Edinburgh has long been known for its unparalleled art scene.
The country’s capital is not only home to National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, but on many of the tiny winding streets are hidden artistic jewels.
From oil paintings to neon bar message illustrations, Edinburgh has thousands of works that will stay with you after you leave. Just ask actor Russell Tovey and gallerist Robert Diament, the dynamic duo behind ever-popular art podcast Talk Art which this month has turned its sights to Edinburgh.
“Every year we went to the Fringe” explains Tovey “but there is also an art festival – Edinburgh Art Festival, that people aren’t really as bothered about.
“The Fringe is a big deal, and I think Art Now gets overshadowed by the big festivals.
“There is an art journey to be had beside that. Rob always talked about Jupiter Artland, and when the podcast came up, Rob said we had to do it. I went up, and now all I do is talk about that place”.
Tovey and Diament met ten years ago in the National Gallery, which holds a special place in their hearts.
“We were collecting Tracey Emin’s work and we were the youngest collectors and she sat us down like well, you must have something in common”, Tovey tells me.
“I said I'd bought a drawing and Rob asked me which one I had bought. I told him that I’d bought ‘No idea why they jump so high’ and he said that he had it reserved, and I had bought it. Everyone around us moved away and we just geeked off on Tracy Emin monoprints. We spoke for an hour and a half at the time.”
Talk Art is the brain child of the two that was born from their own mothers’ insistence that they should record these chats where they ‘geek out’ over art with one another.
“Russell and I were already doing this, and all we’re doing is turning on a microphone and documenting it” says Diament. “It's amazing to hear the artists’ voice, which often you don’t get to hear. It's amazing to have this diary.”
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“We make art for everyone – it's non elitist, non-academic” continues Tovey. “We don’t want to mystify it or for people to feel angry about it. They say never consider religion or politics when you're drunk – they should add contemporary art. It’s so divisive.”
“It doesn’t even have to be contemporary art, it’s just engaging with the art that you like” Robert adds.
“So many people have said ‘art is not for me’ - they wouldn’t even go to the Tate. Just starting with one artwork is good enough. We want to make that as a life habit.”
In celebration of the Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh’s art scene and the close of the festival season, Talk Art has partnered with Bombay Sapphire to create a mini-series exclusively on the Edinburgh art scene. Tovey and Diament talk to the city’s leading artists, curators and gallerists, including the Head of Exhibitions at Jupiter Artland, Jessica Harrison, the Director of Collective Gallery Kate Gray, and Sorcha Carey on behalf of Edinburgh Art Festival among others.
“Edinburgh’s creative and cultural scene is completely unique,” says Tovey.
“Scotland had a close-knit art scene and I think some of the best artists come out of Scotland”, says Diament. “That’s why it’s so amazing that we’re getting to do the podcast on Scotland, and Edinburgh specifically.
“It has a very unique perspective. It's that friendly quality that people just love in Scotland, that is hard to get anywhere else. You can walk into a gallery and just talk to anyone. It’s unlike anywhere else, actually.
“I believe a lot of the art is unique to the situation: Scotland has that enthusiasm.”
With the theme of Bombay Sapphire’s new campaign ‘Discover the Possibilities Within’ which aims to ‘stir creativity’, both Tovey and Diament hope that the mini-series will inspire people to seek out the art around them in their home cities, or perhaps even create their own.
“We want to get the message out that everyone has the possibility to be creative, to have that awoken between them, and that everyone should be encouraged” says Tovey. “Art does help your life – you can discover the possibilities within. The ideas from the campaign are powerful and it's exactly what we’re about.”