Edinburgh styles itself ‘the festival city’. We have all kinds of festivals, about all kinds of subjects, all year round. But it is in the summer where the party really gets started. Over the course of a few weeks, we have the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Edinburgh Art Festival and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It is an incredible period of vibrant creativity, excellence and fun.
My Mum and I kicked things off this year with art-immersion over a couple of days. We saw the City Art Centre’s stunning exhibition of Victoria Crowe’s work. I wrote about my love of this artist here and here. It was wonderful to see some familiar paintings again, and plenty of new-to-me ones too. Here is a screen-shot montage of some of the photos I took as we went around. I love this collage display of colour and texture, which is the epitome of Crowe’s style:
Talking of collage, we also went to see Cut and Paste at the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art. Among my favourite works were this pair of c1830 pictures by George Smart, depicting a goose woman and a postman.
And we managed to fit in a whizz round the National Gallery of Scotland’s Bridget Riley exhibition. It is always fascinating to see her ground-breaking geometric work, but I particularly enjoyed the room of sketches and preparatory pieces which, in true maths good practice tradition, showed her workings:
Next came a few comedy shows with Hub and our nephew, Mitchel. Perhaps the most compelling was the stand-up routine by New Zealander Liam Malone, who is a gold medal winning paralympian. Mitch has his own paralympic ambitions, so Liam’s show was hugely motivating and inspiring for him (as well as being very funny). He was also very kind and generous with his time, talking to Mitch before the show, giving him a shout-out during the routine, and posing for a photo afterwards. Thank you Liam!
Finally, I kicked off my book festival programme with a couple of memorable events. Tim Winton spoke about his new book, The Shepherd’s Hut. I could have listened to him for ever. He reflected powerfully on the importance of landscape in his work; the creative process (or lack of process in his case); and how he sees optimism and hope as disciplines and obligations which have the capacity to break and re-make things.
“Surfing and writing both involve a lot of waiting. A surfer is waiting for a swell, the residue of an event that happened in the past. When you get one, you ride their energy to the shore. That’s what I do as a writer. Stories and ideas are just ripples from old events.” ~Tim Winton
After a couple of hours relaxing in the festival’s garden, seated under this lovely old tree…..
…I saw Damian Barr and Kit de Whaal talk about the recently published Common People: an anthology of working class writers. I am a huge fan of both authors and this was a wonderfully entertaining session, with an important point about the need for us all to make space for perspectives and experiences which are different from our own.
Never let it be said that we allow a bit of rain to dampen our festival enjoyment! 🙂