Art Festival's 2017 commissions revealed

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Inspired by the twin anniversaries of the birth of the Festival City and the publication of Patrick Geddes' The Making of the Future, Edinburgh Art Festival has announced its programme of special commissions for 2017. 

The Festival's Commissions programme aims to bring new artwork to public sites across Edinburgh, allowing audiences to visit little-known or sometimes hidden areas of the Scottish capital. 

2017 is Scotland's Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, and the Art Festival is drawing comparisons between Geddes' pamphlet (full title The Making of the Future: A Manifesto and a Project), published in 1917 amid the horrors of the First World War, and the positive ideals inherent in the establishment of the first Edinburgh Festival, in an attempt to move on from those of the Second. 

Both placed art and culture at the centre of their visions for a better society, and now eight new projects across six Edinburgh sites will pay tribute to their shared principles and values. 

Sorcha Carey, Director of Edinburgh Art Festival, said: 

In Edinburgh’s 70th anniversary as a festival city, our 2017 commissions look back to sites and ideas of an earlier champion of culture in our city: Sir Patrick Geddes. Geddes famously advised that ‘We need to give everyone the outlook of the artist’ - and in ‘The Making of the Future: a manifesto and a project’ published in 1917, he laid out his vision for a new form of society in which ‘Art and Industry… would henceforth advance in unison’.

Profoundly international in his outlook and influence, Geddes’ ideas and thinking laid the foundations for the rich festival culture that has evolved in our city - and our programme of new work by Scottish and international artists, reminds us of his continued relevance in 2017. 

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Highlights of the 2017 commissions programme include: 

  • A new site-specific garden studio by Edinburgh-based artist Bobby Niven in the urban wildlife reserve, Johnston Terrace Wildlife Garden, which was originally founded as a community garden by Geddes at the end of the 19th century. A social sculpture, this new structure will host artists in residence during EAF as well as act as a venue for environmentally focused-workshops, inspired by Geddes’ thinking. 
  • A giant dragon within the gothic kirk of Trinity Apse, by Walker & Bromwich, and accompanied by a series of lively performative rituals and a public pageant. Playful and utopian, the work invites audiences to consider alternatives to the dominant capitalist model.
  • A major new multi-channel video work by the recent winner of New Zealand’s prestigious Walters Prize, Shannon Te Ao through his new video work, addressing the physical and emotional depths of love, grief and healing.
  • A new sculptural work within Edinburgh’s Old Town, by Glasgow-based Toby Paterson, creating a landscape for reflection in Chessels Court, another site in the Old Town closely associated with Patrick Geddes.
  • A weekend of events exploring the themes of this year’s programme, entitled A Summer Meeting (11-14 August), including a rare opportunity to visit to the original home of Geddes, Ramsay Gardens. Reflecting on Geddes' ideas of city development, housing, and the role of education and the arts, EAF will work with residential communities to co-produce events across the city.
  • A dedicated showcase for emerging talent, Platform: 2017; selected by Graham Fagen and Jacqueline Donachie, features 4 artists, in the new venue for the festival, a former Victorian Fire Station on Lauriston Place, now part of the Edinburgh College of Art campus.

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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