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Plans for reopening and inaugural programme announced including first survey of Karla Black’s work.

Fruitmarket Gallery announces plans for reopening and inaugural programme including first survey of Karla Black’s work. 

  • Gallery expansion due for expected completion in late summer 2020.
  • Scottish artist Karla Black presents new work alongside existing sculptures selected to represent the kinds of work Black has been making since 2000.
  • Fruitmarket Gallery to host dance, poetry and a range of performance to become Scotland’s newest contemporary arts venue.

The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, UK, today announce plans for 2020 when the gallery will reopen with their existing galleries refreshed and expanded into a large adjacent structure in a £3.75m capital development. A cross cultural programme will inaugurate the newly expanded spaces including a major exhibition by one of Scotland’s most renowned sculptors, Karla Black.

Bringing both spaces into active cultural use, this second double-height building, also a former fruit and vegetable warehouse, will provide an expansive, inspirational space where artists can make new work in and for the Fruitmarket Gallery, creating a regular programme of Fruitmarket Gallery commissions curated in-house. The new space will realise the gallery’s ambitions to deliver a year round multi-art form programme from a venue at the heart of the capital. It is expected that the gallery will reopen in August 2020. 

The new Fruitmarket Gallery will open with a major exhibition of work by Glasgow-based artist and Turner prize nominated Karla Black across both the exhibition galleries and the new warehouse space. The Fruitmarket curated Black’s solo presentation for Scotland in Venice at the 54th International Biennale in 2011 but has yet to work with her in Scotland. 

The renovation and expansion will offer the artist inspirational, materially resonant spaces in which to make and site her work. The exhibition will include two major new commissions for the warehouse and the upper exhibition gallery, with existing work showing the range of Black’s practice borrowed from public and private collections and gathered on the ground floor. In the new installations, Black will bring her understanding of how people relate to the materials she uses to bear on how people relate to space. She will work horizontally in the Fruitmarket’s light and airy upper gallery, spreading a carpet of coloured powder across the floor. In contrast, she will play with the height of the new warehouse space, hanging painted and powdered cellophane off the beams and coating the floor with reflective Vaseline to bounce light around the space. These works will be contextualised within Black’s practice by the existing works, a group of standing and hanging volumes and planes in each of the artist’s signature supports, worked on in her inimitable materials palette. 

The new Fruitmarket Gallery will also offer new opportunities for partnership working with other cultural organisations locally, nationally and internationally. The space will also lend itself to theatrical and musical performances, spoken word and dance events as much as it will to the presentation of visual art. The redevelopment will ensure that the Fruitmarket can continue to operate at the forefront of contemporary culture for decades to come. The architects who will develop the site are Edinburgh based Reich and Hall. 

Fiona Bradley, Fruitmarket Gallery Director, 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, allowing us to operate at the forefront of contemporary culture for decades to come. We can’t wait to work with Karla Black. 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 – valuing artistic experiment we want her to challenge the space, to smear our new floors with Vaseline, gels and pastes and infiltrate our new systems with powder and pigment. We look forward to sharing her material insights with our audience. Alongside this we are using poem, drawing, dance, film and performance to reflect on the spaces of the Fruitmarket from the beginning of the development and through the refurbishment, marking the transition into the new and renewed spaces.”

Since opening in 1974 the gallery has shown a wide range of artists, championing Scottish and international artists from David Hockney, Jean Michele Basquiat, John Cage, Senga Negudi, Mark Wallinger, Jacqueline Donachie, Louise Bourgeois, Callum Innes, Gabriel Orozco, Marina Abramovic, Yoko Ono and Jeff Koons. 

Two cross artform projects have evolved in this year of change, with The Fruitmarket Gallery commissioning creative responses in both writing and dance. For Beginning a line beginning a building artist/poet Rhona Warwick Paterson and dancer/choreographer Eve Mutso have collaborated to make a live archive of transition, using poem, drawing, dance, film and performance to respond to the fabric of The Fruitmarket Gallery as it enters into a new phase and a new set of walls.  

For Writers’ Shift, the Fruitmarket Gallery has invited poets Janette Ayachi, Callie Gardner, Jane Goldman, Iain Morrison and Tom Pow, all of whom have a history of engagement with the gallery, will work together and with Fruitmarket staff on a guided process of writing to record the year of change, reflecting on past achievements and extrapolating directions that the organisation may take in its renewed spaces.  

As the Open Out capital development project continues Fruitmarket Gallery have revived Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s Night Walk for Edinburgh, one of the biggest hits of the Edinburgh International Festival 2019. This unique experience takes you for a walk through Edinburgh’s Old Town, with an artist’s voice in your ears and magical scenes on a screen in your hand. A free event, Night Walk for Edinburgh runs from 16 November to 31 Jan 2020. Book now