Education events at The Fruitmarket Gallery

Opt in for Art Exhibition
19 April –
6 May 2007

Opt in for Art was developed by The Fruitmarket Gallery as a two-year funded programme of educational activities, targeting excluded children and young people aged 7–18 years old. The programme was mainly funded by The Scottish Arts Council and The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and ran from March 2005 until May 2007. Its principal aims were firstly to encourage and support more children and young people to engage with contemporary art through The Fruitmarket Gallery’s exhibition programme; and secondly to use the educational potential of the exhibitions as a resource to stimulate learning.

In the first two years of Opt in for Art, the Gallery delivered 152 events for children and young people, working with 37 schools and 12 youth groups.

A total of 2,283 children and young people contributed to the Opt in for Art programme in its first two years. Their participation resulted in a wide range of artwork, presented in an exhibition at The Fruitmarket Gallery from 19 April to 6 May 2007. The Exhibition attracted an audience of 7,704. A publication was produced which acts as a catalogue to the exhibition and includes postcards featuring images of work created during the programme, an essay by Opt in for Art Coordinator Johnny Gailey and statistics.

Opt in for Art came to the end of its SAC Lottery Funding in May 2007. Opt in for Art is now integrated into the Gallery education programme, ensuring sustainability and the ongoing delivery of high quality visual art experiences for children and young people.

Work with Primary Schools, Roman Signer Exhibition
January 2008

The Fruitmarket Gallery organised a series of free art workshops for Primary Schools to coincide with the Roman Signer exhibition over a fortnight in January 2008. 10 local schools visited and undertook a two and a half hour artist led workshop in the gallery space responding to the exhibition.

The pupils approached Roman Signer’s films and sculptural experiments through the scientific investigation of energy creation and transfer, allowing them the opportunities to develop their understanding of actions and reactions in terms of art and science.

The pupils then worked with visual artist Dave Sherry (sculpture) and Jenna Watt (performance) on creative activities which made links across the curriculum, contributed towards the four underlying aims of the new Curriculum for Excellence and expand the pupils’ understanding of creative energy!

In total 222 school pupils from 10 P5 – P7 classes attended over the fortnight. Places were allocated to the schools with the highest allocation of free school meals, with a third of the schools coming from the 10% most in need in Edinburgh.

The pupils got a better understanding of art in its different forms. There is a big focus on science in primary schools at the moment so this was a fantastic project”.

Primary school teacher

In addition pupils from Royal Mile Primary School worked with artist Dave Sherry over a further two months back in school, making artworks, and a short film entitled ‘Royal Mile Airshow’.

Work with Secondary Schools, East Lothian Council Portfolio Group
November 2007


Secondary art pupils from across East Lothian took part in regular portfolio preparation class, organised by the local authority’s Cultural Co-ordinator as an aid to preparing their applications to art college. As part of the course The Fruitmarket Gallery collaborated with the Cultural Co-ordinator to devise a programme of experimental drawing activity over a fortnight.

Artist Alice Betts led an in-house workshop with 14 young people which aimed to broaden their understanding of drawing and its uses. The young people investigated Roman Signer’s films and sculptural experiments through drawing diagrammatically. In doing so they were tasked to concentrate less on form but more on process: how and why things moved.

The following week, Alice led activity which further progressed and challenged the young people’s ideas on what drawing might be, encouraging them to experiment and accept failure as necessary part of the creative process, which drives them towards the unexpected.

“I hoped that the young people would use the experience to look at what contemporary art is, and try and understand where the artist is coming from. It was great to work with the artist as well as she made them approach drawing in a very different & challenging way.”

Cultural Coordinator

Workshops with Young People, Growing Ideas Project
Spring 2007

The Gallery runs regular two-day taster workshops for teenagers, giving them opportunities to work with artists learning new techniques and processes. The Gallery organised a trip to Newcastle to see an international street art exhibition in January 2007, as a way to bring previous participants together with new recruits for a three-month ‘studio’ project.

13 young people made the trip and over the following three months the young people had the opportunity to work with two artists developing their own work, in regular Friday afternoon sessions. The longer timespan gave the young people more freedom to self-direct their activity, collaborate, take risks, and let ideas develop over months. Initial ideas, such as the female J-League pro footballer Alex Brockie who featured in a comic strip workshop, grew as the young artists developed their confidence.

The resulting artworks were included in the Opt in for Art exhibition in April 2007, and some of the young people can be heard talking about their work in the Opt in for Art podcast.

Seminar Programme

Dysfunctional Objects

20 March 2009

This seminar investigated the nature of making sculptural objects and their references to functional objects.

Speakers included: Jeanne Cannizzo (anthropologist, University of Edinburgh), Stephen Feeke (curator, Henry Moore Institute), Dean Hughes (artist, Edinburgh College of Art), Chantal Knowles (principal curator, Oceania, Americas and Africa, National Museums of Scotland), Alistair Rider (art historian, University of St. Andrews).

Dominic Paterson (art historian, University of Glasgow).

Download Abstracts

The Aerial View

Spatial Knowledges and Spatial Practices
Conference 13 October 2008

Internationally renowned cultural historians and academics explored the historic, political and cultural meanings of the aerial or elevated view. Speakers investigated how the aerial view can be defined, how images are produced, how ‘elevated’ one has to be in order to produce or experience an aerial view, and how images are used and consumed.

Experiments and Experience: Getting inside the work of Roman Signer and Monika Sosnowska

Tuesday 6 November 2007
Seminar Venue: Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh
Evening Reception: The Fruitmarket Gallery

Organised in collaboration with Talbot Rice Gallery, whose exhibition of the work of Monika Sosnowska took place from 27 October to 8 December, this seminar brought together a range of critical perspectives on the two galleries’ current exhibitions. Speakers included Isla Leaver-Yap (curator at Baltic in Newcastle), and University of Edinburgh staff Richard Coyne (Architecture), Angela Dimitrakaki (History of Art) and Tamara Trodd (History of Art). The seminar was chaired by Moira Jeffrey (arts writer and journalist).

Click here to access the seminar papers.

What Remains: The life and death of skulls in contemporary art
The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, 14 March 2008

Organised by Jon Wood (Henry Moore Institute) and Stacy Boldrick (The Fruitmarket Gallery), this research seminar examined the phenomenon of the image of the skull in contemporary art and culture. The seminar considered the significance of human skulls and their two and three-dimensional representation in the visual culture of the past, and what the image of the skull means for contemporary culture today. Speakers included Dawn Ades (University of Essex), Tiffany Jenkins (Institute of Ideas), Kristina Johansen (New Media Scotland) and Jon Wood, and the artists Brian Catling (Ruskin School of Art) and Koot (Leeds).

The speakers brought together images, objects and texts from diverse cultural spheres, including a decorated Bavarian skull, medieval transi tombs, 20th and 21st century sculpture, the Stealth bomber, heavy metal and punk album covers, tattoos, Goth culture, outsider art and the surrealist essay ‘Heads and Skulls’.

A selection of the seminar papers will soon be published on this website.

Work with Older People, Ways of Seeing

The Gallery deliver ‘Ways of Seeing’ Gallery tours for visitors over 60 during each exhibition. These tours are led by freelance educator Mary Keegan. Participants take part in a guided tour followed by a visual presentation and discussion exploring ideas presented in the exhibition. There is no charge and refreshments are provided. No previous experience of art is necessary to participate.

Community Outreach, Cross Generational Project
December 2006 – May 2007

The ‘Edinburgh Shawl’ Cross-generational Project 2007, was a collaborative community outreach project delivered by The Fruitmarket Gallery, The City of Edinburgh Council Community Learning Department and Granton Youth Centre. The project involved two groups; the Ways of Seeing Group, an over 60’s group and the Granton Youth Centre Young Women’s Group, both from the Pilton area of Edinburgh. The groups worked with artist Julia Douglas and freelance gallery educator Mary Keegan to undertake research into contemporary art, gender, womanhood and the body. This research informed the group’s practical work which resulted in the production of a felted shawl, referencing the shawl collection at Paisely Museum, and in particular the ‘kirking shawl’ traditionally worn by a new mother on the way to church to ‘cleanse’ herself after childbirth.



Design by Elizabeth McLean, The Fruitmarket Gallery.
Developed by Ian Wallace, The Dream Organisation.
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