Market News: Edinburgh Art Festival offers work from Scottish artists

Some of the shows have opened already, but officially the Edinburgh Art Festival – that’s for visual arts as opposed to the more famous one for performing arts, which has separate funding – begins on Thursday.


Richard Ingleby, one of the trustees, particularly welcomes the Scottish Government’s Expo funding this year, which has allowed the commissioning of works that will have a life in Edinburgh beyond the festival itself.

These include permanent works by two Scottish former Turner Prize winners – Martin Creed’s The Scotsman Steps, in which the artist has marbled each step of a historic public stairway in the city, and Richard Wright’s Stairwell Project, in which the artist has painted tiny organic shapes on the walls and ceiling of a stairwell in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Ingleby’s gallery, meanwhile, sells art, and this year presents Mystics or Rationalists?, works by conceptual artists that place objects in unexpected contexts and therefore require interpretation. A room full of 288 moonlight bulbs by Katie Paterson has been calculated to give light for the length of the average human’s lifespan – and will then go out. Cerith Wynn Evans’s chandelier speaks to the viewer by flickering in response to morse code signals. Prices range from £150 for a Paterson print to £85,000 for Evans’s chandelier.

In more traditional mode, Bourne Fine Art presents an ambitious display covering 500 years of Scottish portraiture. Most of the works have been acquired privately, so are fresh to the market. Prices range from £7,500 for a wild and woolly self-portrait by contemporary artist Jock McFadyen to a six-figure sum for an elegant 18th-century portrait of the Hunter Blair Family by David Allan, which has already been sold. In between is a splendid array of kings, earls, countesses and worthies by Raeburn, Ramsay et al, which can be bought for between £8,500 and £95,000.

Two modern Scottish stalwarts are celebrated this year. Coinciding with her retrospective at the Scottish National Gallery, Elizabeth Blackadder is exhibiting her latest works at the Scottish Gallery, where they are priced from £1,000 to £32,000, while the multi-talented John Byrne, who illustrated album covers for the Beatles and Gerry Rafferty, and scripted the award-winning TV series Tutti Frutti, has an exhibition of paintings at the Open Eye Gallery (see picture above), where prices will range from £800 to £15,000.

Scottish sculptor David Mach has his first big museum show at the City Art Centre, and, while it is a museum show, a discreet inquiry through one of his agents, such as London’s Jill George Gallery, reveals that nearly all of it is for sale. Coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, Mach has made some cinematic-sized biblical collages that are priced from £10,000 to £150,000, while coat-hanger sculptures range from £30,000 to £500,000 for the very large Crucifixion.

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