7 great reasons to visit Fruitmarket

7 great reasons to visit Fruitmarket

26 Jan 2024

This gem of a Scottish arts site, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary,  showcases the finest contemporary art

Head to Edinburgh, where Fruitmarket lies in the city’s centre. Image: Creative Commons 

Where can you find Fruitmarket?

This contemporary art space is housed in two former market buildings, a stone’s throw from Edinburgh’s historic Waverley railway station. It is easy to access on foot, via the Market Street exit. 

Enjoy a spot of lunch in the spacious café. Image: courtesy of Fruitmarket 

Why should you visit?

Fruitmarket is dedicated to showing cutting-edge contemporary art. This is displayed in an array of galleries, many of which feature the incredible architecture that alludes to the buildings’ commercial past, including a wooden-clad warehouse and industrial beams. Alongside exhibitions that encompass painting, sculpture, moving image and more, there is a great café and a bookshop stocked with artist monographs, fiction, postcards and locally made gifts.

She Loved to Breathe – Pure Silence, 1987. Image: © Zarina Bhimji, All Rights Reserved, DACS/Artimage 2022

Which exhibits are a must-see?

Ugandan-born British photographer and filmmaker Zarina Bhimji is presenting a series of works that span her four-decade career. This includes her new film Blind Spot (2023), which explores ideas of home in London, where she lives and works. The artist is known for creating pieces that are both politically engaged yet intimate and personal. Check the website for news on more upcoming shows. 

Actor and artist Jill Smith. Photograph: Mhairi Law 

Whats on this month?

Actor and performance artist Jill Smith has embarked on a Zodiac journey, which include live actions throughout the island landscape of Lewis and Harris, where she lives. Each month the gallery publishes diary entries and photographs relating to her rituals, which are informed by astrological language and the personas assigned to each star sign. This is a full-circle moment for Smith, who was the first female artist to join the Fruitmarket programme in 1975. See her ‘Capricorn’ accounts, published this month on the gallerys website. 

Any particular artistic connections? 

The gallery has exhibited artists from across the world, but also supports incredible home-grown talent. This includes the work of artists Eduardo Paolozzi, Gwen Hardie and Steven Campbell. In 2021, following an extensive renovation by Reiach and Hall Architects, Scottish sculptor Karla Black filled the galleries with her conceptual installations that make use of everyday materials including cosmetics, plaster and cleaning products.

Charles Jencks’s Cells of Life – landforms that mark the entrance to Jupiter Artland. Image: © the artist’s estate/Allan Pollok-Morris/Courtesy of Jupiter Artland Foundation 

Make a day of it!

Edinburgh is teeming with incredible creative institutions. You need only pop over the road to visit the City Art Centre, which focuses on the rich history of the applied arts in the area. The National is also close by on the Mound, alongside the Royal Scottish Academy. For those wanting to travel further, the two Modern galleries can be reached via a 40-minute uphill climb, as well as by bus. If a sculpture park is on the cards, don’t miss the wondrous Jupiter Artland, which is filled with specially commissioned works nestled within wood and parkland. It is just outside the city, 50 minutes by bus or 40 minutes by car from Fruitmarket.

Here’s a fun fact…

As one might expect, the gallery takes its name from the buildings’ former use as a fruit and vegetable market, which opened in 1938. It formed part of a commercial hub that surrounded Waverley station following its construction in the late 1800s, with traders gradually moving out towards Market Street. The relocation was partly due to an increasing change in activity, when circuses, funfairs, menageries and travelling exhibitions replaced produce stalls.

Find out more!

See fruitmarket.co.uk

Going local 

Do you live close by – then why not join a local Arts Society?

The Arts Society Edinburgh – edfas.uk

The Arts Society Fife – theartssocietyfife.org.uk

Upcoming lectures include The Empire Strikes Back: how Victorian art changed the world with Arts Society Lecturer Hilary Guise (arranged by The Arts Society Edinburgh), and Winston Churchill: an inspirational life in photographs, words and paintings with Arts Society Lecturer Mark Cottle (arranged by The Arts Society Fife). Both talks are on 13 February.

About the Author

Holly Black

is an arts and culture writer


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