Edinburgh Art Festival flags up Hello greeting

Peter Liversidge: Flags for Edinburgh
Image caption Peter Liversidge's Hello flags will fly at 50 locations

A project designed to urge Edinburgh's institutions to replace their usual flags with one saying "Hello" has been commissioned for the Edinburgh Art Festival.

The festival, now in its 10th year, is under way - the day before the official opening of the huge Edinburgh Fringe.

The International Festival and the Book Festival start in just over a week.

Artist Peter Liversidge's work will see 50 flagpoles welcoming visitors at the busiest time of year for the city.

His "Flags for Edinburgh" project will see about 50 locations swapping their flags for Liversidge's "hello" message.

The flagpoles bearing the message range from city council buildings to the National Galleries of Scotland, as well as the Royal Bank of Scotland HQ.

The Assembly Rooms on George Street and the historic Canongate Kirk also greet visitors with Liversidge's message but Edinburgh's three biggest landmarks have decided against joining in.

Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Scottish Parliament building will not take part in the artist's scheme.

Image caption Ross Sinclair, from - 'Real Life and How to Live it in Auld Reekie

The flag project is one of 10 newly-commissioned art works for the month-long festival, which will also be hosting 50 exhibitions in 30 galleries, museums and pop-up venues around the city.

Other works commissioned for the festival include a new installation by Turner-prize nominated Christine Borland and American artist Brody Condon.

For their work, Daughters of Decayed Tradesmen at the New Carlton Burial Ground on Calton Hill, Scottish artist Borland and New York-based Condon have refurbished a derelict watchtower in the graveyard, which was used in the early 19th century to deter grave robbers.

It will be hung with the oral history of women from Edinburgh's Trades Maidens Hospital whose tales have been converted into binary computer code by Condon.

Robert Montgomery's Fire poem, which is sited on the Mound, will be burned at dusk to mark the start of the festival.

The theme of the commissions is Parley because organisers said they wanted to start a discussion about Scottish identity.

Ross Sinclair's Real Life and how to live it in Auld Reekie imagines Scotland after a referendum has turned the country into a theme park.

Major solo exhibitions during the festival include leading contemporary artists Peter Doig, Gabriel Orozco, Nam June Paik and Gregor Schneider.

An exhibition by Jeremy Deller and long-standing collaborator Alan Kane will be on show at Jupiter Artland on the outskirts of the city.

As well as established artists and retrospective's such as the photography of Man Ray, the festival will also feature the work of rising stars such as Rachel Maclean.

Image caption Robert Montgomery Fire poem
Image caption Jeremy Deller in collaboration with Alan Kane - Steam Powered Internet Machine
Image caption Rachel Maclean: I HEART SCOTLAND
Image caption Man Ray - Self-Portrait with Camera
Image caption Peter Doig: No Foreign Lands

Festival director Sorcha Carey said the programme of commissioned works was a "significant achievement" for the festival.

"It is allowing us to reanimate and shed light on some of the darker areas of the city," she said.

She said projects such as Borland's work at the graveyard watchtower would leave a "genuine legacy for the city" as it would be available for use after the festival.

Carey said the flags project had been given fantastic support by Edinburgh institutions despite the notable exceptions.

Liversidge said the flag was a very simple greeting but always conveyed a message which had subtext.

The choice of flag to be flown and when it should be displayed has been the cause of many arguments in Scotland and around the world.

"Hello is a beginning. It is a simple greeting. There is no subtext," said Liversidge.

"The idea is that at this busiest time of the year it makes a buoyant greeting to the people who are in the city for the festival."

Liversidge added that there were 20 more flags available if Edinburgh institutions wanted to offer their flagpoles.

Edinburgh Castle's military status means it must fly the Union Flag at all times.

However, Brigadier David Allfrey, who is in charge of the Tattoo, will appear "in conversation" with Liversidge during the festival to speak about issues raised by flags.

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