Abbeyhill opens doors to biggest ever Colony of Artists festival

Ceramics, photography, mask-making, flower arranging, knitting, weaving, and woodwork are just a few of the pieces of art you might see at the Colony of Artists exhibition in Abbeyhill this weekend.

Friday, 20th September 2019, 6:36 pm
Over 60 artists will take part in the festival.
Over 60 artists will take part in the festival.

The exhibition, now in its 14th year, will see 66 artists showcase their work at 40 different venues, most of which are the artists’ own homes.

There will also be 16 events including a poetry reading, film screening, tarot card reading and charity tea and cake sale.

A live music stage at Holland House, at the end of Rossie Place, will host live musical sessions from 12-6pm each day.

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Saturday’s session will feature a lineup of local artists, curated by Betty Pottinger, and Sunday will be organised by local pub The Safari Lounge.

The lineup will be released each day.

Other highlights will include a dedicated Colony of Artists festival ale, brewed by Campervan Brewery, based in Edinburgh.

“It’s really quite something,” said Colony of Artists organiser Kat Chisholm.

“There’s a huge variety of things going on, it’s very diverse.”

She added: “Everything is so positive, there’s a really nice atmosphere.”

Ms Chisholm believes people have begun to move to the colonies because of the reputation of this strong community.

The event receives no local arts funding, but supports itself through charging a small fee for inclusion in the brochure.

There have also been a number of fundraising events run by local businesses.

One of these raised money for two murals to be painted in the area, one on London Road and one on Rossie Place.

The murals, one of the Colony of Artists logo and another of a flower, were painted over walls which had been covered by graffiti.

The event first started in 2005 with just nine artists, and was mostly a ‘family and friends’ affair.

But in 2015 it ‘exploded’, says Ms Chisholm, and the event is now bigger than ever before.

It was local resident artist Gill Smith who first initiated the exhibition, after being inspired by taking part in the Pittenweem Arts Festival.

Ms Smith then organised the first few years of the Colony of Artists with her partner Bob Giulianotti.

The role was then taken by Ms Chisholm and William Mazur.

The Abbeyhill colonies, near the top of Easter Road, were built in 1861 by railway workers who had been locked out of their building site after a working hours dispute.

During the three month dispute local tradesmen built more than 2,000 homes in the city.