Edinburgh art gallery which expanded into closed down music venue and nightclub reveals opening date

A long-awaited expansion of one of Edinburgh’s leading art galleries into a long-running live music venue and nightclub will be revealed during next year’s summer festivals.

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 7:59 pm
The Fruitmarket Gallery has expanded into the former Electric Circus music venue and nightclub on Market Street in Edinburgh.
The Fruitmarket Gallery has expanded into the former Electric Circus music venue and nightclub on Market Street in Edinburgh.

The Fruitmarket, which has operated on a site next to Waverley Station for 45 years, will double in size when it reopens next August after a £3.7 million redevelopment.

The move will see regular live performances of music, dance, theatre and poetry staged in a former warehouse home to the Electric Circus venue in recent years.

The venue, which had operated in various guises for more than 40 years, was closed down in the spring of 2017 after its owners struck a deal with the gallery to give up the lease of its building.

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Live dance, music, theatre and poetry events are expected to be staged by the Fruitmarket Gallery in its new space on Market Street.

The gallery has announced that Glasgow-based sculptor Karla Black, a Turner Prize in 2011, will be staging the first major exhibition in its new-look gallery spaces.

She will be creating new work inspired by the historic warehouses spaces, which were originally home to a fruit and vegetable market which opened in 1938.

The Fruitmarket had been pursing a £10 million expansion of its Market Street home for more than a decade but had to scale back its plans due to strict limits on the height of buildings in the area and problems securing funding.

Edinburgh-based architects Reiach and Hall were called in to draw up new plans last summer and a fresh blueprint for the site was approved by councillors in August.

Black’s Fruitmarket show will feature separate new commissions for the warehouse it will be expanding into.

She will be hanging painted and powdered cellophane off the beams and coating the floor with reflective Vaseline to bounce light around the new spaces, as well as creating “a carpet of coloured powder” for the and the long-running upstairs gallery.

Several other works previously created by Black will be borrowed from public and private collections to allow them to go on display in the downstairs gallery.

Fruitmarket director Fiona Bradley said: “This is an exciting year for us, as we work towards opening an inspirational new space for creative, collaborative working and our refreshed and renovated existing building.

“We can’t wait to work with Karla. There is a defiant force to her work - it is demanding and disruptive as well as beautiful and inspiring. It is because of this that we invited her to be the first artist to work in the newly -reopened Fruitmarket. We value artistic experiment and want her to really challenge the new space.”

Amanda Catto, head of visual arts at national arts agency Creative Scotland, which is supporting the project to the tune of £1.4 million, said: “This development will enhance the existing gallery space, breathe new life into the adjacent warehouse, and secure this important part of the city’s heritage as a space for artists and the public to meet into the future.”