Skip to main content

Inverleith House Mass Visit – 19/2/2017

Good afternoon everyone, I just wanted to say a few words about today's mass visit to Inverleith House.

My name is Neil Cooper, and I'm a journalist who's been writing about the ongoing closure of Inverleith House as a contemporary art gallery since it was closed last October.

First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for coming out today on a lovely February afternoon.

You've not only helped increase the footfall of the Garden, but more importantly you've shown how much the people of Edinburgh have been saddened by the closure of the gallery.

The last time there was a mass visit was on the final day of the 30th anniversary exhibition, I Still Believe in Miracles, and up until that point, everybody here was able to come down to Inverleith House on a Sunday afternoon and see some of the greatest contemporary art in the world.

Sadly we can't do that anymore, because the managers of the Garden say that Inverleith House can't wash its face financially as a gallery, as if the House and everything that was shown in it was part of a business.

With that in mind, I think the managers of the Garden may need pointed out to them that Inverleith House isn't a business.

Inverleith House is public property, and for the managers of the Garden to close Inverleith House without notice or public consultation, and to completely ignore the recommendations of a report which has yet to be made public outside of the press is – to be kind – seriously misguided.

A lot has happened since the gallery was closed on October 23rd.

There's been a petition signed by more than 10,000 people calling for the decision to be reversed.

There's been an early day motion at Westminster signed by 16 MPS.

And there has been the setting up of a Working Group to discuss the House's future, which met for the first time on Tuesday.

During that time, the managers of the Garden have continually refused to answer questions which have been put to them.

They also appear to be back-tracking, with the announcement of a forthcoming summer exhibition of some kind which suggests that Inverleith House is able to wash its face.

This is potentially a good thing, but whatever the summer exhibition is made up of, it cannot be a one-off show, and a long-term plan for sustained exhibitions of the best contemporary art in the world needs to be put in place.

The purpose of today is to highlight that, and to highlight the sense of disappointment many people feel about having one of the city's greatest artistic assets taken away from them.

And this needs to continue.

On Thursday it will be four months since the House was closed.

I want to encourage people to continue to campaign against the closure.

Write to the politicians who oversee the Garden.

Publicise the petition.

Write to the Garden's managers and board of trustees.

And above all, as long as Inverleith House remains closed as a contemporary art gallery, continue to come down here every weekend, take pictures of yourselves with I Still Believe signs, and share them as much as you can.

On the face of it, what's happened to Inverleith House is a small local affair.

But what looks like a lack of engagement and a lack of understanding of what went on in the House borders on contempt, and is indicative of a fear of art and a fear of ideas that is permeating our culture throughout the world right now.

For many of us, Inverleith House is literally on our doorstep.

Let's make sure that those doors are unlocked once more so we're all able to enjoy the artistic riches it has housed for half a century, and can enjoy them for many years to come.

Thank you for coming down.

Keep believing.

Have a great day.
 
An address given as an introduction to the second mass visit to Inverleith House in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh on February 19th 2017 following the closure of Inverleith House as a contemporary art gallery on October 23rd 2016 without notice or public consultation. Inverleith House has remained closed since that day.
 
ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …