Image of Graham Fagen's work, A Drama in Time, made up of 5 neon illustrations under bridge. The entrance to Jacob's Ladder sits on the left.

2016 Commissions Programme Announced

Press Release

On the occasion of the unveiling of the major new commission, Dazzle Ship Scotland, Edinburgh Art Festival are delighted to announce the seven new commissions that will form the 2016 Commissions Programme, bringing together artists working in Scotland and internationally. In Scotland’s ‘Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design’, the programme explores one of the most important points of intersection for art and architecture in our city: the monument. 

Dazzle Ship Scotland, co-commissioned by EAF and 14-18 NOW, is the first of EAF’s public art commissions to be unveiled. Entitled Every Woman, Turner Prize-nominated artist and long-term resident of Scotland, Ciara Phillips, has developed a striking design to adorn the iconic vessel MV Fingal, celebrating the role of women during the First World War and commemorating the battle-ready ships that were docked at Leith 100 years ago. 

The title of the full EAF 2016 Commissions Programme this year is More Lasting than Bronze, referring to Horace’s Ode 3.30, in which the Roman poet boasts that he has ‘built a monument more lasting than bronze’. As communities around the world begin to question the value of monuments to certain individuals (most recently Cecil Rhodes in Oxford), More Lasting than Bronze explores what and how societies choose to publicly commemorate, as well as reflecting on some of those voices or individuals who are not remembered with a monument. 

Through film, sound and light, as well as the more familiar monumental form of marble statuary, the seven projects explore issues as varied as gender and age diversity, and highlight people and voices who have been deliberately written out of history. Many of the works have been inspired by the city and architecture of Edinburgh itself, drawing parallels between the contemporary and historical city. 

The festival is also delighted to announce details of the artists participating in Platform: 2016. This new exhibition platform, supporting artists at the beginning of their careers to take part in the festival, was initiated in 2015. The second edition is selected by artists Rachel Maclean and Ross Sinclair.

Highlights of EAF’s 2016 Commissions Programme include: 

  • Dazzle Ship Scotland: A major co-commission between EAF and 14-18 NOW that will play a central role in the nationwide commemorations of the centenary of WW1. Glasgow-based Ciara Phillips’ Every Woman, celebrates the role of women in the First World War. 
  • Bani Abidi’s immersive sound installation exploring through song and poetry the true stories and experiences of Indian soldiers who fought in WW1, uncovering real life voices that have been forgotten, censored and ignored. 
  • Olivia Webb’s Voices Project which will re-present a ‘live monument’ originally made to re-energise community spaces in Christchurch that had been affected by the devastating 2011 earthquakes in her native New Zealand, including a new iteration for Edinburgh. 
  • A filmed portrait of the Irish historian Owen Dudley Edwards by Roderick Buchanan, exploring the historian’s lifelong engagement with the work and ideas of James Connolly, born in Edinburgh and executed in Dublin a hundred years ago, for his role in the Easter Rising. The work will be presented in the church in which Connolly was baptised, at the centre of Edinburgh’s ‘Little Ireland’ in the 19th Century. 
  • A major new work reinterpreting the depiction of the female nude in sculpture by Jonathan Owen, allowing rare access for festival visitors to the interior of the Burns Monument. 
  • A new neon installation by the internationally renowned Scottish artist Graham Fagen, which draws on histories that have shaped the city’s forms and ideas. 
  • Sally Hackett’s reinterpretation of The Fountain of Youth; a reflection on the under representation of younger generations within Edinburgh’s many monuments. 
  • Four new bodies of work for Platform: 2016 by emerging artists The Brownlee Brothers, Paloma Proudfoot & Aniela Piasecka, Dorian Jose Braun and Jack Saunders. 

Sorcha Carey, Director of Edinburgh Art Festival, said:
“On the occasion of the launch of Ciara Phillips’ Every Woman, co-commissioned with 14-18 NOW as part of a nationwide commemoration of the centenary of the First World War, we are delighted to reveal full details of our 2016 commissions programme, which this year reflects on the role of monuments in our city. More Lasting than Bronze brings together 7 artists working in Scotland and internationally to reflect on how we collectively commemorate individuals and events, and in tune with a programme which sheds light on histories and individuals who are not well remembered in the official records, we are delighted to continue to present work in several sites across the city which are not usually open to the public.” 

Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW said: 
“Every Woman is an amazing piece of visual art that also gives occasion to reflect on a crucial moment when art contributed to saving lives in the First World War. It is wonderful to be working with Edinburgh Art Festival and Scottish Government to present Ciara’s extraordinary design in the place where the first bedazzled war-ready ships were docked 100 years ago” 

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said: 
“This year’s programme offers a diverse selection of outstanding exhibitions and events, and plays a vital role in widening access to the arts. During Scotland’s ‘Year of Architecture’, the festival will also promote our impressive buildings, heritage, and culture.” 

Amanda Catto, Head of Visual Arts, Creative Scotland, said: 
“We would like to congratulate the Edinburgh Art Festival and the invited artists on the announcement of these new works for the 2016 Festival. This is a thoughtful programme that invites us to consider acts of public commemoration and remembrance. The works are set to be highly engaging, and Edinburgh with her vast and varied collection of monuments, provides the perfect backdrop.” 

More Lasting than Bronze | EAF 2016 Commissions 

A major highlight of the programme will be unveiled tomorrow, 25 May 2016. Ciara Phillips’ Every Woman is co-commissioned by Edinburgh Art Festival and 14-18 NOW with support from the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, City of Edinburgh Council, the Royal Yacht Britannia, the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and by the Department for Culture Media and Sport. Dazzle was a technique invented by the British marine artist Norman Wilkinson during the war where ships were covered in abstract designs and disorientating shapes to prevent the enemy from determining their range, speed and direction of travel. Entitled Every Woman, the new work takes Phillips’ typical medium of screen-printing to a new scale as she covers the entire surface of the ship with a bold gestural design. 

In developing her design for Dazzle, Phillips was drawn to the largely untold histories of women in the First World War, inspired by the team of women who worked under Wilkinson to develop the dazzle designs. Women also worked as telegraphists and signallers, and Phillips’ design includes a message in Morse code embedded within the design in retro reflective paint reading ‘Every Woman a Signal Tower’. The message will shine out in the darkness, celebrating the ship’s former role as a supplier to remote lighthouses. 

Edinburgh-based artist Jonathan Owen will present a new work in the iconic Burns Monument situated on Calton Hill. The temple-like structure has been empty for almost 180 years and closed to the public for much of this time, since the sculpture originally commissioned to commemorate Burns was removedin 1839. Jonathan Owen has reworked a life-size nineteenth century statue of a nymph, re-carving her torso into a series of interlinked chains. Together the work and the site invite reflection on how we immortalise and commemorate as a society. 

Scottish artist Roderick Buchanan presents Understanding versus Sympathy; a film that reflects on the intertwined lives of two great figures in Scottish public life: the Irish historian Owen Dudley Edwards, and the international socialist leader and theorist, James Connolly, a figure widely commemorated across Ireland for his role in the 1916 Easter Rising, but less publicly remembered in the city of Edinburgh where he was born. Presented in the church that was at the centre of Edinburgh’s ‘Little Ireland’ in the 19th Century, this newly commissioned artwork reflects a growing awareness in Scotland of Connolly’s intellectual place in European history. 

Graham Fagen will create A Drama in Time, a light installation and monument for the city of Edinburgh. The piece will be realised in neon, illuminating the pavements below Calton Road/New Street Railway Bridge, and explores the journey of life. Fagen’s work is inspired by Edinburgh’s Jacob’s Ladder a stairway under the bridge, that leads up from the Old to the New Town, named after the Biblical staircase connecting earth with heaven. It borrows its title from Patrick Geddes, who famously described a city as ‘more than a place in space, it is a drama in time’. 

Sally Hackett will create a monument dedicated to the youth of today. In her lively and humorous style, Hackett will create a ‘modern day’ ceramic Fountain of Youth. Referencing the legend of Hero of Alexandria (1st C AD) which describes water as containing miraculous and sacred properties, the new work hints at the commercial value we have come to place on water and the part it plays in youth enhancing products. The Fountain of Youth will be made in collaboration with a local school and will be displayed in the Courtyard of the Museum of Edinburgh. 

Trinity Apse will house a reinterpretation of The Voices Project; a ‘living monument’ conceived by the New Zealand based artist Olivia Webb in reaction to the devastating earthquake in Christchurch in 2011. The work was performed in community spaces in New Zealand where buildings had been lost or relocated following the earthquakes, bringing together local residents to form community choirs who learned and developed a piece of choral music chosen by Webb. Webb has reworked recordings of these performances into a sound installation which she presents in her first UK exhibition alongside new video footage of interviews and participants of the community choirs around Christchurch. The artist will also run workshops for the duration of the festival, which are open to everyone, and which will culminate in a presentation of a new work in the final weekend of the festival.
A powerful and emotive sound installation from Pakistani artist Bani Abidi will draw on the words of London-based poet Amarjit Chandan in Memorial to Lost Words. The installation brings together two sets of voices that were generally overlooked in official accounts of the First World War: folksongs sung by women living in the Punjab imploring their fathers, husbands and sons not to go to war, woven with the voices of Indian soldiers whose letters sent home to families, describing the horrors of the war were censored, never reaching their recipients. Memorial to Lost Words creates a platform for these unheard and overlooked participants in the First World War, in a newly composed song recorded by Abidi with folk singers in Pakistan. The work will be exhibited at the Old Royal High School. 


Following the success of last year’s inaugural exhibition, EAF is delighted to announce details of the second year of this festival initiative, which is dedicated to providing greater opportunities for artists at the beginning of their careers. Four artists or collectives from across Scotland were selected to participate in this year’s project by a panel that included artists Ross Sinclair and Rachel MacLean. 

The Brownlee Brothers, Calum and Fraser, will present a darkly humorous work that incorporates a wide range of references including prison tattoos, sigils, and recognizable trademarks, to highlight the power of motifs and the ways they are used to construct social hierarchies.
A new work by Edinburgh-based Paloma Proudfoot & Aniela PiaseckaMade to be Broken will combine sculptural objects with a series of performances, to explore the destructive force that is central to creation. 

Dorian Jose Braun will present In Alto and Bass, 2015, a restored version of his sound-based work, remastered in collaboration with Bob Whitney, the recording studio engineer from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. In Alto and Bass re-contextualizes text taken from the Prologue of Goethe’s play, ‘Faust’ (1831), which poetically imagines the sound of the sun. 

Jack Saunders will present a new body of text and image work reflecting on ideas of life as a chain, in which things come and go, that reflects the artist’s interest in exploring and exploiting the different tones and strategies surrounding language and media. 


Notes to Editors 

Founded in 2004, Edinburgh Art Festival is the UK’s largest annual festival of visual art, offering the chance to experience the best contemporary Scottish, UK and international artists in the context of exhibitions of some of the most important artists and movements of the 20th Century and historical periods. Attracting nearly 300,000 attendances in 2015, Edinburgh Art Festival (EAF) brings together the capital’s leading galleries, museums and artist-run spaces, alongside new public art commissions by established and emerging artists and an innovative programme of special events. Edinburgh Art Festival is a charitable organization supported by Creative Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council. 

14-18 NOW is a programme of extraordinary arts experiences connecting people with the First World War, as part of the UK’s official centenary commemorations. It aims to engage as many people as possible with the First World War, exploring how the war has impacted on the society we live in now. 14-18 NOW commissions new work by leading contemporary artists from all art forms, inspired by the period 1914-1918. The commemorative period is marked by three key seasons – the first season centred around 4 August 2014 (Anniversary of the Declaration of War), the second is March to November 2016 (anniversary of the Battle of Jutland and the Battle of the Somme) and the last in 2018 (centenary of Armistice Day). 14-18 NOW is responsible for the UK tour of the iconic poppy sculptures by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper. 14 -18 NOW is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England and by additional fundraising. 14-18 NOW has commissioned over 80 artworks to date that have been seen by over 20 million people. 

The Scottish Government Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund recognises the exceptional creative talent that exists in Scotland and gives it an international platform on which to excel. It is available to all 12 festivals to support the development of Scottish-based work. The Scottish Government is proud to support the festival via the Expo Fund and have provided £140,000 this year to bring innovative work from artists in Scotland and internationally to new audiences and venues. A further £50,000 has also been provided to support bringing the first Dazzle Ship to Scotland to mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland. 

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit Follow us @creativescots and 

The City of Edinburgh Council is a funding partner for Edinburgh Art Festival. The Council accommodates the organisation at City Art Centre and provides regular use of Trinity Apse and other Council owned property for festival activities. The Council aims to maintain and build on Edinburgh’s reputation as the ideal location for major events and festivals. Working with the city’s cultural sector, the Council’s arts development team ensures that arts play a vital and lasting role in Edinburgh by developing strategic policy, offering advice on cultural projects and awarding cultural grants. 

EventScotland is working to make Scotland the perfect stage for events. By developing an exciting portfolio of sporting and cultural events EventScotland is helping to raise Scotland’s international profile and boost the economy by attracting more visitors. EventScotland is part of VisitScotland, the national tourism organisation which markets Scotland as a tourism destination across the world, gives support to the tourism industry and brings sustainable tourism growth to Scotland. The 2016 Edinburgh Art Festival is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2014 to 2020. The Scottish Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme. For further information about EventScotland, its funding programmes and latest event news visit Follow EventScotland on Twitter @EventScotNews. 

British Council’s mission is to build long-term international relationships and trust between the people of Scotland and other countries through the exchange of ideas, knowledge and information in the arts and education. British Council’s involvement in the arts arena stretches back to 1947 when we helped to found the Edinburgh International Festival and every year we continue to work on new and exciting cultural projects connecting Scotland and the world. For further information please visit or follow on Twitter @BCScotland 

DCMS: 4 August 2014 marked 100 years since the start of the First World War. In recognition of this significant milestone the Government is leading a five-year commemorative programme of national ceremonial events, cultural and educational activity and community engagement. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, DCMS, manages this cross government programme working with key delivery partners including Imperial War Museums, 14-18 NOW, Arts Council, Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England. 

Heritage Lottery Fund: Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery #UnderstandingWW1 

Other HLF-funded First World War projects include: 
– First World War Galleries, Imperial War Museum London – £6.5m 
– The Yorkshire Film Archive – £52,400 
– HMS Caroline, the last surviving First World War battleship – £12m 
– Herts at War – £98,400 
– 1914 London B-type ‘Battle’ Bus, which drove out to the Western Front – £750,000 

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. 

First World War Centenary Partnership: 2014 – 2018 marks the centenary of the First World War, a landmark anniversary for Britain and the world. IWM is marking the centenary by leading a vibrant, five-year programme of cultural activities across the world. This year is the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. IWM will be announcing its programme to mark the anniversary later this year. For more information visit

Edinburgh World Heritage (EWH) is a charity with the role of conserving, enhancing and promoting the city’s World Heritage Site. EWH administers a Conservation Funding Programme, with funding provided by Historic Scotland, which acts as a catalyst encouraging others to invest in the city’s built heritage. Last year £179,384 was awarded through the programme, which attracted a further £792,179 of expenditure on the city’s historic buildings and streets. In other words, for every £1 EWH receives from the public, a further £5 is leveraged from other sources. 

The New Waverley Community Fund is a partnership between City of Edinburgh Council and Artisan Real Estate Investors 

The Saltire Society seeks to encourage everything that might improve the quality of life in Scotland. It works to preserve all that is best in Scottish traditions and to encourage new developments which can strengthen and enrich the country’s cultural life. It acts as a catalyst, celebrant and commentator through an annual programme of awards, lectures, debates and projects. Founded in 1936 is a non-political independent charity with membership branches throughout Scotland. Membership of the 

Saltire Society is open to all individuals and organisations that support the aims of the Society. More information here: 

Forth Ports is a dynamic port group which owns and operates eight commercial ports in the UK – six on the Firth of Forth – Leith, Grangemouth, Rosyth, Methil, Burntisland and Kirkcaldy – Dundee on the Firth of Tay; and Tilbury on the Thames. Within and around the Firths of Forth and Tay, Forth Ports Limited manages and operates an area of 280 square miles of navigable waters, including two specialised marine terminals for oil and gas export and provides other marine services, such as towage and conservancy. / @forthports 

WW100 Scotland: The Scottish Commemorations Panel was appointed by Scottish Ministers in 2013 to recommend key dates and events in World War One which had a particular significance for Scotland. Comprising experts from the military and veterans communities, community leaders, clergy, media, historians and education specialists, the Panel was tasked with creating a programme of events that would honour the sacrifice of Scottish servicemen and women, reflect on the global impact of WW1 and on the domestic effects of the war during 1914-1918. By balancing remembrance with encouraging a spirit of research and inquiry (through education and genealogy), the aim is to leave a lasting legacy.

The Queen’s former floating palace, The Royal Yacht Britannia, in Leith, Edinburgh, has been Scotland’s Best Attraction (VisitScotland) for 10 years’ running and in TripAdvisor’s top 10 in the UK for 4 years. One of the most famous ships in the world, for over 40 years, sailing a million miles around the globe, on a thousand official visits, Britannia played host to glittering state banquets and official receptions, as a majestic symbol and trade ambassador for the Commonwealth. To The Queen and 220 crew, Britannia was home. Now with 5 fully accessible decks, visitors can follow in the footsteps of royalty, with an audio tour in 27 languages. Britannia is owned by a charitable trust and all surplus funds are reinvested in preserving the Royal Yacht for future generations. 

Programme Supporters

The Scottish Government
Creative Scotland
Edinburgh City Council
14-18 NOW
Edinburgh World Heritage
New Waverley Edinburgh
Network Rail
The Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh
Forth Ports
British Council
Saltire Society Scotland
Adopt an Intern
a-n The Artists Information Co.
Event Scotland
The University of Edinburgh
Arts Council of New Zealand

Media Partners

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