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Edinburgh Art Festival Captures the City

07 July 2014

This August, as you sip coffee and munch delicious pastries in one of Edinburgh's favourite cafes (the Manna House Bakery and Patisserie on Easter Road, to be precise) you might just find yourself caught up in the creation of a work of art. More than caught up, in fact - captured within it forever!

With the city full of energy and creativity, the festivals tend to draw you in even during the most innocuous activities, like walking down the street or sitting in a park, and Edinburgh Art Festival is no exception. At Manna House, artist Alice Finbow will be fashioning art from the cafe’s daily working life.

Alice will be resident in the cafe for a week, as part of her work An Attempt At Exhausting A Place, making notes, sketching, recording fragments of conversation, and generally observing the goings-on around her. At the end of the week, she’ll cover a single roll of paper - the length of the cafe's display wall - with the things she has seen and heard. This will then be displayed as a portrait of just one of the many lively nooks in the festival city.

A Superb 45 Art Exhibitions to be Explored

The life of a cafe isn't the only thing the festival is capturing this August though. With topics from the Commonwealth to the human subconscious in focus, there will be little left untouched by the creative gaze! Explore over 45 exhibitions featured in Edinburgh Art Festival’s programme, following their beautiful festival map - itself a work of art by Scottish illustrator David Galletly, who has hidden a few surprises in its intricate winding streets.

While the UK’s largest celebration of visual art always opens doors of experience and thought, this August it is also opening a few long-closed physical doors as well. As the city stretches to bursting with festival activity, old and usually private spaces are given a new public life, offering visitors a chance to see some of the hidden parts of the Scottish capital.

Edinburgh Art Festival is the ticket in to the Old Royal High School, an imposing building that has watched over Edinburgh for nearly two centuries. Originally a school, it was redesigned in the 1970s as New Parliament House, with the school's assembly room intended as the chamber for the Scottish Assembly. Since the referendum of 1979 fell, the building has mostly been closed to the public, but this year - on the eve of another referendum - it will host an exhibition dealing with ideas of community, representation and democracy, opening up this historical space for thoughts of past and future.

Be part of an Art Experience

What makes the festival programme so special are the unique ways it offers its audience to experience both visual art and the city itself. Don’t miss out on taking a tour guided by an artist whose work is the walking and talking itself, and who will reveal elements of Edinburgh that usually go unnoticed. Join in the performance of a sporting match in Out Of Left Field, an interactive piece that blurs the lines between art and sport. Escape the bustle of the city by heading out to the strange and wonderful Jupiter Artland, contemporary art park and gallery, or wander over to the Rhubaba gallery and studios to see magician Vincent Gambini explore his own art as artist-in-residence. Finally, hang out at Summerhall, where festivals collide, and be sure to take in some of the challenging political art exhibited there.

Whether you’re a long-time art lover or new to the game, the diverse and innovative Edinburgh Art Festival programme is sure to contain something perfect for you.  

Edinbugh Art Festival runs from 31 July to 31 August, and most events and exhibitions are free to attend. For more information see their website

Thanks to Edinburgh Festivals for supplying our Edinburgh Art Festival blog.