A festival this month aims to celebrate the arts quarter in Edinburgh’s New Town, writes ANDY MOSELEY
Edinburgh’s New Town is well-known for its Georgian architecture, artisan shops and as the birthplace of some of the city’s famouswriters and scientists. It’s also an artistic quarter with an abundance of small galleries which are coming together to highlight international and home-grown Scottish artists alongside prodigious emerging talent.
Ten galleries on Dundas Street, Abercromby Place, Howard Street, Summer Place and Queen Street are participating in NT Art Month which will feature world-class exhibitions and artists.
Christina Jansen, gallery director at the Scottish Gallery, explained that the idea for the festival grew out of closer working between the galleries during the pandemic. Online events were initially a way of overcoming the difficulties for getting audiences engaged with the work of their artists while galleries were closed, but went on to expand their audience beyond the city and regular gallery visitors.
The festival builds further on this, linking together the long-established independent galleries, such as the Scottish Gallery, with the wider network of smaller galleries spread across New Town, including Powderhall Bronze Editions, an addition to Edinburgh’s gallery scene which will be showcasing bronze sculptures cast in its own fine art foundry.
The market for fine art in Edinburgh is largely driven by individual buyers looking for work that connects with them rather than thinking about the monetary value of the work. Explaining what drives many of their purchasers, Jansen says: “Your home is just bricks and mortar without art. Art is a different purchase from anything else you might make as it has a connection at an emotional level.”
However, the focus of the festival is about engaging with art in its broadest sense. The festival is free and visitors are encouraged to wander the streets, soaking up everything the galleries have to offer. “There’s a whole world you can dive into and it’s literally on your doorstep. We want people to get the art bug,” says Jansen.
As part of this, NT Art Month has partnered with St Mary’s RC Primary School. Pupils from across the city will be drawing, painting or creating an artwork showing their favourite place in the New Town. An NT Art Month scavenger hunt leaflet produced specifically for kids will also allow investigative young art lovers to test their skills by finding artworks and collecting stamps as they go.
NT Art Month is sponsored by private bank Hampden & Co whose head of banking, Mark Prentice, said: “Edinburgh is blessed with many exceptional local galleries and the festival is a great way to encourage people to explore them and to celebrate the arts available on their doorstep. Hampden & Co is delighted to support NT Arts Month.”
NT Arts month runs from 8 to 30 June. A full programme of participating galleries and festival events can be viewed on www.ntart.org