Artist David Martin’s live art project on Edinburgh’s heritage 42 St Andrew Square

One of Scotland’s leading contemporary artists, David Martin, will create a large scale painting on the steps of one of Edinburgh’s iconic heritage buildings.

To coincide with this year’s festival season, David will paint a 7 x 3.5m mural on to hoardings at the entrance to 42 St Andrew Square. Situated at the gateway to The Registers, a regeneration project planned for the south east corner of Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square, the painting will evolve live and in situ, whatever the weather and in full view of residents, commuters and visitors.

Once complete, it will be installed in the dramatic double height glass lobby of the new office building planned as part of the regeneration of the area that aims to revitalise and pedestrianise part of West Register Street. Here, it will be permanently on public display.

Commissioned by the Chris Stewart Group (CSG), it is intended that this will be the first in an ongoing series of art installations in The Registers.

David, who was given his first major solo exhibition in the Royal Scottish Academy in 2007, is the founder and creative director of the Hidden Door arts festival, which turns abandoned or hidden places in Edinburgh into temporary arts venues. The Registers commission is the first live art project of its kind and for this David intends to paint a single standing figure, surrounded by the grand space of the building, referencing the stairwell and main hall of the beautiful, historic interiors, as they dissolve and transform into a different, more evocative and timeless space.

The project gets underway on Thursday 23 July 2015 and will last approximately three weeks. The painting will remain in place until the autumn to coincide with David’s next exhibition at the Open Eye Gallery in early November.

Commenting on the project, David said:

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to create such a large scale painting at so prominent a site in the city centre. It will be a really interesting few weeks to see how the work progresses and to gauge the public’s reaction – to the painting itself, but also to the fact that I’m going to be there from morning till evening creating the piece in situ. 

“I’m not approaching it like a graffiti artist, or mural artist, but just as I would my normal paintings on canvas, and so it will go through stages of evolution – and may look quite strange for a while as I build the layers up with colour and collage material, such as old maps which create the surface interest of the painting.

“I don’t think Edinburgh has ever really seen this approach to live painting in public before – not on this scale, anyway. 

“I have a real sense of how the painting is going to look, taking inspiration from the amazing atrium and banking hall inside the building – but even I don’t know exactly how it’s going to turn out. It will have to take on a life of its own through the process of painting for it to be any good! It is exciting to think of it having a home inside this fantastic new building once CSG has completed its planned regeneration of The Registers.”

Chris Stewart, CEO of the Chris Stewart Group, comments on the commission of the art installation:

“We always look to add another dimension to our projects and The Registers is no different; once completed, it will be a bright, vibrant and lively area in the centre of Edinburgh. In the meantime and while we progress through the planning process, we hope to add some colour and intrigue to the area.

“By inviting David to create a contemporary piece of art on the steps of 42 St Andrew Square, we intend for the area around West Register Street and Register Place to be recognised for its art installations as well as becoming a thriving commercial and leisure destination. It is hoped that with the planned regeneration, we will be able to showcase different artists’ works throughout the public realm for all to view and enjoy.”

  Chris added:

“I am looking forward to David getting started on site – we’ve been discussing this project for a number of months now and I’m intrigued see the finished piece. It will be fascinating to watch it evolve day by day over the next few weeks.”