Edinburgh Printmakers, a visual arts organization moving to a gentrifying neighbourhood in the Scottish capital, is putting its stamp on the place by wrapping a corner of the building with an enormous work of public art – by a Canadian artist.
For his project In Other Words, Alberta's Derek Michael Besant solicited stories from locals with five questions, including "tell me your biggest secret," "what do you dream about?" and "do you have any regrets?" Thirty people responded to the online call-out, and Mr. Besant extracted selected passages from the answers to create a collaborative poem that paints a picture of the Fountainbridge neighbourhood and its inhabitants. "There's an element of the confessional," said Mr. Besant during an interview on Wednesday, his 65th birthday. "Some of the stories were so poignant and so revealing and intimate."
The artist has created six 3.6-metre-high panels where extracts in his own handwriting float across out-of-focus selfies of the contributors, unrecognizable in their fuzziness. They're being installed outside the building next week, in preparation for the Edinburgh Art Festival.
In the fall, a gallery show inside will feature more of the prints, as Mr. Besant, an Alberta College of Art and Design professor, settles in for a term as artist-in-residence – a Canadian creating this work for and about a Scottish neighbourhood. "By being the outsider, in one way, I have a kind of tabula rasa; I can come into that environment clean," said Mr. Besant from his home near Okotoks, south of Calgary.
"I am not clouded by being Scottish. … I can hit it fresh."