World-class artists descend on Cupar

Cupar Arts Festival is to return this summer with a prestigious line up of contemporary artists, who will present artworks and performances in venues and public spaces across the Fife market town.  The Festival will celebrate Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.

Running from 18 to 25 June 2016, the free festival will include works from some of Scotland’s most significant contemporary artists - including Charles Avery, Chad McCail and recently announced Scotland representative at the 2017 Venice Biennale, Rachel MacLean.

One of the few curated visual art festivals in Scotland, Cupar Arts Festival 2016 will make use of a series of unconventional spaces including hoarding on industrial sites, the town’s historic County Buildings and courtroom, Burgh Chambers and churches, and the mediaeval closes of the town.

Artworks will be exhibited both within venues as well as outside in public spaces, enabling visitors to experience the artworks by both seeking them out and by stumbling across them.  It is not only visual art that will bring this year’s festival to life, there will be an eclectic range of live music, artist events, children’s activities and poetry. 

Festival highlights include:

Guided tours of The Thermos Museum in which 12 suitcases unfold to reveal numerous astonishing displays.

Visitors are escorted around the museum by a mysterious and disenchanted tour guide and digression seems to rule.

The Caravan Obscura offers visitors the chance to step inside a world of optical illusions created by artist Kenny Bean using mirrors, lenses and light – all inside a caravan.

Anthony Schrag’s Walk and Screening Event, What Lies (Beneath Cupar)? is an opportunity to participate in a piece that is part interactive tour, part performance and part film.  This explores the mysterious Lady Burn that appears and disappears beneath the town and is inspired by underground waters and the mythic place they occupy in human psychology.

A series of performances of In BeTween UncerTainty by New Yorker, Jacqueline Bulnes and her dance company, Twistinkers.  Jacqueline returns to Cupar Arts Festival with this interactive dance piece inspired by the Greek god Hermes, bringer of dreams, guide of souls to the underworld, and master of ‘in-between’, liminal spaces. This will be performed at the Bandstand in the Haugh Park.

Sun Dome by Mike Inglis is a geodesic dome installation combining traditional materials with new print making technologies.  The dome will be situated in Haugh Park for the duration of the festival.

Rachel Maclean will be showing two films including a one-off screening of film Feed Me (commissioned by FVU and Hayward Touring for British Art Show 8 and supported by Arts Council England and Creative Scotland).  In addition, Rachel’s film Over the Rainbow will be screened throughout the festival.

Juliana Capes, who is creating a colourful installation from umberellas that have been donated by local people.

Jenny Smith, who is creating a sculpture from shadows.  She has worked with local people and asked them ‘What is Shadow?’.  Using their hand-written responses and laser cutting techniques, she’s created an artwork of shadows.

Performances of ‘In My Bed I’m My Guru’ will take place daily.  PierGiuseppe Di Tanno is an actor and performer. His path is contamination-oriented, an investigation between the body and the speech – theatre and dance, through the experimental practice of different languages.

Kate Downie’s work ‘Gaps, Distortions and Downright Lies’ is a constructed space in a former judges’ chambers that has been changed through painting directly onto the walls and floors.  The piece challenges viewers’ perceptions and marks an intriguing departure from her usual two-dimensional work.

Charles Avery who has represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale in 2007.  His work at Cupar Arts Festival will include a large ‘sea monster’ sculpture and a series of six gouache paintings.

Maris, a well-established collaborative duo who are bringing their work Reliquary to the festival as part of a symbolic pilgrimage.  They will walk on a nine-day journey from Annat in Wester Ross to Cupar.

An Evening of Poetry from six of Scotland’s contemporary poets: Russell Jones, who has published four collections of poetry; Aileen Ballantyne, this year’s winner of both the Mslexia Prize for Poetry; Lauren Pope, recipient of a Greenberg Poetry Fellowship whose writing has appeared in numerous journals and online publications; Jonathan Bay, who has been published in The Inkwell, Hearts and Minds and Gutter; Rebecca Tamás, who has most recently been published in The White Review, Best British Poetry 2015 and The Morning Star; Marianne MacRae, a poet and comedian working in Edinburgh.

A series of free concerts will also take place with music from:

Stephen Lee and Mark Small, who release their first album this June entitled ‘The EPR Paradox’.  This explores different levels of textural melancholic, ambient electronica.  The Dundee based Lee, a pianist and composer and Small, a producer, sound artist and audio engineer have plans to tour Europe.  (18 June, 4-6pm at the Festival Hub)

David Webster and Stevie Anderson who come together to form the band ‘Sinderins’ will play a mix of surreal folk rock and carefully crafted pop music. (19 June, doors open 2pm, start time 2.30pm, exact venue TBC)

Genre-defying act The Onion Club, which combines classical, punk, glam and gospel influences with a Weimar aesthetic to produce a style that is upfront, intense and deeply personal.  Pianist and composer Stephen Lee and singer and performance artist Pauline M. Hynd have developed a suite of original and reimagined songs with influences and interests including quantum physics, queer theory, Buddhism and punk rock.  (21 June, doors open 7.30pm, start time 8pm, at Jordan's Nightclub, Station Road, Cupar KY15 5HX)

Wire and Wool, a seven-piece band drawing on their diverse cultures to bring to life full-on bluegrass punk and roots revival heaven. They have wowed Celtic Connections, the Southern Fried Festival in Perth and the Glasgow Merchant City Festival to name but a few. (24 June, doors open at 7.30pm start time of 8pm, exact venue TBC).

Inge Thomson and Fraser Fifield, who will take part in one of Elm House’s ‘house concerts’.  Originally hailing from Fair Isle, Inge Thomson is an intensely melodic singer/songwriter who regularly brings her multi-instrumental textures and vocal harmonies to the Karine Polwart trio.  Inge Thomson will come together with Edinburgh-based master instrumentalist, Fraser Fifield for this concert.  (25 June, exact time TBC, The Elm, Main Street, Craigrothie, Cupar KY15 5QA).

Families visiting Cupar Arts Festival will enjoy many aspects of the artwork and there will also a Children’s Activity Room for youngsters to engage in hands-on creative activities.  Street food from local chef, Christopher Trotter will be popular with all ages.  This will be created at a launch party on 18 June using ingredients he has selected from Fife Farmers Market, which takes place in Cupar that morning.

Festival Director, Gayle Nelson said: “I’m delighted to be able to bring some of the strongest artists working today to Cupar Arts Festival this year. The festival will showcase fantastic artists, great musicians and a plethora of events for all to enjoy.  To see this outstanding programme of artists come together in this rural market town is really wonderful and I know visitors will enjoy and be stimulated by the artwork they discover.”

Previously an autumn event, Cupar Arts Festival 2016 will take place over one week in June incorporating the summer solstice.

The festival has used the longest day to inspire its theme of liminality (a precise point where one phase ends and another begins).  Artists have been encouraged to use the widest possible interpretation of this theme, allowing responses which might range from changing states in the natural world or in scientific processes, changes in the role of a historic site or building, personal transformation and development, or the interpretation of liminal within anthropology relating to ritual and myth. Liminal relates to a tipping point, a time of change as a new phase is about to be entered into.

Cupar Arts Festival is supported with funding from the National Lottery through the Creative Scotland Open Project Fund, EventScotland, a team within the VisitScotland Events Directorate, and Fife Council’s Strategic Events Investment Fund.

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events at VisitScotland, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Cupar Arts Festival for the first time, through our National Events Programme. It is fitting in the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design that the festival will not only showcase work by some of Scotland’s best known contemporary artists, but will also give visitors the chance to explore the historic town’s unique buildings and spaces.”

For more information on the festival visit  Access to all exhibits, talks and other events is free of charge. 

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