Today, Edinburgh Art Festival announces full details of this year’s Platform exhibition, the festival’s annual showcase supporting artists in the early stages of their careers to make and present new work. The festival is delighted to once again partner with City Art Centre to present Platform: 2020 from 31 October to 29 November.

Selected from an open call by artist Ruth Ewan, and curator, Sophia Hao (Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design), four artists based in Scotland – Rabindranath A Bhose, Mark Bleakley, Rhona Jack and Susannah Stark – have been supported to create new work which will be presented in a group show at City Art Centre.

Edinburgh Art Festival, along with its sibling August Festivals, made the difficult decision earlier this year to cancel their 2020 edition due to the ongoing pandemic. Despite the many challenges faced across the cultural sector, the festival is very pleased to continue to support artists during this difficult time by presenting the delayed 2020 edition of their Platform series, which usually forms a key element of each Edinburgh Art Festival programme, showcasing new work for four artists in the early stages of their careers.

Each of the artists has been working over recent months to develop new work for their presentation in Platform: 2020. The exhibition brings together four new bodies of work that include sound installations, textile and sculptural works, printmaking, film, performance, and text-based works. Across each of the artists’ individual practice, a number of themes and approaches are particularly resonant for our present times including the aesthetics of the collective, the intense vitality of ‘being together’ in space; strategies for survival; and the importance of the sense of touch.

Rabindranath A Bhose draws on queer modes of living and relating as expansive strategies for survival, and will create a new large-scale vinyl drawing for the exhibition space. Composed of signs, and words, the drawing references autobiographical and mythological elements. The drawing will be closely related to a text written during the recent lockdown which will be presented both in print form and in audio form read by the artist’s lover.

Artist and choreographer Mark Bleakley is developing new work using movement, print and video to develop a playful exploration of the poetics of weight and gravity and their relation to collectivity; asking how these are used by, with or against live bodies, and emphasising the vitality of being in a space together, and how this is manifest. The process of this new work draws upon film documentation from a movement workshop devised with collaborators, and a range of found footage relating to ideas of grounding, groundlessness, and inertia.

Rhona Jack is developing a series of large-scale textile-based sculptural works, taking the form of stitched hangings, woven rugs and elements of soft sculpture. Reconstructed and crafted from a patchwork of recycled scrap fabrics and items of clothing, the work draws attention to our relationship to textile production, consumption and waste; presenting consumerism in opposition to the personal narratives that we put upon clothes made in their millions.

Susannah Stark’s work consists of an audio soundscape featuring field recordings and song fragments sung by the artist that draws on histories of habitation in Scotland, interwoven with several ‘moving collages’ made from touristic postcards and property adverts which emanate coloured light, suggesting different ways of ‘seeing’ and highlighting emotional frequencies within the images. In addition are a series of floor-based sculptures assembled from various natural and synthetic found objects sourced with help from the artist’s mum, that are suggestive of meditating bodies.

Platform: 2020 is made possible thanks to the PLACE Programme, a partnership between Edinburgh Festivals, Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council and Creative Scotland, with additional support from the Cruden Foundation.

In spite of the current challenges, many visual art organisations, galleries, studios and production spaces remain open across Edinburgh and continue to present exhibitions and events. For further details on the amazing programming taking place across the city in the months ahead, click here.

Edinburgh Art Festival returns next year from 29 Jul to 29 Aug 2021 – as always working closely with the festival’s partner galleries, and alongside the extended network of August festivals, to celebrate the work of artists with audiences and communities across the city.

Sorcha Carey, Director, Edinburgh Art Festival said:

During what has been an exceptionally challenging time for cultural organisations across the country, and for individual artists and freelance workers in particular, we are so pleased to be able to support 4 artists based in Scotland to make and present new work. We look forward to sharing an exciting next generation of artists with audiences – and as artists and colleagues across the visual art sector continue to face considerable uncertainty, we encourage anyone who feels passionate about art and its importance to our society, to do what they can to support artists and galleries in their local community.

Ruth Ewan, Selector, Artist said:

It was exciting to be introduced to a new generation of artists in Scotland through the Platform selection process and I really look forward to seeing the new work Rabindranath, Mark, Rhona and Susannah have produced. Each artist in the exhibition has a clear and unique voice and it is vital we continue to support, nurture and value artists at this early stage in their careers, especially at this highly precarious time.

Sophia Hao, Selector, Curator of Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design said:

Platform is a vital supporting structure in Scotland for early-career artists to develop and realise new and risking taking works in a caring and stimulating environment. 

It has been an invigorating and inspiring experience to be part of the selection panel of Platform 2020 alongside Ruth and the festival team. Each of the artists offers us signposts to a collective, ethical and sustainable future, in which an ethos and praxis of being together is the means of being with the world, in all its splendour and uncertainties. 

In keeping with Government advice in order to protect and maintain the safety of visitors and staff, the City Art Centre has introduced a range of new safety measures and procedures throughout the venue, including a one-way system, installation of screens at reception, hand sanitiser stations, extra barriers and signage and staff will, of course, be wearing face coverings while offering visitors a very warm, socially distanced welcome.

Visitors are asked to wear face coverings and to pre-book free tickets for allocated time slots in advance via edinburghmuseums.org.uk

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