Yesterday (Wednesday 26th October) saw the foundations being laid for Edinburgh’s new world-class contemporary visual arts space on Calton Hill.
By the end of 2017, under the direction of Kate Gray of the Collective and the City Observatory and in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council, one of Edinburgh’s most iconic locations, will become a landmark destination for visitors and a space where national and international artists can exhibit their work and be inspired.
The £4m restoration project will include conservation of the Observatory’s original 19th century William Henry Playfair designs, its original telescopes and astronomical instruments and its grounds; the creation of a subterranean gallery, and the building of a new restaurant with enviable views across the city.
The Collective, which was founded in 1984 is internationally praised for its work with emergent artists and many world-class artists including Martin Boyce, Jeremy Deller, Claire Barclay, Moyna Flannigan and Callum Innes.
When the Collective moved to their present site on Calton Hill in 2013 they became custodians of the City Observatory complex, which was in a state of serious disrepair and on the Buildings at Risk Register. Thanks to the support of various trusts, foundations and private donors, their vision to create a world-class destination for visitors to the City and a major international centre for contemporary art will soon become a reality.
The Collective’s new contemporary art space is scheduled for completion and to be fully accessible to the public for the first time in history by the end of 2017.
Councillor Richard Lewis, Culture Convenor for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The redevelopment of the Old Observatory on Calton Hill could be one of the most significant cultural and heritage projects to take place in Edinburgh. Known as the birthplace of astronomy and timekeeping, and situated with breathtaking views in the heart of the Athens of the North, the Observatory will be reinstated to the original William Playfair designs. This is a major step forward and the Council is proud to be working with Collective to realise this ambitious project. Soon, Calton Hill will once again be home to a creative hub of history, art and science for residents and visitors to enjoy.”
Kate Gray, Director of the Collective, added: “We are thrilled to be at this point in the project and are now able to see our vision becoming a reality. This innovative project is the culmination of five years of work and would not be possible without the huge amount of support from artists, individuals and funders we have received. We are very excited to see our plans progress over the next year and we look forward to welcoming people to a new kind of City Observatory when we open the site freely to the public for the first time in its history.”
You can find out more detail on how to potentially support the 'City Observatory' redevelopment via this link.