Exploring the ‘hidden’ side of the Edinburgh International Festival

PJ Harvey performs on stage.
PJ Harvey performs on stage.
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They were some of the biggest names to take to the stages of the Edinburgh International Festival as it reached its landmark 70th anniversary.

The behind-the-scenes glimpses and candid rehearsal shots captured the likes of Jarvis Cocker, Charles Dance and Kate Dickie minutes before the curtain rose on their performances.

They have been revealed in a new exhibition exploring the “historic aspects” of the prestigious event – through the eyes of the winner of a competition offering exclusive access to artists and companies in dressing rooms, corridors and on stage.

Relaxed moments with superstar sitar player Anoushka Shankar, opera favourite Sir Bryn Terfel, hip hop dancers from Blue Boy Entertainment and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon are also featured in “Counterpoint,” which can be seen at the EIF headquarters at The Hub, on the Royal Mile until March.

It has been compiled by Beth Chalmers, who was selected from hundreds of entrants to become the official Festival Photographer this summer.

She also selected on-stage images of singer-songwriter PJ Harvey, conductor Sir Max Elder, and cabaret diva Meow Meow, who wowed audiences in a late-night show at The Hub.

Ms Chalmers, who studies music at Glasgow University, won the EIF contest after completing a photography course at Glasgow School of Art. Sponsored by the Morton Charitable Trust, the Festival Photographer contest is worth £3,500 to the winner.

She said: “Counterpoint is an overview of the Edinburgh International Festival as whole. It is a tricky theme as everything I photographed was so diverse and there were so many shots that I would have loved to share.

“I started by picking my favourite photos from each art form to make sure all of them were represented well in the exhibition and whittled it down from there.

“It definitely is challenging photographing so many art forms. They are all so different and each require specific photographic approaches.

“For example, when photographing dance, the best shots are over in a split second so you need to be ready to capture that perfect step before it’s gone.”

Festival director Fergus Linehan said: “It’s fantastic to have the opportunity to offer an access-all-areas pass to ensure the wider view of the festival is captured for posterity, and in doing so also provide this invaluable platform for young creative talent.”