Arts

'Spirit of 47' - A Member of the Edinburgh International Festival Audience for 70 Years Looks Back.

The theme of the 70th Edinburgh International Festival this year is remembering the ‘Spirit of 47’. Among the audience is at least one faithful festival-goer who was there at the start - my uncle David Kemp. 

Here are some of David’s reminiscences of his many Festivals, stretching back to those post-war years when the colour and beauty of art returned to a traumatised world.

David Kemp outside the Usher Hall, Edinburgh before the Mariinsky/ RSNO concert on 23/08/2017

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Finding Art in the News.

Real newspapers can be used for many things that their digital counterparts never could - from lining the veg box to making paper boats and beyond. Artist Jane Couroussopoulos finds a novel use for the pile of old Guardians she keeps in her studio, turning them into works of art.

 

Jane and Poppy in the studio.

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Drinking, Feasting, Fighting, Wearing Bling - the Celts Come to Town

Detail from the Gundestrup Cauldron, circa 100BC, Denmark.

Images courtesy of the British Museum and the NMS

Celts could be weird and scary. They were mad for the drink and when they had it, you had to watch out for them: they saw things and became aggressive. They were radge fighters, absolutely mental, they dressed up to go into battle and they played great big war horns that made a sound that would scare the living daylights out of you. And they liked bling, loved it actually: gold, bronze, iron, glass, precious stones. They wore chunky jewellery decorated with abstract patterns and symbols. They were skilled at metalwork, leatherwork, pottery and weaving and if something precious was broken, they would mend it - a bronze flagon with a broken handle would get a different handle, or a hole would be fixed with a decorated patch, and made as good as new - better in fact. Oh and they loved parties and feasting; the women were great hosts and they were buried with their special pots and flagons, probably so they could use them for a big after-party on the other side.

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Two Exhibitions: "Doppelhanger" at MOBA and "Frances Stark" at MFA



I laughed more in my short visit to the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) - than I can remember doing at an art gallery. But the experience was not only amusing; it helped me to reflect upon the curatorial process at work in all art galleries, and to reach a conclusion about the Frances Stark retrospective which is currently on show at Boston’s Museum of Fine Art.

The current MOBA exhibition is entitled “doppelhanger” and features portraits which bear an intended or accidental  resemblance to a famous person. My guide, Louise Reilly, pointed to “Sunday on the Pot with George” (above).

“This is one of my all time favorites. Pointillism is difficult. Why would anyone expend that much energy painting a middle-aged man in his tighty whities sitting on a toilet?” And look” she pointed to where the portrait ends, at the subject’s ankles, where either by accident or design the painter has avoided having to include those challenging feet.

Read more: Two Exhibitions: "Doppelhanger" at MOBA and "Frances Stark" at MFA

Creativity and Courage: An Exhibition of Women's Art



Catterline in Winter. Joan Eardley. Images Courtesy of the National Galleries of Scotland

 There are many powerful pieces in the current exhibition of Modern Scottish Women’s Art from the late Victorian era to the early 60s and the show casts light on the challenges that women artist faced.

They had to contend with barriers such as the bar on married women’s employment and the misogyny which meant they were not admitted to bodies like the RSA. There was prejudice from families which made it harder to train and caring responsibilities which absorbed their time and emotional energy.

But these were strong women all of whom earned at least a partial living from their endeavours as artists and this exhibition is a rare opportunity to see their often unfairly neglected work.

Read more: Creativity and Courage: An Exhibition of Women's Art