Despite the cancellation of the festival this year, we were delighted to still be able to present Platform – the festival’s annual showcase supporting artists in the early stages of their careers to make and present new work – with a physical exhibition at City Art Centre, from 31 October to 29 November.
Selected from an open call by artist Ruth Ewan, and curator, Sophia Hao (Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design), four artists based in Scotland –Rabindranath A Bhose, Mark Bleakley, Rhona Jack and Susannah Stark – were supported to create new work presented in this group show.
Edinburgh Art Festival, along with its sibling August Festivals, made the difficult decision earlier this year to cancel their 2020 edition due to the ongoing pandemic. Despite the many challenges faced across the cultural sector, we are very pleased to continue to support artists during this difficult time by presenting the delayed 2020 edition of our Platform series, which usually forms a key element of each festival programme, showcasing new work for four artists in the early stages of their careers.
The exhibition brought together four new bodies of work that included sound installations, textile and sculptural works, print-making, film, performance, and text-based works. Across each of the artists’ individual practice, a number of themes and approaches were particularly resonant for our present times including: the aesthetics of the collective, the intense vitality of ‘being together’ in space; strategies for survival; and the importance of the sense of touch.
Hear from the participating artists and curator Abigail Webster in this short introduction to the exhibition:
Rabindranath A Bhose drew on queer modes of living and relating as expansive strategies for survival, creating a new large-scale vinyl drawing for the exhibition space. Composed of signs, and words, the drawing referenced autobiographical and mythological elements. The drawing was closely related to a text written during lockdown which will was presented both in print form and in audio form read by the artist’s lover.
Artist and choreographer Mark Bleakley developed a new work using movement, print and video to develop a playful exploration of the poetics of weight and gravity and their relation to collectivity; asking how these are used by, with or against live bodies, and emphasising the vitality of being in a space together, and how this is manifest. The process of the work drew upon film documentation from a movement workshop devised with collaborators, and a range of found footage relating to ideas of grounding, groundlessness, and inertia.
Rhona Jack developed a series of large-scale textile based sculptural works, taking the form of stitched hangings, woven rugs and elements of soft sculpture. Reconstructed and crafted from a patchwork of recycled scrap fabrics and items of clothing, the work drew attention to our relationship to textile production, consumption and waste; presenting consumerism in opposition to the personal narratives that we put upon clothes made in their millions.
Susannah Stark’s work consisted of an audio soundscape featuring field recordings and song fragments sung by the artist that draw on histories of habitation in Scotland, interwoven with several 'moving collages' made from touristic postcards and property adverts which emanated coloured light, suggesting different ways of 'seeing' and highlighting emotional frequencies within the images. In addition were a series of floor-based sculptures assembled from various natural and synthetic found objects sourced with help from the artist's mum, that were suggestive of meditating bodies.
View the Platform: 2020 booklet, including accompanying text by Adam Benmakhlouf:
Rabindranath Bhose lives and works in Glasgow. He graduated from Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University in 2016, and completed the School of the Damned alternative Fine Art Programme in 2019.
Mark Bleakley lives and works in Glasgow. He graduated from Newcastle University in 2013 with a BA in Fine Art Practice.
Rhona Jack lives and works in Dundee. She graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee, in 2017.
Susannah Stark lives and works in Glasgow. She graduated from the Royal College of Art, London, with an MA in Print in 2016, and from Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen with a BA in Printmaking in 2011.
Platform: 2020 is made possible thanks to the PLACE Programme, a partnership between Edinburgh Festivals, Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council and Creative Scotland.