Local artists open up homes and gardens for Art Walk Porty

Seaside art festival shows off the creativity of Portobello’s community

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Art Walk Porty sees local artists open up homes and gardens

Image courtesy of Rosy Naylor

Thirty-one artists and collectives have opened up their homes and studios, created public artworks or hung exhibitions in local shops and cafes for Art Walk Porty – a local festival celebrating Portobello’s flourishing creative scene. The majority of artists exhibiting in the event live and work in Portobello and make art inspired by the local environment.

The stern towers of Cockenzie power station that punctuate the horizon line from the beach appear in the impressionistic paintings of Judith Nixon and Teresa Gordon, while Jon Davey’s nuanced photographic series capture images of the sea, taken from the same spot on Bath Street over 100 days. Other artists encountered on the walk exhibit their work directly on the beach – Lauren Fox’s ‘Tidal Octopus’ wraps itself around the end of the Bath Street groyne, disappearing into the sea at high tide. Emma Macleod’s subtle ceramic vessels in ‘Splurging’ pour colourful painted ceramic across the muted grey walls of the Promenade, playfully mimicking the flow of water from Figgate burn spilling out on to the beach below.

‘Artists are drawn to Portobello because of its natural environment, light and space away from the city,’ explains local artist and Art Walk Porty organizer, Rosy Naylor. ‘The unique space there is here seems to be a draw for many artists. I wanted to curate a project that really enabled the people who live here to engage with their surroundings through art.’

Areas of the coastal suburb that could easily be passed by in favour of the beach also become destinations on the walk – installations such as ‘Love Letters’ by Juliana Capes inside St Mark’s church and Mark Timmins' photographic installation ‘Osaka Reflections’ in Porty Light Box (a former telephone box appropriated into an community-run art venue) encourage people to explore beyond the ever-popular Promenade and see what else Portobello has to offer. Artists that have opened up their homes or gardens, such as Karl Stern, Paul McPhail and Jenny Pope, also allow for a glimpse inside otherwise private spaces.

‘This has been a bit of a pilot to see what interest there is for such an event from artists, shops and local people. It has really grown and evolved over the last few months since it was set up,’ says Naylor. ‘It will be interesting to see how it develops in future years…There definitely seems to be an appetite for this kind of project here and so would love for it to continue.’

Art Walk Porty takes place across Portobello, Edinburgh, Sat 5–Sun 6 Sep.

Art Walk Porty

Art project celebrating the public space and artistic activity of Portobello, featuring open artist studios, site-specific beach art, pop-up makers markets and more. Artists include Jacqui Higgs, Juliana Capes, Emma Macleod, Chris Dooks, Deirdre Macleod, Lindsey Lavender, Lauren Fox, Here+Now, and more.

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