Edinburgh Art Festival welcomes ‘doormat thief’ with major art showcase

One of Kevin Harman's sculptures made from skip rubbish
One of Kevin Harman's sculptures made from skip rubbish
Share this article
Have your say

A YOUNG Scottish artist who made his name pinching 200 doormats from homes round Morningside for a student artwork is to have his first major international showcase in the Edinburgh Art Festival.

Kevin Harman’s work has also included rearranging workers’ skips of tangled wood and debris into painstaking and detailed sculptures – and then holding exhibition “openings” inside the skip.

“We are keen to make sure that the festival represents new artists that are coming out across the country and city, and coming out of Edinburgh College of Art,” said festival director Sorcha Carey. “It’s really exciting. It’s the first commission for a very young artist.”

This year’s festival includes more than 45 exhibitions from national galleries, featuring household names of modern art to “pop-up” and outdoor shows showcasing emerging artists.

The Turner Prize-winning Scottish sound artist Susan Philipsz will do a series of short sound pieces across the city in reaction to Edinburgh Castle’s One O’Clock Gun.

Among the international names, Polish artist Robert Kusmirovski will create a wartime bunker-like installation in Summerhall, the new festival venue which scored a string of successes in the Edinburgh Fringe last year. He created waves in a Berlin show several years ago with a installation using a cargo railway carriage of the kind used to transport Jews to the Nazi death camps.

At the National Museum of Scotland, Dutch artist Melvin Moti will produce a film and installation using fluorescent stones in the museum’s collection. It is the first of a series of residencies at the museum.

Other artists include Californian Rachel Mayeri, whose film Primate Cinema: Apes as Family includes footage of chimpanzees at Edinburgh Zoo. Mayeri’s work compares the habits of humans and animals. She filmed the Edinburgh chimps’ reactions to images of human actors, in animatronic masks, mimicking chimpanzee gestures.

“It shows both human drama and chimps interacting with human drama,” said Ms Carey.

Harman’s work is in the “promenade” section of the festival which is designed to show artists working with the architecture of the city and outside the normal gallery setting, said Ms Carey.

She first saw his work at the Edinburgh College of Art degree show of 2008, when he claimed to have removed 210 doormats from homes in the city and showed them in a huge floor artwork. His act of taking doormats came out of a feeling that nobody in his building spoke to each other and he “wanted to create a sense of crisis”, she said.