Edinburgh Art Festival announce 2017 exhibitions programme

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Edinburgh Art Festival is the largest annual festival of visual art in the UK and is now in its 14th year. In 2017, the festival and its partners will present over 45 exhibitions across more than 35 venues throughout the city.

Exhibitions will combine presentations of Scottish and international contemporary art across Edinburgh’s leading galleries and museums as well as site-specific pop-ups and artist-run spaces.

Sorcha Carey, Director of Edinburgh Art Festival, said:

As Edinburgh celebrates 70 years of festival culture, our festival continues to bring together the city’s leading museums and galleries in a unique celebration of the very best of visual art. With exhibitions across the length and breadth of the city – the vast majority of which are free – Edinburgh Art Festival offers an unrivalled opportunity to immerse yourself in art drawn from across the world and the centuries, stretching from Caravaggio and Constable, by way of Turner Prize winners, to the most exciting recent graduates making art today.

There is so much to see at Edinburgh Art Festival this year we’ve highlighted some of the key exhibitions below – with further announcements about the programme due in May.


Artists from around the globe will be represented in Edinburgh this year and will include:

  • Brazilian artist Jac Leirner at The Fruitmarket Gallery, who will be presenting new work including sclptures made from ropes, spirit levels, rolling papers and rulers, alongside a new series of watercolours.
  • Argentine artist Pablo Bronstein will realise his most ambitious outdoor work to date at Jupiter Artland, creating The Rose Walk: a connected pavilion structure, created in both Gothic and Chinoises Revival styles, met through a 25m rose garden.
  • The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art will present a selection of works by the influential American artist Ed Ruscha, held in the ARTIST ROOMS collection. The exhibition will explore the artist's fascination with West Coast American culture including a photographic series, paintings, and drawings dating from the 1960s to 2000.
  • Interdisciplinary artist Patrick Staff will develop a new Observer’s Walk at Collective; an audio guide for Calton Hill that will reflect on social concerns such as sex, gender and the construction of community.

Scottish artists will again feature strongly throughout the programme and will include:

  • A roster of solo exhibitions of work will be presented at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, with a presentation of new work by Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon, alongside Graham Fagen’s 2015 Scotland + Venice work, The Slaves Lament, on show in Edinburgh for the first time.
  • Talbot Rice Gallery will present Stephen Sutcliffe: Sex Symbols in Sandwich Signs, with new work by the artist, exploring themes of identity, self-doubt, obsession, cultural constructs and class conflict.
  • The inaugural exhibition of the NOW series at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art will open this spring: a three-year programme of six exhibitions that will take over the ground floor of the Gallery’s Modern One building. The first exhibition will include three rooms of new and recent work by Nathan Coley and explore the theme of place in the work of other artists such as Mona Hatoum, Rivane Neuenschwander and Tessa Lynch.
  • To celebrate the gallery’s 20th anniversary, Ingleby will present a sequence of pairings of artists from March 2017 and ending, where it began, one year later in and per se and, presenting three pairings this summer.
  • Edinburgh Printmakers will open New Edition this festival, featuring the new wave of artists born in the 1970s/80s working collaboratively, including newly commissioned print works by Museums Press, Poster Club and Emer Tumilty.

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Edinburgh Art Festival will look to the 70th anniversary of the emergence of the festival city and Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology by looking back to the 20th century and beyond, and celebrating key moments by presenting significant art historical and survey exhibitions.

  • The National Museum of Scotland will highlight the 17th century by exploring the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites through the largest exhibition of its kind in over 70 years.
  • Dovecot Gallery will present the story of the key women weavers and artists who have contributed to Dovecot Tapestry Studio’s history. Contemporary pieces such as Diagrams of Love: Marriage of Eyes by Linder and work by Fiona Mathison and Hanna Tuulikki, will be shown alongside key historical works to provide an overview of work created by women artists, investigating the history and cultural identity of women expressed in their work in textile.
  • A survey of British Realist painting in the 1920s and 1930s at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art will rediscover an extraordinary, often side-lined generation of artists who worked in a realist vein between the wars. It will bring together 70 works by some 50 artists such as Stanley Spencer and James Bateman.
  • Beyond Caravaggio at the National Gallery of Scotland will chart the revolution in painting sparked by one of the world’s most celebrated (and notorious) artists, bringing an impressive group of paintings by Caravaggio and his followers to Scotland for the first time. The gallery will also show one of the greatest masterpieces of British art: Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, 1831, by John Constable, in dialogue with one of the most powerful and celebrated Scottish landscape paintings: William McTaggart’s The Storm.
  • City Art Centre will be celebrating all of Edinburgh and its history through Edinburgh Alphabet, an ‘A-Z’ of the city’s combined museum and gallery collections linking to the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.


Photography will play an important role within the 2017 exhibitions programme with venues across the city looking at this medium:

  • The Scottish National Portrait Gallery will explore the unique partnership of Scottish pioneers David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, whose remarkable contribution to photography, and impressive body of work produced in the four short years between 1843 and 1847, had an unparalleled impact on the medium. 100 of their most significant images will be on show.
  • The Victorian photographer Roger Fenton will be the subject of an exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse this summer, where Fenton’s powerful images of the Crimean war, which showed the public the impact and senselessness of the war for the first time, will be shown alongside the backdrop of highlighted newspaper reports and materials.
  • Stills will present Kate Davis’ first solo exhibition in Edinburgh, including the first showing of her new film, commissioned after Davis won the Margaret Tait Award in 2016.


Presentations of contemporary artists working in expanded contexts will feature within the exhibitions programme at Edinburgh Art Festival:

  • The exhibition at Inverleith House will explore perceptions of the exotic and attitudes towards collecting, through rarely seen archival plans, paintings and photographs presented in specially commissioned contextual frameworks by artists including Laura Aldridge, Bobby Niven and Charlie Billingham.
  • Scottish artist Sue Jane Taylor’s paintings from offshore oil platforms, bringing a unique perspective to the relationship between art, the environment, and industry at the National Museum of Scotland.
  • In the new Alt-w LAB at the City Art Centre, New Media Scotland mounts the first UK exhibition of work by Thought Collider, where Susana Cámara Leret and Mike Thompson’s artwork explores metabolic processes, bodies and spaces; and Rhubaba will present a polyvocal project centring around the work of Melbourne-based writer Jessica Yu.
  • The work of Glasgow School of Art graduate Ross Little will be presented at Collective as part of their Satellites Programme, tracing globalised labour found across shipbreaking yards in India and transatlantic cruise ships; Talbot Rice Gallery will feature Jacob Kerray in their TRG3 space; and The Number Shop will showcase their studio residents in MELON - a series of 5 week-long exhibitions, exploring themes from nationalism and border control to superheroes.
  • Edinburgh College of Art will present its annual Masters show, featuring new work and performances in art, design, architecture, landscape architecture, composition and sound design. At Jupiter Artland, the Glasgow-based artist Marco Giordano will present his first outdoor commission, featuring an avenue of sculptures showering a mist of water across the path up to the Steadings; plus an overnight performance by duo Ruby Pester and Nadia Rossi, with guests PAULINE and Fallopé & the Tubes on the penultimate night of the festival.
  • Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop will present a new body of work by Charlotte Barker, an artist focused primarily on ceramics, illustrating the potential of clay and highlighting its social and historical context.

Charlotte Barker 975x635


An exciting array of pop-ups and events will feature in this year’s programme, including:

  • A playful exhibition centred around audience by the collective ‘Pauline and The Matches’, and the return of Deveron Projects with a screening of Syrian-German artist Manaf Halbouni's What If?, a project starting in Huntly this spring in which Manaf is working with local communities and recently resettled Syrian refugees in Aberdeenshire.
  • The Travelling Gallery and Glasgow Woman’s Library will present a joint exhibition by Glasgow-based artist Lauren Printy Currie, while Place + Platform will showcase Reject, Respond, Re-purpose, a site-specific exhibition exploring and responding to abandoned thrift shop art.
  • A449 Architects will present their first major exhibition Eh? Whats this?, where four Scotland based contemporary artists, Sam Adamson, Lachlan McFeely Bolt, Harriet Morley and Rachael Simpson will respond both collaboratively and independently to the surrounding community of Portobello, and artist Yvonne Buskie will collaborate with five artists from different disciplines during a one-month residency at St Margaret's House to create an evolving and living exhibition, to include performance, dating, film projection, and sculptural objects.
  • A minibus will leave Edinburgh on the final three Sundays of the festival to go to Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden Little Sparta and Crawick Multiverse, by Charles Jencks. Telfer Gallery artist in residence Leontios Toumpouris will collaborate with artist-filmmaker Maria Anastassiou to present a choreographed screening of performance, film and expanded cinema by filmmakers and artists.
  • Female filmmaker collective Ethel Maude will present ‘Episodes’, an online episodic film piece released weekly during the festival, designed to be viewed on personal phones and computers, and the Museum of Childhood will present a site-specific installation of portraiture by Wendy McMurdo Let’s Go to a Place.
  • The Drawing Works presents an exhibition of artists working with drawing at Patriothall Gallery, while Swedish artist Stina Wirfelt will unveil a new film, Rolls and Shutters, recently completed in Craigmillar.
  • The Signet Library will reflect on Czech–French photographer Josef Koudelka's larger-than-life concertina books; a durational installation by Juliana Capes will chart the chewing gum constellations of city centre pavements and culminate in a unique performance; Heather Lander will present Nearer Future, an immersive sonic light sculpture with music by Robert Bentall at Lothian Chambers; and Leith Creative will present a design charrette, debating cultural regeneration in this area of the city.

There are so many exhibitions taking place this summer you should start planning now! The commissions programme for Edinburgh Art Festival will be announced shortly.

Edinburgh Art Festival runs from 27 July - 27 August 2017. Find out more about the Festival, including links to programme and ticketing details.

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