Young Athenians

“Young Athenians [1] is a major group exhibition showcasing, in context, a peer group of artists whose work has developed in Edinburgh from grass roots over the past five years. Referring to the cliché of Edinburgh as Athens of the North, Young Athenians attempts to stress themes and styles prevalent in the work of artists currently working and living in Edinburgh.


There is a scene in Fellini’s Roma which portrays the young Fellini’s first night in Rome as a young man. He eats outside in a piazza, crammed into tables bustling with families, street entertainers, crying infants, quarrelling lovers, crowded trams, flirting waitresses, musicians. The volume gradually crescendos into a cacophony. The scene ends abruptly and next we are presented with the same set deserted at night. The silence is striking, interrupted only by the crackle of a tram line mechanic’s arc-welder. The welding illuminates the classical architecture surrounding the piazza. Stray dogs are picked out in silhouette and curb-crawlers are evident in the distance.


Like Edinburgh, our Young Athenians display this schizophrenic tendency between classical order and drunken revelry, daylight facades concealing backstreet mongers. Shattering the harmony of a room featuring Robin Scott’s busts interspersed by Orton’s plinths and paper pillars by Grace, is the background noise from Darius’s video in which a 4am Causewayside domestic has the entire street out of bed and Coleman & Hogarths’ boozy Toga Party. And how fitting for this collusion to take place within the bowels of the RSA; for it sits upon the Mound, that lumpish consequence of progress where old links new.


Utilising three of the RSA lower galleries the show will fall into 3 camps. In the first sit the council of Coulthard, Arsenault, MacLean, Munro, Grace and Stafford. This is the New Town: noble, decorous, their neo classical pastiche underpinned by symmetry. In the second camp lurk Spartans O’Connor & Mullen, Darius and the One O’clock Gun. Old Town and reeking, skullduggers plotting at last orders. Lastly, there are the mercenaries who, like most Edinburgh denizens, enjoy the spoils of both quarters: Tam A, Coleman & Hogarth, Orton, Rogers, Owens and Scott and Farquar. Call centre operators by day, rivalrous agitators by night.”


The Young Athenians, Edinburgh 2006


Tam A, Kim Coleman & Jenny Hogarth, Craig Coulthard, Tommy Grace, David Maclean, Ellen Munro, One O’clock Gun, Lee O’Connor & John Mullen, Katie Orton, Kate Owens, Robin Scott, Darius Jones, Catherine Stafford, Keith Farquar, Sophie Rogers