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Red Independent Heart #3, 2008, © Joana Vasconcelos, | 'In Focus: Scottish Photography', Terpsichore, © Maud Sulter, Courtesy of Street Level Photoworks | Rosetta II, 2005 - 2006, © Jenny Saville, Courtesy Of The Artist And Gagosian
Red Independent Heart #3, 2008, © Joana Vasconcelos, | 'In Focus: Scottish Photography', Terpsichore, © Maud Sulter, Courtesy of Street Level Photoworks | Rosetta II, 2005 - 2006, © Jenny Saville, Courtesy Of The Artist And Gagosian | © The Artists And Edinburgh Art Festival
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Women Take the Reins at Edinburgh’s Biggest Art Festival This Year

Picture of Tori Chalmers
Updated: 28 March 2018
Part of Edinburgh’s inimitable buzz owes credit to its enviable status as the world’s leading festival city. As the UK’s only annual festival solely committed to the visual arts, the Edinburgh Art Festival certainly stands out. The partner exhibition programme, which is paving the way for a memorable 15th edition, has just been announced, and it champions both rising stars and leading luminaries. Once more, women stand at the forefront of this creative outpouring.

More than that, this beloved Edinburgh festival provides a voice for artists to address issues, big or small, on topics such as politics, climate change, racism and gender equality. Here, we give you our 2018 edit of the pioneering solo shows that feature works by leading contemporary female artists.

Phyllida Barlow: quarry

Famous for her striking large-scale sculptures, prominent British artist Phyllida Barlow is set to open the 10th-anniversary programme with quarry at Jupiter Artland. Found in the wooded area of Jupiter, this multi-part commission will entail three sculptural objects – two brooding columns and a ‘mountainous flight of ruined steps’ – that, of course, feature Barlow’s signature textural surfaces. Complete with stunning images, a book journaling the commission’s creative process will also be available.

Seasonal Openings May 12 – September 30, 2018

Phyllida Barlow in her studio 2
Phyllida Barlow In Her Studio | © Phyllida Barlow

Tacita Dean

To celebrate EAF’s 15th edition, the Fruitmarket Gallery will showcase artwork by Tacita Dean, a renowned visual artist and key figure of the Young British Artists praised for her work in film. The exhibition in question looks at performance as the theme and its relationship with ‘narrative, the imagination and the collective effort of artist and audience in film, theatre, drawing and photogravure’.

July 7 – September 30, 2018

Joana Vasconcelos: Gateway

Yet another highlight of the 2018 exhibition programme at Jupiter Artland is Gateway by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. Praised for her surreal colossal sculptures, Vasconcelos tackles socio-political issues such as gender violence and immigration while working with domestic objects that range from plastic cutlery and irons to sanitary products and saucepans. Showcased in the Ballroom Garden, Vasconcelos explores disparate notions of femininity and gender in Carmen Miranda, her large-scale stiletto replica comprised of concrete and stainless-steel pans.

May 12 – September 30, 2018

30b_CIVermelho2005_DMF_F (1)
Red Independent Heart #3, 2008, Photograph | © Joana Vasconcelos

Melanie Gilligan: The Common Sense

Edinburgh College of Art will play host to The Common Sense, a dystopian drama by Melanie Gilligan split into 15 brief segments. This visual artwork is set in a disconcerting yet recognisable future, where new modes of technology are inextricably linked with every aspect of humanity, informing and dictating all societal relationships and networks. But when such technologies go awry, an ugly truth awaits.

July 26 – August 26, 2018

Lucy Skaer: The Green Man

Deemed as her most prominent work yet, Scottish contemporary artist and former GSA graduate Lucy Skaer’s solo exhibition The Green Man is destined to turn heads. Produced by Talbot Rice Gallery, this major exhibition will feature newly commissioned work in tandem with recent work, which has never before been on display in the UK. Also featured will be exhibits from invited guests and drawings of objects from Edinburgh University’s impressive collections.

July 27 – October 6, 2018

Talbot Rice - 04 KNIGHT-Skaer-SticksStones-4429
‘The Green Man’ | © Nick Knight / Courtesy Of Peter Feldman

Victoria Crowe: A Certain Light

Presented by The Scottish Gallery, A Certain Light celebrates brand-new works by Scottish artist Victoria Crowe. Renowned for her expertise in portrait and landscape painting, A Certain Light explores the shifting ways of light in the natural world, as expressed in her moonlight paintings, shadow-adorned snow-dusted hillsides and convivial dancing sun rays sweeping over Venetian waters. Crowe stated that ‘the recent paintings attempt to capture the intensity of a moment’s vision or response and to preserve it forever, like memory. I want the work to have a timeless, resonate quality.’

August 2 – September 1, 2018

Victoria Crowe: Beyond Likeness

Displayed at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Beyond Likeness is a collection of captivating artworks by Victoria Crowe. These discerning portraits stand out in that they divulge both a professional and personal side of the artist’s own narrative and include depictions of major figures in the realms of art and science – think medical scientist Dame Janet Vaughan to poet Kathleen Raine, actor Graham Crowden and composer Ronald Stevenson. Beyond Likeness provides insight into the subject’s innermost dreams, desires and thoughts while demonstrating one artist’s complete mastery of painting and colour.

May 12 – November 18, 2018

Ronald Stevenson 1928 - 2015
‘Beyond Likeness’ | © Victoria Crowe / Courtesy Of National Galleries Of Scotland

Siobhan Healy: Biodiversity

A thought-provoking product of her time as an Artist in Residence at ECA, Siobhan Healy collaborated with artist and writer Alasdair Gray to create Biodiversity. Inspired and informed by the protected species in Edinburgh’s Geddes Garden, the tiny sculptures on show at Edinburgh College of Art are crafted from glass and precious metals to symbolise the mortality and sacred nature of endangered species.

July 26 – August 26, 2018

Jenny Saville: NOW

Spread across five rooms at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Modern One, the third instalment of NOW focuses on distinguished British contemporary artist and GSA graduate Jenny Saville. This instalment acknowledges Saville’s ambition and includes some of her most notable pieces, including paintings and drawings created between 1992 and 2017. Works surrounding themes of body, performance, process and materiality by Sara Barker, Christine Borland, Robin Rhode, Markus Schinwald and Catherine Street will also feature in this edition of NOW.

March 24 – September 16, 2018

NGS - SAVILLE Rosetta II 2006
Rosetta II, 2005 – 2006, Oil On Watercolour Paper Mounted On Board, 252 x 187.5cm | © Jenny Saville / Courtesy Of The Artist And Gagosian

About Edinburgh Art Festival

Year upon year, this truly special celebration of visual art unites the foremost galleries, artist-run spaces and museums in Scotland’s capital with a constellation of historic and contemporary masterpieces spanning all styles. Since its inception in 2004, the Edinburgh Art Festival has served as a podium for artists to extend the frontiers of innovation and for locals and visitors alike to experience the powerful, moving vehicle for change and action that is art.