This article has been written with the support of Edinburgh Art Festival.
Emerging Scottish artists get their chance to shine at this year's Platform exhibition
- Emma Simmonds
- 22 October 2020
'It's been an incredible opportunity to learn how to hatch, develop and create an ambitious new work'
In a desperately difficult year for creatives, Platform, the Edinburgh Art Festival's annual exhibition showcasing emerging artists feels more essential than ever. Running from 31 October to 29 November at Edinburgh's City Art Centre, it's an exciting opportunity for early stage artists to benefit from expertise and exposure, and for the public to engage with and support their work.
The Scotland-based artists selected this year are: Rabindranath A Bhose, Mark Bleakley, Rhona Jack and Susannah Stark. They were chosen from an open call by established artist Ruth Ewan and curator Sophia Hao, with the exhibition bringing together their specially created work, including sound installations, textile and sculpture, print-making, film, performance, and text-based works.
Speaking about the quartet in question and purpose of the project, Ewan is enthusiastic: 'Each artist in the exhibition has a clear and unique voice and it is vital we continue to support, nurture and value artists at this early stage in their careers, especially at this time.'
The Edinburgh-born, Dundee-based Rhona Jack describes herself as a 'multi-disciplinary artist, whose artistic practice is formed by a combination of sculpture, printmaking and fibre art.' For Platform, she's created an installation from second-hand clothes, scrap textiles, dead stock yarns and reclaimed hoops; stitched together in a massive patchwork, clothes hang from the ceiling, still holding a suggestion of the people who wore them. The aim is to 'present consumerism in opposition to the personal narratives that we put upon clothes made in their millions.' She describes the opportunity Platform offers as 'invaluable', something that has 'given direction to my work during lockdown, keeping me motivated when the world seems bleak.'
Specialising in art that draws on queer modes of living and relating as expansive strategies for survival, Rabindranath A Bhose grew up in London and lives and works between Glasgow and Rotterdam. Like most, he's found this year hard, saying, 'I think for those of us who were already feeling isolated and socially precarious, the further severing of possibilities for nurturing connection was a huge blow.' Nevertheless, he's risen to the challenge for this year's show, his 'first big public exhibition', producing a large vinyl wall, and floor piece in the shape of an elephant's trunk that will 'snake round the exhibition space', alongside some writing made during lockdown, with an audio recording of this read by his lover.
The quartet is completed by Glasgow-based artists Susanna Stark and Mark Bleakley. Stark is an artist and musician, whose work is dedicated to 'exploring voice, sound and song as creative mediums.' For Platform, she's presenting an audio soundscape that's a 'collaged composition of melodic sounds, field recordings and fragments of interviews, based on histories of habitation in Scotland, most of which I recorded while on a recent trip to Helmsdale and Orkney, and there are also references to personal experiences of shared living.' She's also produced a video work of moving collages projected in the space which emanate coloured light, suggesting different ways of 'seeing' their content, and floor-based sculptures that evoke meditating bodies.
Artist and choreographer Bleakley presents work in both dance and visual arts contexts. He's described how, 'in one sense the pandemic has given some validation to ideas I was looking at – the importance of holding space with others, the power of sociality and acting together – and I hoped to find drive from this.' Although he's found it tough producing work normally in these abnormal times, the results have been fruitful; in this exhibition he's looking at 'ideas of grounding, groundlessness and inertia, how these are experienced in the body through dancing and action (printmaking) and conceptually through writing.' He's developed two films, including a playful take on TV game show Jeopardy!, and a lino-print installation.
The Edinburgh Art Festival are extremely proud to be able to focus on these talented early stage artists and to be presenting a physical show in such a challenging context – as Stark points out, 'it is very difficult for the arts to exist only online.' With work that promises to speak powerfully to our current predicament, or provide the opportunity to be transported, Platform: 2020 is set to be a feast of cutting-edge creativity, acting as a beacon of hope for a sector that urgently needs our support, and demonstrating that the future for the arts can still be bright.
Platform: 2020 will run at City Art Gallery from Sat 31 Oct–Sun 29 Nov. Tickets are free but pre-booking is essential. To reserve your tickets please visit www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk and for more information head to www.edinburghartfestival.com.