Edinburgh's Hidden Door brings artists and musicians to Roxy Art House
- Neil Cooper
- 15 January 2010
A new mini festival in Edinburgh brings together grassroots musicians, film-makers and artists. Neil Cooper hopes sparks will fly.
The poster for ‘Hidden Door’ says it all. Or rather, the shaky-handed woodcut-styled image advertising Edinburgh’s new cross-artform weekender at The Roxy Art House, doesn’t. As a shadowy, long-coated figure tentatively peers through the cracks of some secret passageway, light dazzles with such force as to suggest something revelatory beyond its portals.
In spirit, this strategy recalls the similarly opaque publicity offered by two very different artistic institutions; Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre during its 1970s golden age, and Eric’s, the Liverpool cellar-bar punk club that spawned the city’s music scene and a million legends that went with it. The Citz’s penchant for audacious re-workings of obscure European classics were sold with a title, the author’s usually little-known name, the bare bones details of where and when the event was taking place and an image which bore only an abstract relationship with its inspiration.
Meanwhile, over at Eric’s, visionary owner Roger Eagle was reputed to have promoted a gig by a band called The Table not even with posters, but by simply leaving an actual table outside the club. In both instances, if you got the idea, you were welcome. And if you didn’t, well, you were never going to like what was on offer anyway.
Judging by its website, ‘Hidden Door’ is actually a lot more user-friendly than its initial missives suggest. With thirty bands, forty visual artists and an array of film-makers and poets plying their wares, the event is an ambitious attempt to rub a disparate set of artists up against each other in the hope that sparks fly. In a city with no historical infrastructure of such events beyond a few 1960s Happenings, and with venues generally focusing exclusively on one artform, and never the twain shall meet, the assorted branches of local DIY culture that ‘Hidden Door’ embraces is to be applauded.
‘It’s an attempt to get all the different strands of creative people in the one place,’ explains ‘Hidden Door’ creative director David Martin. ‘I’ve always felt Edinburgh’s artistic community was quite fragmented. There are lots of little pockets of activity, but they tend to exist in isolation from one another. The more you meet people, though, the more there’s a sense of people really wanting to go for something like this.’
‘Hidden Door’ is a grand-scale step-up from having like-minded bands play artist-run exhibition openings in a way that has previously happened at The Embassy Gallery (now housed, incidentally, in The Roxy) and independent ventures such as The Forest and The Bowery, or the bands-and-art approach at Sierra Metro gallery. ‘Hidden Door’ also acknowledges the music/art interface in a similar way to ‘The Link’ exhibition at Edinburgh Music Library. Randan Discotheque, for instance, is the musical project of artist Craig Coulthard, who recently scooped the award to create Scotland’s contribution to 2012’s Cultural Olympiad. Other familiar names include Jesus H Foxx, The Pineapple Chunks, The Leg and Broken Records.
‘The ultimate goal with ‘Hidden Door’ is to establish it on Edinburgh’s cultural calendar as a platform for people to collaborate,’ says Martin. ‘We’re describing it as a pilot event, and I’d like it to happen at least once a year. If it does well, there’ll definitely be another event in October. There’s a real hunger for it just now. The time is right.’
The Roxy Art House, Edinburgh, Sat 30–Sun 31 Jan