New Street Exhibition Space, Holyrood Park Rangers Lodge and Museum of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Fri 25 Jan—Sat 9 Feb

Few European cities can boast a hill and wild parkland in the middle of the city. But in Edinburgh, the familiar sight of the extinct volcano, Arthur’s Seat, visible for miles around the city, and the rocky slopes of Salisbury Craigs, provide a spectacular natural backdrop to the capital.

The Arthur’s Seat Project, created and curated by artist Anne-Marie Culhane, is a collaborative venture resulting from the first ever residency on Arthur’s Seat. Funded by the Scottish Natural Heritage, its remit was to explore how people see and experience this famous landmark.

‘l was intrigued by having a mountain in the middle of the city,’ says Culhane. ‘Some of the people I have talked to regard Arthur’s Seat as a mythical place which is an essential reason for them being here or has become that way. Other people don’t give it a second glance. It’s really interesting to find out how people relate to it and, on


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Collaborating with other artists and running workshops, Culhane also spent time handing out questionnaires and interviewing members of the public, asking them how they respond emotionally and physically to the place and what they use it for. The comeback was overwhelming.

‘I got so excited about the project,’ says Culhane, ‘l encouraged a lot of artists to take part and then it just escalated. As soon as you mention Arthur’s Seat to people in Edinburgh you get all these stories. Many go there to get away from the city but people also go there to get a perspective of the city. A lot of people always go there with other people, and pretty much everyone had a favourite spot.’

Along with the public responses, Culhane’s own artistic contributions involved photographic works made with the help of geologists at the British Geological Survey. Culhane has also produced two film works inspired by the many myths surrounding Arthur’s Seat. The culminating three-venue exhibition encompasses sculpture, film, text and poetry, film, photography and

Back projection: olivine basalt containing large pyroxene crystals from Dunsapie Hill

painting and together with the free accompanying publication reveals just how important Arthur’s Seat is to people.

‘There’s something about that place which marks people and for me, it’s like a talisman. Whenever I’m in town, I’ll always look for it. It’s like a reference point, but something a bit stronger than that. It’s really quite spiritual.’ (Helen Monaghan)

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