Sarah Kenchington helps a young artist float a raft during Edinburgh Art Festival's Canal Connections event. Photo: Julie Howden.

Art starts here: Edinburgh Art Festival returns for its 18th edition

Edinburgh Art Festival  today announces the programme for its 18th edition – including three major commissions, the Associate Artist programme, Platform: 2022, the festival’s annual showcase of early career visual artists, and thirty-five exhibitions across its partner galleries. 

A city-wide celebration of the very best in visual art, the festival brings together the capital’s leading galleries, museums and established spaces. From photography documenting Frida Kahlo’s wardrobe to carnival-inspired performance art, the programme features international artists alongside exciting new voices from Scotland, the rest of the UK and beyond. 

The festival’s  Commissions programme including their Associate Artist programme  supports renowned artists to create ambitious new work. Marking the 200th anniversary of the Union Canal, the programme takes inspiration from ‘The Wave of Translation’ – a scientific phenomenon discovered in Edinburgh. 

In 1834, engineer John Scott Russell watched as a horse-drawn canal boat came to a stop at Hermiston on the Union Canal. This abrupt stop created a single wave which continued along the waterway holding its shape and speed. Russell’s recording and research of this phenomenon influenced the development of modern fibre optic technology.  He described the wave as his ‘first chance encounter with that singular and beautiful phenomenon which I have called the Wave of Translation’

The programmes unfold along the Union Canal, from the Lochrin Basin to Wester Hailes. In collaboration with local residents and WHALE Arts, Edinburgh Art Festival has been supporting new opportunities for art creation and learning since 2019. 

For the festival, we present a major commission with a group of residents from Wester Hailes and local surrounding areas. The Community Wellbeing Collective present Watch this Space – a space for all to develop together and to experience what community wellbeing is and could be. Throughout the festival the space will host activities and gatherings led by C.W.C. members, alongside weekend anchor events by invited guests expanding upon the context of community wellbeing, discussing its wider politics in relation to: democratising social care, healing through creativity, who wellbeing is for in an unequal world and collectively imagining the future of community. Anchor events by Care and Support Workers ORGANISE!, Grass Roots Remedies, Jess Haygarth, The Spit it Out Project, and more. 

The activity will take place in Westside Plaza and online at (live from 28 July), including short films capturing the essence of the project presented at the French Institute for Scotland and online. Follow @communitywellbeingcollective on Instagram for more. 

Jeanne van Heeswijk – a renowned a visual artist who initiated the project – will also present this year’s  Keynote Lecture – in partnership with the National Galleries of Scotland and British Council Scotland – as a highlight of the festival’s opening weekend. 

The commission is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Finding Buoyancy is produced through collaboration with groups and individuals in Wester Hailes, alongside Glasgow based artists Pester and Rossi. Exploring ways that we can connect to the natural environment to help us stay buoyant in uncertain times, the project began with a guided audio journey called  Finding Buoyancy – Sound Meditations(2021) inviting group members from WHALE Arts to creatively share responses to the canal.  

For the festival, three elements anchor the commission – a set of publicly sited sails at Bridge 8 Hub and Paddle Café illustrating the voices and ideas of those living, working and playing on the canal; a community raft (Float For The Future ) made collaboratively with artist Sarah Kenchington; and a canal-based performance produced with local people in collaboration with Rhubaba Choir. 

Co-commissioned by Edinburgh Art Festival and Edinburgh Printmakers, Montreal-based First Nations artist Nadia Myre will present Tell Me of Your Boats and Your Waters – Where Do They Come From, Where Do They Go? . Across print, performance and sound, Myre explores reference points spanning Scotland and Canada, migratory routes starting on the canal, indigenous storytelling, archival research methods, pattern, prose and song lyrics. The work, which will be sited alongside the canal and in Gallery 2 at Edinburgh Printmakers, brings to the fore the decolonial impulse inherent in the artist’s practice. 

This year’s Associate Artist, Emmie McLuskey, will lead a programme of artists to respond to the rich site of the Union Canal between Lochrin Basin and Wester Hailes, in a series of commissions that explore environment, translation and gentrification. The Glasgow-based artist, producer and writer has developed a programme of newly commissioned work which spans performance, sound, graphic design and dance. The invited artists aim to raise questions around history, land, water, trade, capitalism and redundant technology.  

Each of the commissioned artists centres people and place within a deep desire to work responsively to site. Hannan Jones explores language, rhythm and origin in response to cultural and social migration through sound, installation, film and performance. Janice Parker’s work in choreography and dance is collaborative with people, place and context. Parker is known for her socially engaged practice across various art forms and media. Amanda Thomson’s interdisciplinary work often concerns notions of home, movement, migration, landscapes, the natural world and how places come to be made. Designer Maeve Redmond’s research-led practice begins in the archive and attempts to unpack how the wider context of site informs how we aesthetically experience a place. 

A print and radio project entitled Background Noise will accompany this series, featuring local and international contributions. 

The Associate Artist programme will take place along the Union Canal and online, with further details to be announced. 

At the French Institute for Scotland – the festival’s headquarters on the Royal Mile – Platform: 2022 will showcase another exciting cohort of emerging visual artists working in Scotland. This year, the annual showcase has been selected by artist Lucy Skaer researcher and curator Seán Elder, alongside Director of Dundee Contemporary Arts, Beth Bate.  

In Saoirse Amira Anis’ (graduated Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, 2018) video and textile installation, she taps into her dual heritage by using materials and plants from Moroccan and Scottish cuisines to explore rituals of sharing, and the generosity of love provided by the hands. Emelia Kerr Beale (Edinburgh College of Art, 2019) will take the speculative history of The Major Oak Tree as their starting point, as a metaphor for the ways in which disabled people are denied rights to speak as experts about their conditions.  

Engaging with the materiality and physicality of paintings as objects, Lynsey MacKenzie (Glasgow School of Art, 2019) explores ideas of time, repetition, and memory, through shifting planes of colour, gesture, and scale. Jonny Walker (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, 2017) considers impermanence and the body through the making of several lambs, placed across a large metal, patchwork blanket in varying states of erosion and collapse. 

Platform: 2022 runs at the French Institute for Scotland from 28 July to 28 August.  

Closing the festival, sculptor and contemporary artist Hew Locke will deliver the Endnote Lecture. Locke’s Duveen Hall commission for Tate Britain, The Procession, opened in March this year, and in September 2022 his work Gilt will be unveiled as the Façade Commission for The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He will be in conversation with Dr Maryam Ohadi-Hamadani, Department of Art History, University of Edinburgh at St Cecilia’s Hall. The Endnote Lecture is presented in partnership with British Council Scotland. 

Our Commissions programme and Platform: 2022 are made possible thanks to the generous support of the Scottish Government’s Festivals EXPO Fund; EventScotland; and the PLACE Programme, a partnership between the Scottish Government, the City of Edinburgh Council, and the Edinburgh Festivals, supported and administered by Creative Scotland.

Watch this Space is additionally supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 

Platform: 2022 is additionally supported by Cruden and the L’Institut français d’Écosse. 

Across the partner programme, the festival celebrates artists and collectives who paved the way for new ideas and looks towards future voices in the visual arts.  

A number of major new commissions and exhibitions open with the festival. Representing Japan at the 2005 Venice Biennale, Ishiuchi Miyako (Stills, 29 July – 8 October) will present her first solo show of photography in Scotland. Ashanti Harris interlaces ideas of community and cultural identity with her research and long personal experience of West Indian Carnivals (Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, 28 July – 28 August). Visitors can journey across the Lammermuir Hills and see the marked traces of human presence in work from Barbara Rae (Open Eye Gallery, 2 – 27 August), and see the changing Clyde-valley landscapes of Duncan Shanks, which chart the constant cycle of loss and renewal, observed in his riverside garden (The Scottish Gallery, 29 July – 27 August). Celebrating its 180th birthday in 2022, The Scottish Gallery also presents work rooted in art history by Australian ceramicist Kirsten Coelho (29 July – 27 August). The textural works of Rosa Lee, Shelagh Wakely and Barbara Levittoux-Świderska are brought together during the festival (Arusha, 29 July – 29 August). 

Tessa Lynch considers feminist readings of the city in ‘expanded print’, which promotes alternative building techniques inspired by play and the natural world (Edinburgh Printmakers, 28 July – 18 September). Influenced by the landscapes of the North American prairies, a series of abstract works by John McLean bring rhythmic expressions in paint to the festival (The Fine Art Society, 22 July – 27 August). New work by graduating students also takes place in Summer at ECA, showcasing work from the schools of Art, Design and Architecture and Landscape Architecture (Edinburgh College of Art, 19 – 26 August). Opening during the festival, we abandon the microscope with Luke Jerram’s 90ft inflatable sculpture fruit titled E.coli, which is 5 million times bigger than the actual bacteria (National Museum of Scotland, 3 – 31 August). 

In major surveys and premieres, Tracey Emin will present her second ever solo show in Scotland since 2008, featuring the unveiling of a large bronze sculpture, paintings and drawings (Jupiter Artland, 28 May – 2 October). The first Scottish solo show from London-based artist Daniel Silver highlights the artist’s shift to working in clay with colourful totems, figures and busts(Fruitmarket, 11 June – 25 September). Studio Lenca presentsa series which confronts the complex cultural history of their native El Salvador (Sierra Metro, 25 June – 28 August).The first major survey of Céline Condorelli in the UK will take place bringing the outdoors into the gallery space (Talbot Rice Gallery, 25 June – 1 October). Monumental canvases rich in colour and detail are presented in Thoughts, meals, days by Glasgow based artist Lorna Robertson (Ingleby, 25 June – 17 September).  Audiences can also become absorbed in the UK premiere of Yan Wang Preston’s work, which charts the changing life of a love-heart-shaped rhododendron bush (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Saturday 14 May – Sunday 28 August). 

Movements and moments in both art and time feature in the festival. Audiences can experience the power of Raphael’s work, reimagined in VR and contemporary tapestry (Dovecot Studios, 1 July – 24 September). Visitors to Anatomy: A Matter of Death and Life can see how anatomical art and illustration shaped knowledge of the human body (National Museum of Scotland, 2 July – 30 October). Twentieth-century marvels from a group of prominent Scottish artists are revealed in National Treasure: The Scottish Modern Arts Association (City Art Centre, 21 May – 16 October), whilst the ambitions and morality of Andrew Carnegie are questioned in animation and archival presentation by Ruth Ewan (Collective, 25 June – 18 September). The current mood of the country is closely captured by photographers working in Scotland in Counted: Scotland’s Census 2022 (Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 12 March – 25 September). 

Collectors and collectionsare considered during the festival. Audiences can wonder at historic Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace, which features work from Rembrandt and Artemisia Gentileschi (The Queen’s Gallery, 25 March – 25 September). Modern French art and the early collectors of the Impressionists are explored in A Taste for Impressionism (Royal Scottish Academy, 30 July – 30 November). Recent acquisitions by the National Galleries of Scotland in New Arrivals: From Salvador Dalí to Jenny Saville (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Modern 1, until Spring 2023). Refreshed for the festival, the exhibition includes a new acquisition by acclaimed American artist, Amie Siegel.  

In retrospectives, shows highlighting the influence of distinguished international artists are celebrated. The life and legacy of painter, jeweller, polymath and jazz musician Alan Davie are explored in a major centenary exhibition (Dovecot Studios, 24 June – 24 September).  Barbara Hepworth’s life work comes into focus in an exhibition brought to Edinburgh with The Hepworth Wakefield, Tate St Ives and National Galleries of Scotland (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Modern 2, 9 April – 2 October). Scottish artist Will Maclean’s work is brought together – his work rooted in the history, archaeology and literature of the Scottish Highlands (City Art Centre, 4 June – 2 October). The works of Scottish artist, writer and poet Maud Sulter act as inspiration for a new publication as part of a wider ecology of projects (Rhubaba, across the festival). The Modern Institute also presents work by American poet and artist John Giorno (1934 – 2019) alongside contemporary pieces from quilt collective Arrange Whatever Pieces Come Your Way and artists Julia Chiang and Marc Hundley (Dovecot Studios, 8 July – 17 September). 

Themes around ecologies and the environment are central to the 2022 partner programme. Turner Prize nominees Cooking Sections, in collaboration with Sakiya,look at the history of land struggles in Scotland and Palestine within a wider global dialogue, highlighting how alliances between humans and plants can also enhance new collective horizons. (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2 July – 18 September). Calum Craik navigates debris and holiday rental accommodation through a sculptural stage (Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, 10 June – 28 August). Camara Taylor brings further focus to Scottish waterways through new video and mixed media work, recomposed from the sighs and groans of a sinking kingdom, rooted in ideas of silt, slop and snap (Collective, 17 June – 4 September). The result of a three-year commission, Annette Krauss explores Calton Hill as a site held in the ‘common good’, through a research resource presented online and at the City Observatory Library (Collective, 1 June – 4 September).

Jane Connarty, Programme Manager at Edinburgh Art Festival, said: “As Edinburgh marks 75 years of festival culture, we are proud to collaborate with our partners across the city to present the 18th edition of Edinburgh Art Festival, and are delighted to welcome to the city our new Director, Kim McAleese. A celebration of the unique ecology of visual arts in our city, our 2022 programme brings together independent galleries, world class collections, and production spaces across the city to present the work of more than 100 artists from around the world. The 2022 Commissions Programme invites artists and audiences to explore the site and histories of the Union Canal and includes two artists projects in Wester Hailes on the west of the city – both developed from close working and co-production with local residents.” 

Amanda Catto, Head of Visual Arts, Creative Scotland said: “The Edinburgh Art Festival is a highlight of Scotland’s cultural calendar and always a joy to experience.  This year is no exception with the festival bringing together an amazing array of art and artists in a really rich and dynamic programme.

We’re especially excited to see the festival working with communities in Wester Hailes to create new work celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Union Canal.  It’s a really tremendous opportunity for people to discover more about the canal’s histories and to re-imagine its future.

We wish all the artists and partners well as they begin the final countdown to the festival and we look forward to exploring the great range of exhibitions and events taking place across the city this summer”.

Joan Parr, Service Director for Culture and Wellbeing at the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “I’m very excited about this year’s programme and look forward to the full return of artists from all over Scotland and the world showcasing their work in Edinburgh’s art galleries and unusual exhibition spaces. The Capital has a long history of promoting the value of culture and as we mark the 75th year of our August Festival’s, the EAF’s programme of 34 exhibitions will celebrate contemporary art across our ancient city.

I’m delighted the Council is yet again able to support this year’s innovative festival. We’re also proud to host two exhibitions in our City Art Centre. With National Treasure: The Scottish Modern Arts Association, visitors can discover the story of this pioneering 20th century organisation and the outstanding collection it created. And Will Maclean: Points of Departure, provides a fresh insight into one of the most outstanding artists of his generation with many pieces going on public display for the first time.”

For more information, please visit see our What’s On pages, or follow the Festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @EdArtFest #EdArtFest  


For more information on Edinburgh Art Festival, images, interview and review requests please contact Susie Gray– [email protected] or 07834 073795 

Edinburgh Art Festival  

Founded in 2004 and now in its 18th edition, Edinburgh Art Festival is the platform for the visual arts at the heart of Edinburgh’s August festivals, bringing together the capital’s leading galleries, museums and artist-run spaces in a city-wide celebration of the very best in visual art. Each year, the festival features leading international and UK artists alongside the best emerging talent, major survey exhibitions of historic figures, and a special programme of newly commissioned artworks that respond to public and historic sites in the city. Edinburgh Art Festival is a registered charity supported by Creative Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council. For more information, please visit or follow the Festival on Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook and Twitter.  

Creative Scotland  

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  

The City of Edinburgh Council is a funding partner for Edinburgh Art Festival. 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. For further information about EventScotland, its funding programmes and latest event news visit Follow EventScotland on Twitter @EventScotNews.  

EventScotland is a team within VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, 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. For more information about VisitScotland see or for consumer information on Scotland as a visitor destination see  

Scottish Government 

The Scottish Government is the devolved government for Scotland and has a range of responsibilities that include: the economy, education, health, justice, rural affairs, housing, environment, equal opportunities, consumer advocacy and advice, transport and taxation