No matter where you are in Edinburgh, you’re never too far from an art gallery – I live in the Old Town and the nearest one is, according to Google maps, a grand total of 41 seconds away. Last weekend I decided to spend a day checking out a few of the great exhibitions currently showing at different art galleries around the city, and best of all (given my post-Christmas shopping budget) they were all totally free! Here are my personal picks from Edinburgh’s winter art season: while some have just opened, others are in their final weeks, so catch them before Christmas if you can.
Whitespace Gallery on Gayfield Square is currently hosting Cattle, a Kickstarter-funded exhibition by self-taught Edinburgh artist Sally Fisher. Inspired by Scotland’s wildlife and nature, her oil paintings of cows are full of personality with a fantastic use of colour – the blue-tinged Friesian and the floppy-fringed Highland Cow are my personal favourites. (Until 12 December)
For those still pondering their Christmas shopping, tapestry factory Dovecot Studios is exhibiting a great range of art, jewellery and crafts at Selected, a selling exhibition by artists and designers working all over Scotland. I was tempted by Glasgow-based Karen Suzuki’s wacky textile seagull perched atop a sandwich board, Susan O’Byrne’s patterned ceramic animals, and Anna S. King’s hand-woven baskets made from natural materials, to name just a few. (Until 21 December)
The Ingleby Gallery’s Once Upon a Time and a Very Good Time It Was… spans several eras: dotted between light installations and paintings by 16 contemporary artists such as Peter Liversidge and Harland Miller, you’ll find Buddha heads, tribal tools and ornate stone panels dating back several centuries. The juxtaposition of ancient and modern is really interesting, reminding us that contemporary art has its roots in ancient practises. (Until 21 December)
Summerhall have recently opened a selection of eight new exhibitions as part of their winter season. I particularly liked Jerry’s Map by Jerry Gretzinger, an enormous map of an imaginary world more than 50 years in the making, and The Dark Would, a language art exhibition curated by poet Phillip Davenport. Mini exhibition Funch, the story of a polar bear and his ninja wife by Edinburgh-based illustrator Ryoko Tamura, is also a great choice for kids big and small. (All until 24 January)
Lions and Leithers are the current guests of honour at City Art Centre, showing both Exploring the Lion King and a Citizen Curator exhibition honouring the seaside neighbourhood of Leith. Coinciding with the show’s run at the Edinburgh Playhouse, Exploring the Lion King gives a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the musical and is sure to fascinate those with an interest in costume or set design, as well as fans of the movie. (Until 12 January)
Citizen Curator: Discovering Leith’s Artistic Heritage brings together an eclectic variety of pieces in honour of the colourful area, including Hibs (Hibernian FC) and The Proclaimers memorabilia, Sunshine on Leith posters, an exclusive documentary made with black and minority ethnic young women’s group Young Saheliya, and artwork by Leith Academy pupils – anyone who’s ever wandered down Leith Walk will see something they recognise here. (Until 23 February)
If you’re outside Edinburgh, make sure you check out our guide to galleries in Scotland, creative itineraries and events listings for things to see and do in your area, and feel free to leave us a comment with your own recommendations for exhibitions and events.