4 August – 4 September

Our eighth festival edition included major exhibitions in 42 museums, galleries and artist-run spaces throughout Edinburgh’s historic city centre and beyond. The festival included 2 newly commissioned public artworks; a permanent addition to Edinburgh’s artistic landscape in the form of Martin Creed’s Work 1059, and a temporary structure, designed by Karen Forbes, exploring a contemporary expression of the city’s long fascination with optics and optical devices for viewing.

“Serious, provocative viewing…an excellent festival” 
The Financial Times

View the Festival Guide:

View the Festival Map:

Commissions Programme

Over the previous three years, Edinburgh Art Festival, with the generous support of the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festival’s Expo Fund, began to facilitate the commissioning of new work specifically for the festival. In 2011 we announced two major new commissions for the programme. 

Martin Creed’s Work No. 1059, commissioned by the Fruitmarket Gallery for the Scotsman Steps, formed part of a major restoration of this important pedestrian artery connecting Edinburgh’s Old and New Town. Creed’s intervention – cladding the steps in marble from around the world – was a permanent and majestic addition to the city which the poet Hugh MacDiarmid called ‘a mad god’s dream’.

2011 also saw the launch of the first artist designed festival pavilion for St. Andrew Square Gardens. Designed by Karen Forbes, it hosted a programme of events throughout the festival, placing visual art at the very heart of Edinburgh, and providing a central hub for the festival programme.

Partner Exhibitions

Five Centuries of Scottish Portraiture at Bourne Fine Art

David Mach: Precious Light King James Bible 1611-2011 at City Art Centre

Chris Drury: Land, Water and Language and Heirlooms at Dovecot Studios

Anish Kapoor: Flashback, Norman McBeath & Robert Crawford: Body Bags / SimonidesEdinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Degree ShowSomewhere in Time: Postliminal and Atsuo Hukuda: Colour and/or Monochrome at Edinburgh College of Art

Lineage: Prints by Michael Craig-Martin, Ian Davenport and Julian Opieat Edinburgh Printmakers

Ingrid Calame at The Fruitmarket Gallery

Mystics or Rationalists? at Ingleby Gallery

Robert Rauschenberg: Botanical Vaudeville and Thomas Houseago: The Beat of the Show at Inverleith House

Charles Jencks: Metaphysical Landscapes at Jupiter Artland

Elizabeth Blackadder and The Queen: Art and Image at Scottish National Gallery

Tony Cragg: Sculptures and Drawings and Hiroshi Sugimoto at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

A Passion for Glass at National Museum of Scotland

Left To My Own Devices at New Media Scotland

John Byrne RSA and European Masterprints 1890-1980 at Open Eye Gallery

The Northern Renaissance: Dürer to Holbein at The Queen’s Gallery

Carmen Sylva at Sierra Metro

Anton Henning and Ragamala at Talbot Rice Gallery

Additional Programme

The Agent Ria, Spelling the Myth

Atticsalt,Boris Bittker: Passing Through Zero

Chris Moore: Body of Evidence

The indirect exchange of uncertain value and Hans Schabus: Remains of the Day at Collective

Hayashi Takeshi: Haku-u at Corn Exchange Gallery

Costume and Custom in Japanese art at Edinburgh City Libraries


Katri Walker: North West at Peacock Visual Art

In Japan: Highlights of Academicians’ projects in contemporary Japan at The Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

Schop, A Scottish Land: an exhibition by Nick Sargent

My Never-Ending Friend: The Art of Alexander Voitsekhovsky at Scotland-Russia Institute

Elizabeth Blackadder: New Paintings, Jacqueline Mina: Touching Gold and Colin Reid: Glass at The Scottish Gallery

Stephen Sutcliffe: Runaway, Success at Stills

Tamsyn Challenger: 400 Women


In August 2011, the Edinburgh Art Festival commissioned Trigger to make Detours, a series of live interventions in visual art spaces across the city. Below are eight films made by Daniel Warren in response to the events.

Aidan Moffat at Sierra Metro

Aidan Moffat at Inverleith House

Josie Long at Inspace

Josie Long at Fruitmarket/ The Scotsman Steps

Ross Sutherland at the Open Eye Gallery

Ross Sutherland at City Art Centre

Nigel Barrett & Louise Mari of Shunt at Bourne Fine Art

Nigel Barrett & Louise Mari of Shunt at Jupiter Artland