“Edinburgh was once an art desert at festival time. Yes, there were alternative comedians hiding under every manhole cover, but if you were a lover of the visual arts there was little reason to go. Until 2004, when the Edinburgh Art Festival was founded, and everything got better.” Waldemar Januszczak, The Sunday Times
In 2004 Edinburgh Art Festival was created to ensure that the visual arts had a prominent place alongside the other summer festivals.
Produced as an insert in the Scotland on Sunday, the Edinburgh Art Festival Guide promoted 23 art spaces, galleries and museums across the city as well as articles introducing the festival, its ethos and features exploring the exhibitions making up its inaugural year.
"This is an exciting new opportunity for Scotland and I am delighted at the level of interest shown in the Edinburgh Art Festival, both from the partners already involved and by the wider arts community. It's a really positive start from which to build our ambitions. This first year will allow all of us involved to get a real sense of the possibilities and help us shape a Festival which demonstrates the international quality of Scotland's talent." Graham Berry, Scottish Arts Council
Our second festival edition brought together exhibitions and events at 34 venues across Edinburgh, from the National Galleries of Scotland to artist-led spaces such as The Embassy. Alongside this programme were off-site and special projects including Cai Guo-Qiang: Black Rainbow, Explosion Project for Edinburgh, where the artist created an black rainbow explosion over Edinburgh Castle to launch the festival, commissioned by the Fruitmarket Gallery.
Our third festival edition ran from 27 July - 3 September 2006 and included exhibitions in 29 museums, galleries and artist run spaces throughout the city. The festival highlighted the quality and diversity of work being exhibited in Edinburgh, from works of the great masters such as Canaletto and Van Gogh to contemporary shows, artist talks and workshops.
Our fourth festival edition ran from 26 July - 2 September 2007 and included over 30 exhibitions in museums, galleries and artist-run spaces throughout Edinburgh. The festival had a wide range of art on show including the Dean Gallery's Picasso on Paper and the National Museum of Scotland's Picasso Fired with Passion, Edinburgh Printmakers' exhibition of work by William Kentridge and The Fruitmarket Gallery's Alex Hartley show. There was also an extensive series of special events based at our Information Station at Stills and a programme of artist talks and workshops across our partner galleries
Our sixth festival edition ran from 5 August – 4 September 2009 and included major exhibitions in 50 venues, both permanent and temporary, including 11 that were new to the Festival. From the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art to Granton Lighthouse and New Media Scotland’s Inspace combined to present the best, the new, the emerging and the intriguing.
Alongside work by 2009 Turner Prize nominee Lucy Skaer (doggerfisher) was new work by a previous nominee, Callum Innes (Ingleby Gallery). Jupiter Artland launched their new permanent collection of international sculpture including Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Cornelia Parker provides a new experience on the itinerary while Total Kunst and the Tent Gallery at Edinburgh College of Art offered artists from Europe and well beyond that are less familiar.