Edinburgh International Book Festival Themes: On Influence - The Art that Shapes Us

In this series, we take a close look at the art and artists who have been a source of inspiration to others. From musicians and painters to writers and poets.

Edinburgh International Book Festival Themes: On Influence - The Art that Shapes Us

About Edinburgh International Book Festival Themes: On Influence - The Art that Shapes Us

In this series, we take a close look at the art and artists who have been a source of inspiration to others. From musicians and painters to writers and poets: what is it that makes some people – and pieces – connect so deeply with us? And how do the stories of artists and their work influence the creative output of their devoted fans? We hear from authors moved and motivated by the legacy of another, and reflect on the role art, music or literature can play in shaping who we are and what we go on to do.

Helena Attlee with Lev Atlas & Greg Lawson: Fiddler on the Don
Monday 16 August 11:30 - 12:30
We are delighted to reunite Attlee with the men who began her story: Greg Lawson teaches at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, while Lev Atlas is principal viola with the Scottish Opera Orchestra. Today they share the sounds and stories of Lev’s violin in a special event featuring music and discussion, chaired by Allan Little.

Caleb Azumah Nelson: Diving into Black Culture
Monday 16 August 13:00 - 14:00
Every so often, a novel arrives that perfectly captures the feeling of a time: of summer, of political turmoil, youth, the tentativeness of falling in love. Open Water is one such book, the debut novel from Caleb Azumah Nelson, a writer and photographer. Join Nelson as part of our special series On Influence, as he discusses his work and the artists who inspire him.

Edmund de Waal: Objects of Desire
Thursday 19 August 19:00 - 20:00
Captioned
There’s a house on the Rue de Monceau in Paris that’s home to a museum of lavish art and objects, all collected in the name of young Count Nissim de Camondo. This belle epoque treasure is a few doors down from the home of Edmund de Waal’s ancestors, whose collection of carved ivory figures he wrote about in his memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes. In this event, De Waal explains his deep fascination with the objects in the museum – and why they also reveal much about his own personal and cultural history.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa: A Ghost in the Throat
Sunday 22 August 19:00 - 20:00
In this book, a literary hybrid encompassing elements of biography, autofiction, and scholarship, Ní Ghríofa brings the voice of Eibhlín Dubh back to life in a manner that is frank about her own everyday existence, including the ebbs and flows of desire, and the humdrum routines of motherhood. She joins us in Edinburgh to present sections from a live reading with accompanying visuals by filmmaker Tadhg O’Sullivan and a soundscape by composer Linda Buckley, created with the Midsummer Festival in Cork. The event is chaired by freelance producer, and director of Push the Boat Out poetry festival Jenny Niven.

Alison Watt with Andrew O’Hagan: The Joy of Influence
Tuesday 24 August 11:30 - 12:30
Alison Watt is one of Scotland’s best-known living artists, renowned for her paintings of human figures and more recently for her intimate depictions of the folds in fabrics and draperies and now she has produced an exhibition for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery featuring paintings made in response to the art and practice of 18th century Scottish artist Allan Ramsay. In the catalogue for the show, novelist Andrew O’Hagan has written a story, Affinity, which acts as a fascinating companion piece to Watt’s work. Today Watt and O’Hagan share the Edinburgh stage to discuss the joy of influence.

Craig Brown: The Slippery Art of Biography
Tuesday 24 August 13:15 - 14:15
In today’s event Brown discusses his penetrating, surprising, often hilarious views on biography with the Guardian's associate editor for culture Claire Armitstead. He also reads a section from his essay, which will be reproduced in full in a free printed booklet that is available to everyone who purchases Brown’s book on the Fab Four in the Book Festival bookshop - note: there are limited copies and the booklet is available while stocks last.

Max Porter: Pen Portraits
Tuesday 24 August 19:00 - 20:00
Porter has turned his attention to the last days of a famous British painter. The Death of Francis Bacon – somewhere between fiction and prose-poem – seeks not only to evoke the artist’s thoughts, but also to ‘write’ his paintings. It’s certainly not a biography of Bacon, but perhaps in imagining its way into the painter’s mind it tells as much about his art as a catalogue raisonné would. Today he discusses the joy of the artist’s influence on his own work.

Ali Smith: Art in a Time of Lies
Thursday 26 August 17:30 - 18:30
BSL Interpreted, Captioned
The highly-respected Scottish novelist has teamed up with artist Sarah Wood to create a new short film made uniquely for Edinburgh. Art in a Time of Lies, directed and edited by Wood; written and narrated by Smith, will be shown today only and will not be available on-demand after the live event. After the screening, Smith talks about her writing and some of the artists who have inspired her with Festival director Nick Barley.

Jackie Kay: My Libidinous, Raunchy, Fearless Blueswoman
Thursday 26 August 20:30 - 21:30
Captioned
Jackie Kay joins us to discuss her extraordinary book, Bessie Smith. It is as much a quest for emotional truth as for biographical fact, mixing poetry and prose, historical record and fiction. At times Kay enjoys imagining what the singer might have thought, or speculates about the contents of the trunk in which she kept her most beloved possessions. It all adds up to a towering monument to one of the 20th century’s most influential singers. Kay explains her unusual approach, while acclaimed jazz and blues vocalist Suzanne Bonnar sings some of Bessie Smith’s best-loved songs. This event is chaired by artist, feminist and co-founder of the Glasgow Women's Library Adele Patrick. 

Matt Haig: Reasons to Feel Okay
Friday 27 August 14:30 - 15:30
BSL Interpreted, Captioned
Haig returns to non-fiction again with the launch of The Comfort Book. Conceived as a ‘kind of companion book’ to The Midnight Library, it is a collection of things Haig has written down to comfort himself at difficult moments. Drawing on maxims, memoir and the inspirational lives of others, these meditations celebrate the wonder of living – and all presented with Haig’s trademark kindness and generosity. As Jeanette Winterson so aptly said: ‘Haig uses words like a tin-opener. We are the tin.’ Join him today to be enjoyably opened up by his writing.

Tracey Thorn: Music, Memories, and the Blue Moon Rose
Friday 27 August 17:30 - 18:30
In her latest book, My Rock 'n' Roll Friend, Thorn pays tribute to a 40-year friendship with Lindy Morrison, drummer in the Australian art-rock band The Go Betweens. Ten years her senior and much more outgoing, Morrison did not initially strike Thorn as a potential friend, but the book charts their increasing realisation that they were both women in a pop world dominated by men. It is a friendship which would eventually lead to Thorn writing a song about Morrison called ‘Blue Moon Rose’. As well as a portrait of a brilliant musician, Thorn paints a picture of sexism and hypocrisy in the music industry. Today, Thorn discusses her affectionate memoir and the misogynistic conditions in which the friendship thrived.

Charlotte Higgins: Why Greek Myths Still Matter
Sunday 29 August 13:00 - 14:00
Her most ambitious work to date, Greek Myths: A New Retelling, features drawings by Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili. Here she recounts well-known Greek myths as if they were actual scenes being woven into textiles, by women who feature prominently in them. Athena and Andromache, Philomena and Penelope all appear, with each tale offering a fantastical, ripping yarn full of powerful witches and unpredictable gods. These stories retain their power centuries after their first telling because they excavate the very essence and extremes of human experience. Today she discusses her landmark project.

Can Artists Still Break the Rules? Revisiting Strategy: Get Arts
Monday 30 August 11:30 - 12:30
In August 1970, Richard Demarco collaborated with the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf to stage Strategy: Get Arts, an exhibition at the Edinburgh College of Art. It featured works by Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke and other now-canonical artists from post-war Germany. This was the first major presentation of contemporary German art in Britain since 1938. Today's discussion, in partnership with the Edinburgh College of Art, looks at the enduring significance of this landmark exhibition, and a new publication, Strategy: Get Arts – 35 Artists Who Broke the Rules, edited by Christian Weikop.

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