Early in 2010 go reborn strategised upon our possible incarnations in the pop-up environment. Fundamentally the growth in our artist and audience participation could, and perhaps should, be engaged through alternative means. Metaphorically the spaces we’ve inhabited work similarly to a magazine: the walls are viewed in a short moment/movement – much as a page is turned and the content passed through.
Compiling a publication would utilise similar methods we had honed previously during our effective collaboration and curation in the temporary, arts spaces.
This go reborn website has become our publication – launched by way of exhibit at #GR4
A suitable line of editorial to explore therefore is why go reborn find the need to open new and exciting spaces in a city that seems to tick many artistically, confident boxes. So here, in the series 12 Month Town, we speak to characters/players/raconteurs who have insight through their work/lives into the city’s established and emerging creative output. Also integral to the series is visually examining (ok.. parodying!) Edinburgh’s historic identity and its importance to balancing tourist influx with residential progress. Edinburgh’s picture perfect, Disney-esque form is undeniably a major attraction. It holds wonderful stories and hides many dark secrets but what about the artists, architects, writers and enthusiasts just breaking out.. can they escape the traditions of Eden’s burgh?
In Rupert’s case we had played with a few locations on Canongate that embrace the city’s written and performance pedigree but it was when photographer Christina Kernohan encountered the hidden-doored, smokey interior of the Roxy Art House that the final shot was born. The heavily shaded, tonal contrasts reek the painting influence of the Dutch Golden Age and can be paralleled – for the purpose of this brief – to the famous judiciary portraits adorning the near-by Signet Library’s staircase.
photography by Christina Kernohan
GR) Please outline your work title and daily work routine?
RT) I am Artistic Director at the Roxy Art House in Edinburgh. My daily routine involves a mix of programming events and leadership of the organisation: both in its public-facing capacities and internal staff management.
How do you rank Edinburgh as a centre for creative splendour on the global city circuit?
In many ways, Edinburgh is fantastic and uniquely so: it has the biggest arts festival in the world, a spectacular setting and architecture, and a history of creative and analytical thought to inspire anyone. It’s also a friendly city, where practitioners support one another and the art scene has less of a cliquey feel than in some cities. On the other hand, it has limitations. The public can be quite slow to believe in the merits of new things (that mutual support between practitioners is needed), while the population is quite small, so there is less of a critical mass to support more alternative arts anyway. Also, the price of property is high so it is hard to come across viable creative spaces in an accessible location.
And again, but take the festival month of August and the Hogmanay showcase out of the equation. Are we a ʻ12 month townʼ?
One of the explicit goals I’ve set for the Roxy is to nurture a more year-round quality to the city’s arts scene, particularly in the presentation of new and radical work, so I’m inclined to be biased on this one. I think Edinburgh has great potential to be a ’12 month town’. Other benefits I didn’t mention earlier, that relate to this, are the quality and size of the art college, and the fact that Edinburgh is a capital city: while it may not be quite so much on the international circuit as London or New York, it is much advantaged over most cities of its size, anywhere in the world. So, while I think there is work to be done on Edinburgh’s year-round harvest, we’re on fertile ground!
With the near collapse of some of the worldʼs biggest financial institutions based in Edinburgh, could this signal the end of the ʻcorporateʼ festival and possibly encourage a rawer city ethos for Edinburghʼs creatives to develop? Or does it already exist?
I have to say I think Edinburgh does benefit from the financial institutions that are based here, and their support of the festival is to be encouraged. Corporate sponsorship allows work produced by international professional companies to come to the city, and it’s great for up-and-coming or radical artists to be able to measure their work against this. The comparisons can be flattering: there’s lots of precise, intensely wrought shows that operate on a relatively small scale as part of the Fringe, that are certainly as good as anything on the International Festival programme. That’s healthy; we should consider ourselves lucky to have the options of both ‘tiers’. I recently wrote an article arguing that the International Festival and Fringe should join as one, to become the simply named ‘Edinburgh Festival’. To me, that could serve as a healthy jolt to all concerned. By putting everything on the same platform, you don’t have to be suggesting they should be judged by the same criteria; rather, you’re unifying the vision of a city that, for over a month of the year, has the best artistic environment anywhere.