Not to be confused with the wonderful whirlwind of Fringe festivities, the Edinburgh Art Festival, is the largest annual art festival in the UK and should not be missed. The festival, which was founded in 2004, kicked off on July 28th and will run until August 28th. With most events being free, the aim is to empower Edinburgh’s and Scotland’s galleries, artists and museums. It also acts as a launch-pad for aspiring, emerging and even seasoned artists. Local and visiting artists work in tandem to create captivating projects involving the city’s heritage, while places around the city become adorned with fabulous works. Additionally, numerous talks, events and tours pop up in the most unlikely of places.
Kirsty Whiten’s intriguing masked characters are a catalyst for people to see beyond the peripheries of the façade created by social constructions. Through stripping away and exposing social and cultural norms, Whiten eradicates the barriers and creates art which successfully reveals the natural human responses towards emotions, truthful thoughts, and notions surrounding sexuality and gender. This pioneering artist uses the mediums of watercolour and gargantuan oil paintings to craft and give birth to her illustrious tribe, the Now Peoples. Under the guidance of their fearless and resplendent leader and priestess, the Quing, the Now Peoples harmoniously exist in a utopian society where gender is free from judgement and androgyny is celebrated. For the Now, sexuality reigns true, gender preaches fluidity, and the characters are deeply immersed in ritualistic endeavours.
Whiten’s work challenges Western notions and draws upon the worldview of particular indigenous peoples, who to this day approach gender from an entirely different perspective. The remarkable characters, which are carefully carved inside the brilliant mind of Whiten, are conceived with bursts of bold colours and displayed dancing across the canvas in contorted movements. Whiten’s infatuation with animal and human connections have undoubtedly played a major role in their being.
The limited-edition book contains poetry and text, which complement the celebration of Whiten’s indigenous tribe and their priestess. Numerous works from the book are set to feature in her show at the Arusha Gallery as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival. Whiten is just one of the many acclaimed artists to showcase their work during this year’s dazzling art festivities.
By Tori Chalmers