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Review: Young Edinburgh Artists

The dark and long days of January have been brightened considerably by the brilliant white wall of the White Space Gallery and the plethora of artwork that was curated by the ‘Young Edinburgh Artists’, or YEA! for short, a collective of artists and curators founded by Issy Wanstall, Hugh Collins and Phoebe Potter. This was the newly set up group’s first event and the private viewing was the first demonstration of the wide array of talents and interests within the Edinburgh student community. 

It was a great success, with the exhibition showcasing the skills and achievements of student artists, all of which were received very well. A variety of different media were used including three short films. Albert Courage and Cece Plumptree’s short film An Arcadian Dream was particularly moving and featured intimate black and white footage of rolling and dramatic landscapes with the artists moving and existing within them. The film felt like an ode to the countryside it was filmed in, and the personal relationship between the artists was showcased through vignettes which created the illusion that the viewer was experiencing the scenes before them through the eyes of the artists. 

Ella Williamson’s emotive short film titled Rise of the Planet of the Apes explored themes of everyday casual racism online and its place in society against a backdrop of slavery and institutional racism. The film depicted a series of flashing images that created an intense and disturbing viewing, set against a foundational image of a group of apes, taken from the famous 1968 film, “Planet of the Apes.” 

There was a mixture of photography and painted mediums which posed a challenge for Issy, Hugh and Phoebe to fill the space cohesively. However, the White Space Gallery was delightful to move through with something eye-catching everywhere you looked, while the attention to detail made the exhibition hard to leave. The YEA! accepted and displayed my own seascape produced using oil paint. Working with them was exciting and energising,  attending the private view allowed me to interact closely with other artists and creatives as well as garner inspiration from my peers in Edinburgh. 

I visited the gallery again on Sunday and saw the widespread public interest in the student-led exhibition which had many visitors. Attracting art lovers from all over Edinburgh the exhibition offered an insight into what the young creatives of the city were exploring. As much of the creative community at the university remains unrepresented, it is when art interacts with important issues such as identity that are properly explored. I think it is this idea that makes the exhibition so special.

YEA! allowed the formation of an artistic collective which I think, is a brilliant way to build up a sense of community that is not just based around an art degree, but that explores what young artists really want to document and create. I think YEA! has started an interesting conversation in Edinburgh, as the sheer range of artists- all students from varying backgrounds and different races- collectively explored these factors through different media from collage to installations, and this is a conversation which I look forward to being a part of.

Image Via: Josie Sawyer