Kenny fills room with a year of News bill posters

Kenny Watson's work offers an alternative portrait of the city. Picture: Julie Bull
Kenny Watson's work offers an alternative portrait of the city. Picture: Julie Bull
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A year in the Capital as told through the pages of the Evening News is to be the subject of a major art installation.

The Days by Kenny Watson will feature in the tenth annual Edinburgh Art Festival programme, which includes dozens of the best UK and international exhibitions across 30 museums and galleries.

Organisers have promised “the most ambitious programme of new commissions to date”.

Mr Watson, 40, who lives in Corstorphine, will clad a rectangular room at 169 Rose Street from floor to ceiling with bill posters used to advertise the Evening News.

Amassed from newspaper vendors around the city over 365 days and presented as a dense layering of the exhibition space, the resulting work has been described as an “unsettling” portrait of the city over one year.

Mr Watson, a former student of the Edinburgh College of Art, first unveiled the installation in Chicago in 2008 having “pinched” bill posters from newsagents when he lived in Stockbridge.

He said: “The Days is a really powerful piece and it fitted right in with the art festival’s brief.

“When I came to making it I had long admired the bill posters and their sensational headlines. When you’re confronted with 365 different headlines it’s really disorientating.

“It doesn’t matter how strong the story is – someone might have died – but it’s instantly moved on. I suppose it’s a bit of a critique of the media when you see them en masse.”

Another installation by Mr Watson, called Fascia, will be installed directly on the hoarding of the space behind the Roxburghe Crowne Plaza hotel – a series of statements repeated and overlaid on top of each other until the text becomes obscured and purely rhythmic lines and colour.

Other programme highlights include new work by artists Christine Borland and Brody Condon within the burnt-out watchtower in New Calton Burial Ground.

Supported by Edinburgh World Heritage, Daughters of Decayed Tradesman will place a spotlight on the neglected building, which was damaged by fire in 2007. Part of the ambition of the project is to initiate work that will improve the stability of the structure, originally built to guard against grave robbers.

At the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the first major museum retrospective of photographic portraits by Man Ray will open, charting the influential artist’s career in the United States and Paris between 1916 and 1968.

Original prints from the Conde Nast archives will also be on show, featuring the work of more than 80 of the biggest names in fashion photography, including Helmut Newton, David Bailey and Mario Testino, at the outset of their prolific careers.

Councillor Steve Cardownie, the city’s festivals and events champion, said: “The EAF is an integral part of the festivals on offer in Edinburgh. It attracts so many tourists each year and is one of the reasons people are proud to come from this city from around the world..”