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Edinburgh Festival 2022

Find creative inspiration in the wider world away from Cannes

Our pick from the recent past Edinburgh Art Festival...

Date:

09th November 2022

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Global creative festivals are curious beasts. They start out as one thing and through success, desperate reinvention, or just the patina of the years, gradually grow into something else. For example, in 1987 in Austin, Texas, the locals wanted to put a stake in the ground for their local creative and music scene. And so SXSW was born. With all respect to Texas talent, the annual spring event is now very different as a global hub for encountering the overlap in music, tech, art and business. All the better for that, most would say. But growth is not always great.

Some 30+ years before that the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity kicked off as a modest review of film ads, put on by the society of screen advertising associations.

It was a business promo that gradually spread into other advertising areas. Then exploded. Now owned by a company that states its goal as ‘specialist information, analytics and e-commerce optimisation’, Cannes has spread into whatever can sustain the ravenous creatures it needs to feed. Creativity can seem a long way from what is discussed or done in its name.

But massive growth and creative focus can be happy bedfellows. For that story, let’s go back further, to 1947 when in the blackened buildings of post- war Edinburgh the world’s biggest creative festival, by some way, began.

The Edinburgh International Festival was meant to focus on theatre but immediately begat a breakaway, the Edinburgh Fringe … and to cut a long story short this annual shindig through August can now encompass more than 3,000 different acts and events across 300+ venues. Theatre, comedy, art, books, film and photography, music, performance of indeterminate crossover … it’s all there, in a cluster of highly creative festivals that sit close together, with a collective spirit and yet also in friendly competition for audience. The world turns up but there always seems room for a few more. Unlike Cannes, you can buy into just as much as you want of it, at almost any budget level (quite a lot is free or very cheap). You can turn up, tune in, tune out and leave (for a holiday or perhaps work) and then come back for more … it is there for the month.

It is, like SXSW, and many other creative festivals of different size around the world, arguably much closer to what an advertising creative festival should be about. All kinds of creativity are drawn in, as indeed advertising needs to do. With the crossover and integration of advertising with other culture, media and technology never greater, why does the ad industry blow its budgets going to an old-school one week ad ghetto in the south of France? On this spread is some of our pick from the recent past Edinburgh Festival … and now we are looking ahead. Perhaps a dip into a rising star on the art itinerary: for example, why not visit Kochi-Muziris Biennale 22-23 in Kerala this December? It’s truly diverse and open in many ways. Advertising needs to open its travel itinerary to the real world of creativity, the one that can feed its content rather than its bank account. It has nothing to lose but its chains to Cannes.

Ishiuchi Miyako's mother's lipstick

Ishiuchi Miyako was a significant retrospective at the Edinburgh Art Festival of the pioneering Japanese photographer, which took place at Stills Centre for Photography. Now 75, Ishiuchi displayed works from three of her projects, responses to clothing found at Hiroshima, and items belonging to Frida Kahlo and Ishiuchi’s own mother. This shows one of the lipsticks her mother used.

Will Maclean, The Drowning_ 1983_ The Fine Art Society, Edinburgh.

The veteran Scottish artist Will MacLean exhibited at the Edinburgh City Art Centre during the Festival, displaying a unique blend of mixed-media crafts to deliver a mode of poetic documentary.

Jupiter Artland - Tracey Emin, I Lay Here For You, 2022. Courtesy of Jupiter Artland

A new installation in woodland at Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh, a massive bronze by the British artist Tracey Emin, which depicts a naked masturbating woman.

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Global creative festivals are curious beasts. They start out as one thing and through success, desperate reinvention, or just the patina of the years, gradually grow into something else. For example, in 1987 in Austin, Texas, the locals wanted to put a stake in the ground for their local creative and music scene. And so SXSW was born. With all respect to Texas talent, the annual spring event is now very different as a global hub for encountering the overlap in music, tech, art and business. All the better for that, most would say. But growth is not always great.

Some 30+ years before that the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity kicked off as a modest review of film ads, put on by the society of screen advertising associations.

It was a business promo that gradually spread into other advertising areas. Then exploded. Now owned by a company that states its goal as ‘specialist information, analytics and e-commerce optimisation’, Cannes has spread into whatever can sustain the ravenous creatures it needs to feed. Creativity can seem a long way from what is discussed or done in its name.

But massive growth and creative focus can be happy bedfellows. For that story, let’s go back further, to 1947 when in the blackened buildings of post- war Edinburgh the world’s biggest creative festival, by some way, began.

The Edinburgh International Festival was meant to focus on theatre but immediately begat a breakaway, the Edinburgh Fringe … and to cut a long story short this annual shindig through August can now encompass more than 3,000 different acts and events across 300+ venues. Theatre, comedy, art, books, film and photography, music, performance of indeterminate crossover … it’s all there, in a cluster of highly creative festivals that sit close together, with a collective spirit and yet also in friendly competition for audience. The world turns up but there always seems room for a few more. Unlike Cannes, you can buy into just as much as you want of it, at almost any budget level (quite a lot is free or very cheap). You can turn up, tune in, tune out and leave (for a holiday or perhaps work) and then come back for more … it is there for the month.

It is, like SXSW, and many other creative festivals of different size around the world, arguably much closer to what an advertising creative festival should be about. All kinds of creativity are drawn in, as indeed advertising needs to do. With the crossover and integration of advertising with other culture, media and technology never greater, why does the ad industry blow its budgets going to an old-school one week ad ghetto in the south of France? On this spread is some of our pick from the recent past Edinburgh Festival … and now we are looking ahead. Perhaps a dip into a rising star on the art itinerary: for example, why not visit Kochi-Muziris Biennale 22-23 in Kerala this December? It’s truly diverse and open in many ways. Advertising needs to open its travel itinerary to the real world of creativity, the one that can feed its content rather than its bank account. It has nothing to lose but its chains to Cannes.

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