgh College of Art in 1999, a new ‘Fire Poem’ sited on The Mound

 Krijn de Koning’s first ever exhibition in the UK, a site specific installation which will transform Edinburgh College of Art’s iconic sculpture court into a specially designed platform for debate and discussion

 Peter Liversidge’s Flags for Edinburgh project, which will encourage Edinburgh’s institutions to replace their usual flags with a simple message of ‘HELLO’ for the duration of the Festival

 The first publicly sited sculpture by one of Scotland’s most exciting young artists, Sara Barker, made for the wooded landscape of Jupiter Artland

The Parley commissioned artists are Christine Borland with Brody Condon, Peter Liversidge, Sarah Kenchington, Ross Sinclair, Robert Montgomery, Katri Walker, Krijn de Koning, Sara Barker, Kenny Watson and Daniel Padden with Peter Nicholson.

Two Parley symposium events have been specially conceived for Krijn de Koning’s installation in Edinburgh College of Art’s Sculpture Court by artists Ross Sinclair and Rachel Maclean.

Sorcha Carey, Director, Edinburgh Art Festival, said:

“Our annual commissions programme has grown to become an essential part of Edinburgh’s summer festival offering. Our 2013 programme, the most ambitious to date, celebrates art’s unique capacity to promote dialogue and debate; and we are particularly excited that this latest edition sees leading and emerging Scottish and international artists collaborate across borders to make new work for Scotland’s extraordinary capital city.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, said:

"The Edinburgh Art Festival is now firmly established as a vital component in the success of Edinburgh’s wider festival programme, encouraging Scots and visitors from around the world to access, experience and celebrate a diverse range of visual art. The 2013 commissions programme will inspire creativity, provoke thought and encourage debate, dialogue and discussion. I am pleased to support Parley through £160,000 from the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund.”

Amanda Catto, Portfolio Manager for Visual Arts at Creative Scotland, said:

“The Edinburgh Art Festival makes dynamic ambitious visual art a vital element of Edinburgh’s summer festivals, and provides an international platform for work which demonstrates the diversity and excitement of the visual arts in Scotland. This year’s superb programme will challenge and engage, spark debate and inspire. Creative Scotland is delighted to continue to support this important festival.”

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland, said:

“Scotland is the perfect stage for events and it is hugely exciting to see these ten new commissions to mark the 10th anniversary of the Edinburgh Art Festival. The festival has grown and developed over the past decade and is now an established part of Edinburgh’s internationally renowned festival offering.”


Christine Borland and Brody Condon | Daughters of Decayed Tradesmen

Within the burnt out Watchtower in New Calton Cemetery, 1997 Turner Prize nominee Christine Borland and Berlin based American performance artist Brody Condon will present new work stemming directly from conversation and collaboration. Considering ideas of decay and dereliction, their jointly authored installation is inspired by oral histories relating to Edinburgh’s Trades Maiden Hospital, the institution founded in 1704 to provide for the ‘board, lodging, clothing and education of the daughters and granddaughters of ‘decayed’ tradesmen’.

Situated in a burial ground itself initiated by the incorporated trades of the Calton area, the Watchtower was one of several circular structures built in Edinburgh to address a growing problem with ‘Resurrectionists’, individuals who dug up recently interred bodies and sold them on for dissection..

Peter Liversidge | Flags for Edinburgh

For the duration of the Art Festival, Peter Liversidge is inviting anyone across the city with a flagpole to fly a white flag which bears the simple message ‘HELLO’. Asserting ownership, admitting defeat, displaying allegiance, flags have long been used to communicate and Flags for Edinburgh will incite a conversation across the city. What do flags mean to the institutions that fly them? What do they mean to the individuals who see them? Liversidge’s project will convey a buoyant, floating welcome across the city’s rooftops: a greeting in the form of ‘Hello’. The project has more than 25 confirmed flag bearers, including Lloyds Banking Group Scotland, City Chambers, Canongate Kirk, University of Edinburgh and Scottish National Galleries.

Daniel Padden and Peter Nicholson | Edinburgh Complaints Choir

Daniel Padden and Peter Nicholson invite the city and its visitors to submit their grievances for a collective, cathartic, airing of complaints through song. Known for their experimental new music compositions, Padden and Nicholson will work with non-professional singers and their complaints to build striking and unconventional pieces for this newly formed choir. The Edinburgh Complaints Choir will perform live at public sites throughout the festival.

Sarah Kenchington | Wind Pipes for Edinburgh

Fascinated by the connection between body and machine, Sarah Kenchington builds instruments from discarded and abandoned materials, which depend on people in order to come to life. For her most ambitious construction to date, Wind Pipes for Edinburgh, Kenchington will create a vast organ from hundreds of decommissioned organ pipes from around the world. Requiring six people to man the bellows to make the organ sound and many more to play the instrument, the piece will offer a gathering place for amateurs and professionals alike to play and produce music together. Wind Pipes will be sited in Trinity Apse, a 15th century gothic church that was itself dismantled from its original site where Waverley Station now stands. Rebuilt in the 1870s on a much larger scale, just off the Royal Mile, Trinity Apse will provide a provide a fitting location for Kenchington’s work: both location and organ are the product of a dismantled and reconstructed history.

Ross Sinclair | Real Life and how to live it in Auld Reekie

Twenty years on from his ‘Open Letter to whomsoever it may concern regarding Scotland’ which imagined a 2061 referendum in which a majority of Scots voted to turn their country into a theme park, identity (personal, collective, local, national and international) remains the central concern of Ross Sinclair’s practice.
For Parley, Sinclair reflects on ‘real life’ in Scotland’s capital city. Mixing the form and aesthetics of racing cards and pop charts with the commemorative plaque, Sinclair will distribute a series of different graphics throughout the city, which provoke a lively conversation between high and low culture; the stories which a city likes to tell about itself, and those truths which remain concealed.

Robert Montgomery | Edinburgh Fire Poem

Scottish-born artist Robert Montgomery’s commission for the Art Festival draws on personal and historical memory to reflect on Scotland’s rich tradition of rebellion, exile and freedom. Fire rituals have long been a familiar feature of the Scottish landscapes and Montgomery will draw on these for Edinburgh Fire Poem, a sculptural poem created in oak, which will be sited on The Mound and will burn at dusk to mark the opening of EAF on 1 August. Remaining as a charred monument throughout the festival, the poem, written by Montgomery, will reflect on the Jacobite tradition of rebellion and exile in the pursuit of freedom, a literal expression of the artist’s words, ‘rather burned than captured’.

Krijn de Koning | Land

Proposing an architecture in which users can experience familiar places anew and gain access and views of things which normally lie beyond the bounds of sight or experience, Krijn de Koning has been commissioned for the first time in the UK and will build a structure in the extraordinary space of Edinburgh College of Art’s Sculpture Court which incorporates some of the college’s renowned collection of classical casts. The work will form the site for several Parley events as a place for framing questions, excavating and exploring ideas. The project is co-commissioned with Edinburgh College of Art.

Sara Barker | Patterns

Glasgow School of Art graduate Sara Barker has attracted increasing attention for her delicate constructions in wire, metal and canvas. Her EAF co-commission with Jupiter Artland will mark the first time the artist will be making work for the outdoors. Creating work that is intimately connected with its surroundings, Barker’s new commission will take the form of a painted metal sculpture within a glass structure, initiating a dialogue with the landscape which surrounds it. Reflecting the ever-changing light and weather of the landscape, the work is conceived as the articulation of a space for visitors to enter and inhabit with their mind’s eye.

Katri Walker | An Equilibrium not of this World

Katri Walker will counterpose microscopic timelapse images of the interior workings of the body with views of the Scottish landscape as experienced by a hill runner in her immersive video installation, An Equilibrium not of this World. Conveying an intensely symbiotic relationship between man and environment, Walker will present a dialogue between body and landscape, interior and exterior, man and machine. Her work, commissioned in association with NVA as part of their Speed of Light project, results from Walker’s time spent with participant hill runners. She will bring together this documentation with extraordinary visuals of the body’s interior that result from her collaboration with Dr Trudi Gillespie of the University of Edinburgh’s IMPACT project and Consultant Cardiologist Colin Petrie.

Kenny Watson | The Days and Fascia

A recent graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, this young talent has forged a highly distinctive practice marrying the materials of Street Art with fine art techniques. Watson’s extraordinary installation, The Days, is recreated especially for the festival. The visitor enters a room entirely papered with bill posters used to advertise the Edinburgh Evening News, and collected from newspaper vendors over the course of a year. The work offers an unsettling portrait of the city and its press. It is accompanied by Fascia, a major new painting created for the 12 metre frontage of 169 Rose Street, in which successive layers of text are painstakingly layered over each other to literally write themselves out of existence.

Two Parley symposium events have been specially conceived by artists Ross Sinclair and Rachel Maclean to mark the opening and closing of the 2013 festival. These special Parley events will take place within Krijn de Koning’s installation at Edinburgh College of Art and are in addition to the EAF events programme, full details of which will be announced later in the year.

2nd August - Ross Sinclair | Real Life Parledonia

Initiating a forum for discussion that will reach to the heart of Parley, artist Ross Sinclair will adopt the role of ring master to direct speakers, performers and artists in debating such questions as: ‘what is Parley? And what is Caledonia? And how might they come together locally, nationally and internationally? What is the job description of ‘artists’ in a small damp Northern European country in 2013?

31st August – Rachel Maclean | Tae Think Again: Rethinking Identity in Contemporary Scotland

Co-commissioned with Edinburgh Printmakers

Responding to the upcoming 2014 referendum on Scottish Independence, this symposium curated by Rachel Maclean will delve deep in to contemporary Scottish national identity to explore the myriad of convoluted, often contradictory, constructions of national identity that underpin what it means to be Scottish or part of the Union of England. The event will begin with a screening of the artist’s film The Lion and The Unicorn.

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