Nordic Narratives in Edinburgh

The Scottish Storytelling Centre will become a Nordic House during this year’s Edinburgh Festival with a multi-media exhibition of landscape art from all five of the Nordic nations. One of the most heavily visited parts of Edinburgh will become a visible symbol of Nordic/Scottish cooperation with all national flags flying together over the Royal Mile.

The Scottish collaborating partners are the Scottish Storytelling Centre, architect, Lateral North Director and Nordic House curator Graham Hogg and Lesley Riddoch, broadcaster and Director of Nordic Horizons a policy group which brings Nordic specialists to speak in the Scottish Parliament.

A Nordic Culture Fund grant allows the showcase of reproduced paintings, photography, apposite music and a makeshift Nordic hut to depict a small number of the landscapes to be found across Scandinavia including:

  • Women at Sea – women and families involved in fishing & farming on the Finnish Åland islands before WW2.
  • Kaare Espolin Johnson – Norwegian painter and graphic artist who produced striking images of people & seascapes, despite being almost blind.
  • Johannes Sveinsson Kjarval – an orphan and fisherman who became Iceland’s most prolific painter using a variety of styles to depict landscape and lava formation.
  • Vennelyst – photos comparing the 1900s with today in Copenhagen’s oldest allotment garden where families traditionally moved to live for the summer.
  • Sweden – photographs of Kiruna town, currently being moved to make way for iron mining operations.

The collaboration aims to question the myth of an empty frozen North & explore contrasts and continuities with Scottish art & landscape.

The Nordic House opens on Wednesday, 29 July and closes on Saturday, 5 September with an afternoon of films about the two painters and talks from Espolin Johnson’s son Gisle and the Icelandic Consul Kristin Hannesdottir There will also be a children’s trail with Nordic soft toys and a find-the-animal quiz.

The Storytelling Centre is located on Edinburgh’s second busiest pedestrian thoroughfare and has six shows daily during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and an estimated 11,000 visitors daily in peak summer months. The building is part of the John Knox House (Edinburgh’s oldest) and contains a bookshop, exhibition and cafe.