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Captivating Visual Art Exhibitions Await at Summerhall for 2024 Festival Season


Summerhall delivers a host of interrogative and thought-provoking visual arts exhibitions for the 2024 Festival Season – including work from one of the UK’s leading wildlife artists, Helen Denerly.

Summerhall announces a season of carefully curated, interrogative and thought-provoking exhibitions from local and international contemporary artists as part of the Summerhall 2024 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Programme.

The iconic Scottish arts venue and community space is proud to present a retrospective of Robert McDowell’s extensive work with The Medium of Madness, showcasing paintings created between 1968-98, from exhibitions in museums, galleries and festivals in Belfast, London, Hamburg, Kassel, and Dubrovnik. The work speaks to the originality of inspiration, celebrating the process of creation itself.

Summerhall Head of Visual Arts and Cinema Samantha Chapman commented:

“It is my pleasure to present Summerhall’s Visual Arts programme for Fringe 2024, an eclectic mix of world class exhibitions from local and international contemporary artists working in a variety of mediums.

Like the ancient alchemists who sought to turn base metals into gold, the artists whose work we present here, harness their inner visions, and transform ordinary materials into works of beauty and meaning, offering insight into alternative perspectives. From giant metal spiders to photographic documentation of the Washington DC punk scene in the 1970s, this exhibition season has something for everyone.

We invite you to come and explore Summerhall, encounter the unusual and celebrate creativity with us.”

Internationally renowned for his distinctive style of ‘constructed photography’, Calvin Colvin’s exhibition This Living Hand reflects on mortality, creativity, and the essential role of the hand in artistic creation, within our new age of AI and digitally created photographic imagery. The title, borrowed from an eight-line fragment penned by Keats, encapsulates the theme of the exhibition, exploring the significance of human touch and creative agency in art and photography amidst the digital age. Glasgow-born artist Colvin’s multi-medium works showcase an assembled tableaux of objects, meticulously painted and photographed, offering a unique perspective on the intersection of art, technology, and human expression. Colvin’s artworks are held in prestigious collections worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Art in Houston, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

One of the UK’s leading wildlife artists, Helen Denerly, brings Flux to Summerhall’s Meadows and Corner Galleries. Famed in Edinburgh for the giraffe sculptures that stand proudly outside the Omni Centre, Denerly uses pieces of scrap metal to craft creatures of the natural world, exploring the joy and awe of that world, the horror of some human actions, and the playful nature of being human. Denerly’s sculptures start with an idea, a thought, a feeling at the time and after detailed research, sometimes a drawing. She then finds the perfect piece of scrap metal, filed according to shape in a rusting library of scrap. From here, the cutting, grinding and welding begins, as sparks fly and molten metal transforms to become another form, another life entirely.

Summerhall resident and picture restorer, Jo Coates, presents Restoration showcasing examples of what can be achieved with patience and attention to detail. The process of restoration is vigorous, with many different techniques used depending on the condition of the work, from relining to retouching, from using heavy irons and hammers to tiny, delicate paintbrushes. Alongside actual and photographic examples, highlighting the attention needed in order to not create any further damage, mindful of the artists’ individual technique, Restoration will also showcase Coates’ tools and materials.

Australian comedian turned artist Sam Kissajukian brings Paintings of Modernia, a bold exhibition of paintings. Created during a manic Bipolar episode in 2021, this was an intense period of self teaching, diagnosis and reflection that accumulated into the creation of 300 paintings. Exploring the ineffable mental states of the artist, and those associated with complex emotions, Paintings of Modernia documents the life of a performer living with Bipolar. Alongside the exhibition, Kissajukian is presenting 300 Paintings as part of Summerhall’s theatre programme, which details the experience of creating the work.

A travelling docu-photography exhibition, Hard Art brings alive the Washington, DC punk scene and its lasting impact on music and culture worldwide through photographs by Lucian Perkins. The exhibition offers a singular, close-up view of a thriving, underground scene in obscure art co-ops and performance spaces just as a soon-to-erupt punk scene took hold with the Bad Brains, Trenchmouth, Teen Idles, the Untouchables, and the Slickee Boys, among others, at the forefront. Perkins, later a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist for The Washington Post, photographed four shows over this pivotal five-month period in 1979, offering an intimate exploration of “the time before the time” that punk rock found firm footing in the U.S.

Alongside the invigorating Festival programme, Summerhall will continue to showcase their permanent exhibitions: John Kindness’s The Odyssey; Feminine Futures, curated by Adrian Sina; Charlie Stiven’s End of Pier Show; Mena Bazaar 2017 – a collaborative project between nine homeless artists, who live with their children in a government-run night shelter in Old Delhi; Roger Elliot’s Wall Drawing No. 1; Jenni Fagan’s The Bone Library; Jane Frere’s Protest Mask Project; Will Knight’s architectural drawings; Belarusian Political Prisoners – two installations highlighting the situation of political prisoners in Belarus; Nihad Al Turk’s compositions; and the Demarco European Art Foundation and Demarco Archive.

Flux, Hard Art, Paintings of Modernia, Restoration, The Medium of Madness, and This Living Hand run from 26 July – 20 September 2024. All exhibitions are free, and open 11am – 5pm, Tuesday – Sunday.

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