LeithLate is a visual arts organisation based in Leith, responsible for various public art projects such as The Shutter Project and The Mural Project, and the LeithLate festival. LeithLate originated as a one-night event that saw grassroots art spaces in Leith open their doors after 6pm to showcase their exhibitions, alongside live music, spoken word performances and film screenings across a number of local businesses in the space of the same evening. The success of the first event prompted LeithLate to become an annual festival, growing from one evening to two days in 2014, to a four day festival in 2016 and 2017. LeithLate is run by a freelance producer and overseen by a voluntary committee of local residents and artists.
For a flavour of LeithLate’s opening night art crawl, check out the video below:
The Public Poetry Project was launched during the run-up to the LeithLate16 festival in association with Edinburgh City of Literature and City Centre Posters. Six poems by contemporary poets about Edinburgh have been displayed on advertising sites around Leith, with specially designed surrounds by LeithLate designer David Lemm. The poets featured in the latest LeithLate public art initiative are: Rachel McCrum, Michael Pedersen, Harry Giles, Stewart Conn, Valerie Gillies and Christine De Luca. The poems were displayed for the month of June 2016. For the LeithLate17 festival, LeithLate teamed up with Edinburgh City of Literature once again for the Public Poetry Trail, a promenade tour of Leith, following Edinburgh Poetry Makar Christine De Luca‘s poem ‘Leith Swing’ in the form of pavement stencils around some of Leith’s historic buildings and heritage, designed by Bethany Thompson.
The Mural Project was launched in July 2013 with the first mural to be painted in Leith in almost two decades. The Leith Aquatic was painted by the artist collective Blameless on a derelict site at the bottom of Halmyre Street, and was produced in community consultation with some older residents of a local housing association. The resulting artwork included various Leith references, old and new, and was launched at a street party for the local residents. Participating artists included: Rabiya Choudhry, Fraser Gray, Martin McGuinness, Richie Cumming, DUFI and Fraser Douglas. The mural was funded by the Community Safety department of the City of Edinburgh Council, the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership, the Port of Leith Housing Association and Scotmid.
LeithLate’s second mural was on Leith Walk (on a site soon to be taken over by Origano) and was painted by international street artist Guido van Helten. The artwork referenced a Edinburgh Festival production of The Seven Deadly Sins from 1961 with Cleo Laine and Anya Linden as the two female leads. Although no longer in situte, another smaller mural by Guido installed during the same time period can still be viewed in the outside area of the Out of the Blue Drill Hall, depicting one of the last survivors of the Gretna Rail Disaster of 1915.
The third LeithLate mural was by Russell Dempster and a mixture of paste-up poster, paint and pastel on Henderson Street. The artwork was a portrait of one of the founders of British Pop Art who was also a little-known Leither, Eduardo Paolozzi. The artwork was funded and installed by City Centre Posters.
In 2015, LeithLate facilitated a number of mural artworks. The first in nearby Abbeyhill, can be read as a timeline of the local area and is located under Abbeyhill railway bridge. The artwork was a collaboration between artists Fraser Gray and FiST after a series of consultations with the residents of a local housing association and the project was funded and supported by The Student Housing Company, the City of Edinburgh Council and Viewpoint Housing Association.
One of LeithLate’s most recent Mural Project artworks was installed in 2016 on the corner of the Lovella shop on Leith Walk, by the artist Elph and supported by the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership.
LeithLate run regular Mural Tours in June each year since 2015, which take in a selection of Leith’s murals, old and new. Here is a copy of the latest mural tour from the LeithLate17 festival:
The Shutter Project was launched at the 2012 edition of the LeithLate festival with the project’s first shutter artwork by Jamie Johnson on Gamesmaster on Leith Walk. A further 9 artworks have been installed in Leith since then, with Fraser Gray on Word of Mouth, Bernie Reid on Fair Trade Coffee, Skint Richie on Origano, David Lemm on Paradigm Shift (now Trade Cut), Liana Moran on Inner (City) Sanctum, Omar Zingaro Bhatia on Cafe Nemrut, Fraser Douglas on Blue Tiger Tattoo, Erin McGrath on Elvis Shakespeare, Natasha Russell on The Sonic Lodge and Emer Tumilty on Spilt Milk on Great Junction Street. The Shutter Project links up contemporary artists and local businesses to create a bespoke work of art on the shutter, to be displayed outside opening hours. The Shutter Project is ongoing, and has been previously supported by the City of Edinburgh Council, the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership and Leith Decides.
The Leith Walkers Outdoor Exhibition was exhibited in June 2014 as part of the LeithLate14 festival. In collaboration with Leith Walkers, a photography project taking portraiture of people on Leith Walk. LeithLate produced posters and corex portraits which were displayed on advertising hoardings along Leith Walk, taking the images back onto the street where they were taken. The exhibition was funded and supported by the City of Edinburgh Council and City Centre Posters.
As part of the LeithLate15 opening exhibition, LeithLate facilitated a number of public art interventions around the Leith area including paste-ups on Union Street, a hand-painted mural on Dalmeny Street and a poster tower on Leith Walk. The artworks all referenced Kirsty Whiten‘s WRONGER RITES: The Quing of the Now Peoples exhibition, where dancers and groups of crazed costumed figures with animal heads converged in unison. Kirsty’s public art projects were funded and supported by Leith Neighbourhood Partnership, City Centre Posters and the City of Edinburgh Council.