Art review: Art Walk Porty Festival, various venues, Portobello

Mixing exhibitions with invitations to walk, cycle and even swim, Art Walk Porty has established itself as a dynamic festival drawing on and celebrating its unique location, writes Susan Mansfield

When We Come Out Of The Water, by Tanatsei Gambura
When We Come Out Of The Water, by Tanatsei Gambura

Art Walk Porty Festival, various venues, Portobello ****

Portobello’s visual art festival, which kept going through the pandemic with outdoor artworks and walks, swings back into action in full this year. There’s a commissioned art programme, with events, workshops, film screenings and book launches, while the local art community celebrates by showing art in cafes, shops and people’s homes.

The theme for this year’s festival is Salt, which allows curator Rosy Naylor to explore in a range of directions: historical, scientific, ecological. The festival is supporting long-term projects by four commissioned artists which will conclude next spring, but each presents some work at the Art Walk Hub at 189 Portobello High Street, as well as hosting events and activities.

Salt at Joppa pans, by Mahala Le May

Joanne Matthews has sculpted objects out of salt, half-buried in a pile of salt crystals, relics of contemporary life after a salty apocalypse of rising sea levels and over-salination. They also present a collection of poems, Plumes of Salted Air. Tonya McMullan has been sampling water and plant life along the Seafield promenade, and has created a perfume based on how the sea will smell in the future as acidification increases.

Artist and baker Mahala Le May invites visitors to explore their relationship with salt as a culinary ingredient, and to taste different kinds of Scottish salt at the Joppa Salt Pans, where salt was produced until 1953.

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Natasha Thembiso Ruwona is here as a curator, supporting three new live art micro commissions by local black artists, including Tanatsei Gambura’s When We Come Out of the Water, inviting people to bring fresh flowers to Joppa Bandstand to honour black lives lost at sea, and curating a programme of films.

With invitations to walk, cycle and even swim, and Film Nights on the prom on Saturdays, Art Walk Porty has established itself as a dynamic festival drawing on and celebrating its unique location.

Art Walk Porty runs until 11 September, see www.artwalkporty.co.uk