Category Archives: Arts

Stranger Hings: Chris McQueer announces sequel to debut book

Last night Chris McQueer announced that he will be releasing a sequel to his literary sensation Hings.

Hings: The B-Sides will feature eight short stories in a 40-page A5 zine.

404 Ink will release the booklet in mid-December as part of their new zine series.

The first instalment of Hings was published in July this year and was an immediate hit in the Scottish literary community.

Comparisons were made between McQueer, Irvine Welsh and Limmy for his surreal humour and focus on Glasgow’s working class community.

His publishers discovered McQueer when he submitted a short story to the first issue of their magazine in November last year.

They invited him to read at the launch party for the Error issue, where he read an extract from ‘The Dug’.

“We loved Chris from the moment his short story ‘The Universe Factory’ landed in our inbox,” said 404 Ink when they announced Hings in March. “After bringing down the house with his readings we knew 404 had to publish him,” his publishers commented.

Prior to submitting his work, McQueer was already publishing his work on the long-form writing platform, Medium.

He had generated thousands of followers on Twitter, a community that 404 Ink were able to tap into when promoting the book.

One of their tactics included encouraging Twitter users to Photoshop images of Hings into pop culture pictures.

404 Ink are known for their innovative approach to promoting books online, and were nominated for a Creative Edinburgh Award on Monday.

Grown Together Exhibition: Consequences of disconnect between humans and nature

Photo Credit: Rachel Mackie

Deep within a third floor gallery on the outskirts of the city centre, hides the Grown Together Exhibition.

The Grown Together exhibition experiments with nature and beauty in unique and powerful ways, and includes the collaborative work of eighteen artists.

The sparse surroundings add extra atmosphere to stunning and original pieces that evoke real emotion from its audience.

With a vibrant mix of audio, visual and poetry, this display shows our various connections to nature, and the beauty of the world around us.

Artist Anne Gilchrist said: “I have grown steadily to understand the terrible consequences of human disconnect from nature and hope my work may speak for the non-human.”

And this is the reality of the pieces that are on display, a real examination of our impact on our surroundings.

The diversity of the artists shows a full and colourful approach that never repeats or bores, and each piece of work offers an insightful and mesmerising view into the creator’s mind-set.

Participating artist Isabell Buenz has always been inspired by the natural world, using paper and old books within her work quite regularly.

“I work with seconds, discarded paper and books. The books I use are second hand from charity shops, donations or discarded library books. When I create my book sculptures I use books and book pages that are relevant to the subject of the event,” Buenz said.

Photo Credit: Rachel Mackie

She goes on to describe her work with the gallery as:

“Probably one of the best exhibitions I have been part of. It deserves to be shown in a nationally acclaimed gallery.”

This is a comment reiterated by many, that this exhibition deserves more exposure due to the high level of talent that is on display.

The work was put together by artist and curator Tansy Lee Moir. It is situated in Gallery One, St Margaret’s House, and is free entry.

Trainspotting at the Kings

Photo Credit: Kings Theatre

According to a press release by the Kings Theatre, “It’s just a scabby wee book, what the fuck is all the fuss about?” is the question Irvine Welsh asked himself before seeing the first rehearsals of the stage adaptation of  Trainspotting back in 1994.

Director Gareth Nicholls brings the story back to the Kings Theatre 23 years after the wee book about the underbelly of Leith’s drug scene gained global notoriety through film and multiple stage productions.

Nicholls’ production however draws from the original book, play and film, combing them to make a new piece of theatre.

Even before the show started the crowd was drawn into Thatcher’s Britain with a well thought out pre-curtain soundtrack, building anticipation by rekindling fond memories of the film.

After the recent success of T2, revisiting the original story seemed to be a logical step.

The first scene dropped straight into the middle of the story and automatically gave any new viewers an insight into the characters and where the story was going to take us. Renton (Lorn Macdonald) and Spud (Gavin Jon Wright) sat in a spotlight discussing how not to get the job they were both applying for: “a wee dap ay speed just the ticket.”

The first thing that was very apparent was how accurate both of the young actors’ Edinburgh accents were, something that McGregor’s on screen Renton lacked. It was a set up for what was going to be a very enjoyable performance.

With a cast of just five and multiple characters to include, it was interesting to see how the actors were going to cope portraying such well known fictional personalities.

This was achieved seamlessly. The costume changes were so quick that sometimes it was hard to notice that they had been offstage at all. This was matched by the ability of the actors to move between their personas.

Photo Credit: Kings Theatre

Although it was hard to fault a single performance, a special mention has to be given to Jon Wright’s portrayal of Spud. From comic timing allowing time for the laughter to settle between his jokes to his facial expressions and his movement, he had the character down to a tee.

The inclusion of long monologues for all of the characters helped to give the story real depth. The script also expanded the story to include a lot of important material which the film did not and the first hour flew by.

The dark humour of the book was masterfully delivered, giving light to the hopelessness of the time and occasionally making you question if you should be laughing at all.

Given the growing gap between the social classes and the rise in drug-related deaths in Scotland, the story is as relevant today as it was in 1994.

Whether you are a fan of the original or someone who is new to Trainspotting, this is a five star performance which should not be missed.

Top Gear on Steroids: The Grand Tour Review

The Grand Tour starring Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond.

The Grand Tour opens with a woeful scene as Jeremy Clarkson makes his way to a London Airport. News reports are conveniently edited together with the grey British weather in an attempt to create a sense of misery regarding the BBC’s decision to drop Clarkson and his band of merry men.

As Clarkson finds himself in LA, he switches from the modest black cab to an extravagant Mustang. Much of the episode is spent giving the middle finger to his former employer and this switch from gloom to sunshine, whilst being serenaded by the dulcet tones of Hothouse Flowers, serves as overkill.

This opening sequence alone is said to have cost over three million pounds to produce and while overly lavish, does set a tone for the new series.

A story of three middle class, white, British men freed from the shackles of the BBC and free to be as racist, sexist and politically incoherent as they like. The three men drive off into the sunset and are joined by armies of fans on a variety of vehicles in the open desert.

Continue reading Top Gear on Steroids: The Grand Tour Review

23rd Edition of the Italian Film Festival

by Giulia Maccagli and Koldo Sandoval


The 23rd edition of the Italian Film Festival comes at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh, this year.

The Festival, running from the 4th until the 17th of March, has venues in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and Inverness.

At the Festival, there is the best of the “cinema italiano”, currently on a high with the global and awarded success of Paolo Sorrentino, “Youth”.

Alongside established directors’ names, such as Sergio Castellitto, Cristina Comencini, and Gabriele Salvatores, there are also new film directors, as Edoardo Falcone and Laura Bispuri.

The Festival will see on its screen renown Italian  actors, as Valeria Golino, Elio Germano, and Jasmine Trinca.

This year the Festival has a special focus on Luchino Visconti, an Italian theater, opera, cinema director, and screen-writer, in the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his death.

The 23rd edition of the Italian Film Festival is also welcomed by the Italian Government’s new support to the film industry with an investment of £300 million a year.


Record Visitor Numbers For Scottish Tourist Hotspots

Scotland has seen a 5.5% increase in visitor numbers in 2015, with Edinburgh Castle leading the surge of major attractions.

The castle has overtaken the National Museum of Scotland as the country’s leading tourist hub for the first time, with over 1.5 million visitors, according to figures released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).

The National Museum was also the UK’s most popular museum outside of London, and Scotland’s most popular free attraction.

For the first time, the National Galleries of Scotland welcomed a combined total of more than 2.1 million visitors – thought to be a result of The Amazing World of M.C. Escher and Artist Rooms: Roy Lichtenstein exhibitions, with a 35% and 47% rise respectively.

Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens saw a 10% increase, which they credited to their Lights programme in the winter months.

Glasgow’s nine civic museums continue to be a draw for citizens and visitors to the city alike, with almost 4 million recorded visits – up 5% on 2014. The city’s Riverside Museum has seen a year on year rise since it opened in 2011.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum also saw a rise of 12.4%.

Tourism bosses have attributed the Scottish success to the current weakness of the pound to the euro and dollar, in making UK attractions more popular.

Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA, commented: “2015 continued to be a record year mainly due to our members continuing to show how diverse the UK is to both domestic and overseas visitors.

“More people visited Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum of Scotland, the National Gallery of Scotland, the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, combined, than visited Jamaica, Barbados and Cuba.

“More people visited Stirling Castle, Kelvingrove, the Riverside Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Glasgow, combined, than visited New Zealand. Together more people visited these 9 Scottish attractions than visited Australia and New Zealand combined.”

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at Historic Environment Scotland, also praised the findings.

“It’s great to see Edinburgh Castle at the top of the table in Scotland after another record breaking year for the castle.

“We’ve seen particular growth in online and travel trade at the castle in 2015, and following a refresh of the castle website towards the end of the year I’m sure this will continue.”

British Art Show 8 in Edinburgh

Edinburgh University Old College Quad quad, after refurbishment.

By Laurenci Dow & Paloma Ferreira

The British Art Show 8 is a touring exhibition that provides a vital overview of the most exciting contemporary art. This year it tours the work of over 40 artists to four cities across the UK, Edinburgh being one of the chosen UK cities. Three venues across Edinburgh will be housing different exhibitions with free admission to all of them. The show will be hosted in Edinburgh from the 13th of February to the 8th of May. The public is welcome to can access information regarding opening times and visitor information for each gallery from this website: Shot 2016-02-22 at 15.02.50

Our art correspondent Laurenci Dow reports from the Talbot Rice Gallery, featuring the following artists: ÅbäkeLawrence Abu HamdanBenedict DrewRyan GanderMelanie GilliganHayley Tompkins and Eileen Simpson and Ben White.

Visit the gallery website for more information: Talbot Rice Gallery.