OPEN CLOSE Exhibition to Reimagine the Historic Closes of Edinburgh's Royal Mile

Details have been announced for Open Close, a temporary experimental arts installation project led by a team of award-winning artists and architects using sound, light, sculpture, design and visual arts to re-imagine three Edinburgh Royal Mile closes during a four-week exhibition taking place 14 July - 11 August.

Taking contemporary art out of the traditional gallery setting and into the heart of Scotland's Capital, Open Close promises to re-imagine Carrubers Close, Chalmers Close & Trunks Close in Edinburgh's historic Old Town, temporarily transforming them into a sensory open-air gallery in the hope of altering public perception of the overlooked and sometimes neglected alleyways. Through its innovative temporary interventions Open Close will support and is supported by Edinburgh World Heritage initiative Twelve Closes, a major grassroots urban renewal initiative focussed on long term transformation of twelve of Edinburgh's historic pedestrian streets.

The installation is part of the Architecture Fringe Festival; an independent, contributor-led open platform for new work and projects across the arts which explore architecture and how it makes a difference to our lives.

As well as aiming to reach large numbers of pedestrian visitors and local residents passing through the closes, the project's objective is also to engage with urban policy makers and practitioners in debate around the topic of urban renewal through creative practice. The project will generate data which will feed into the Twelve Closes Project and will also inform, via a survey launched recently, research being carried out by St Andrews University into people's emotional experience of the built environment and how creative use of space can transform that experience.

The survey, created in partnership between the Open Close Collective and St Andrews University, will gather data and compile research on people's emotional experiences of the spaces before, during and after the exhibition has been launched. An online photo upload and survey which will remain live for the duration of the project, it centres around examining the socio-emotional value of the built environment and by running both before, during and after the exhibition period will enable St Andrews University and Open Close to examine the impact that the creative transformation of the closes has on the imaginations of the people who inhabit them. The results from the survey will lead to an output document to assist Edinburgh World Heritage in their ongoing long term renewal of the Closes, Smarter Choices, Smarter Places on their work in promoting pedestrian and cycle transport across the city and as a creative tool for debate on policy approaches to under-used urban space as part of the Architecture Fringe Festival.

Founded in 2015 with the aim to use innovative installations to re-define the identity of under valued urban space, the Open Close collective comprises four architects from two architectural practices, five artists, a sociologist and two web developers; all of whom are interested in exploring the idea of art and architecture as vehicles for transformation and improvement of space and place:

• Tamsin Cunningham (WT Architecture/Open Close Founder)

• Eileen Hall (Artist/Icosis Architects/Open Close Founder)

• Euan Millar (Icosis Architects)

Michael Davidson (Icosis Architects)

• Toby Paterson (Artist)

• Tommy Perman (Artist, Designer & Musician)

• Rob St John (Artist, Musician & Social Geographer)

• Niall Webb (Artist)

• David Lemm (Artist & Designer)

• Dr Juliette Summers (St Andrews University)

Michael Morrison (Web developer/Writer/Musician)

• Mick Perkins (Web developer)

Open Close is funded by Creative Scotland, Edinburgh World Heritage, and City of Edinburgh Council administered funds; the New Waverley Development Fund and Smarter Choices, Smarter Places.

Tamsin Cunningham and Eileen Hall, Founders of Open Close, said: "The Open Close Project was conceived as a way of demonstrating how our smaller urban spaces can become containers for more joy, wellbeing, stimulation and play and the role that temporary art and architecture can play in this transformation. We believe that these types of intimate pedestrian space can perform an important role in providing a more imaginative experience of the city. In an urban design world driven often by the needs of vehicles rather than people, such spaces are all too rare. We wanted to examine how a multi-disciplinary collaboration involving not just architects but artists, musicians, designers, social geographers, sociologists and digital agencies might inform an alternative way of re-imagining such public spaces.

The outcome of this collaborative approach showed us the importance not just of effecting physical change in the form of temporary installations but in gaining better understanding of people's emotional reaction to the built environment. There has been a lot of great research on pedestrian numbers, traffic flow and the various urban realm issues faced by the inhabitants of Edinburgh's Royal Mile but relatively little academic analysis of the emotional experience of a place: the Open Close survey aims to engage people in thinking about how they feel and what is important to them about these routes through the heart of the city."

A launch event, marking the opening of the exhibition, will take place 7-9pm on Friday 14 July at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

Further details about the Open Close exhibition will be announced at a later date.

To take part in the online survey visit open-close.co.uk/take-part and to sign up for news on the forthcoming installations, survey workshops and Open Close events visit open-close.co.uk. Join the conversation - Instagram: @open_close_art / Twitter: @OpenCloseArt.



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