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Discovering new artists at the Edinburgh Art Festival

28 August 2015 by Charlotte

Work by Nathan Anthony.

Work by Nathan Anthony.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Edinburgh Art Festival for the first time during a research trip connected to the Art Fund New Collecting Award the Walker Art Gallery recently received.  The Gallery has been awarded £60,000 by the Art Fund to expand its collection of works representing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) themes. 

I saw some amazing new work by artists including Phyllida Barlow at the Fruitmarket Gallery and Marvin Gaye Chetwynd at the Old Royal High School  during my trip.

One of the best parts of my job, as Curator of British Art, is discovering artists I haven’t come across before. This year the Festival introduced a new strand to its programme. The exhibition, Platform: 2015  showcased work by four early career artists. I was particularly struck by Jessica Ramm’s video piece and accompanying sculpture which explored our expectations of how matter should behave.

Work by Marvin Gaye Chetwynd.

Work by Marvin Gaye Chetwynd.

Across the city, I visited the Number Shop Studios and Gallery . This artist-run space is exhibiting the work of studio members over the course of the festival. One of my favourite pieces in the show was a piece by Nathan Anthony. He had produced and hung three t-shirts from the gallery ceiling, similar to those worn by big groups of friends on holiday or hen and stag dos, emblazoned with personal nick names on the reverse. On closer inspection, the viewer realises that these t-shirts are similarly personalised, only the names are those of the Romantic Poets – ‘Keatsy’, ‘Shellers’ and ‘Mad Bad Byron’. Titled ‘Lads on the Grand Tour’, the work invites us to consider the connection between contemporary ‘lad culture’ and the escapades of the Romantic Poets and other Grand Tourists.

This work particularly appealed to me because it relates to my recent work on our current exhibition, ‘Picturing Venice’, at the Lady Lever Art Gallery, which looks in part at British tourism to the Le Serenissima since the 17th century.

I really enjoyed my trip to Edinburgh and hope to go again next year. I’ll be writing more blogs over the next 18 months about my New Collecting Award research. You can find out more about the LGBT collection project on our website and I hope you’ll check back soon to see what else I’ve been up to.

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