City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Festival of Ian Smith: A Celebration of Death


By Irene Brown - Posted on 18 September 2016

This Autumn, Mischief La-Bas and Summerhall present a new festival with the theme of what ultimately affects us all – death. Supported by Luminate, SMHAFF, The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care and Final Fling and funded by Creative Scotland, this latest of Edinburgh’s long list of festivals follows the Southside arts venue’s award-winning 2016 Fringe and opens over Hallowe’en and Mexico’s Day of the Dead.

Ian Smith, who gives his name to the Festival, was co-founder and Artistic Director of Mischief La-Bas whose company co-founder Angie Dight says, “My own personal journey with death began in 2014 when, after a severe battle with depression, my husband Ian Smith took his own life. The illness had reduced him to a shadow of his former self; after his death, beginning with the funeral, we were able to restore him in our memories, back to his full glory.

“Our Festival celebrates death, loved ones, art and life in the hope that it will encourage discussion, interaction and challenge any fears we may have about being open about death”

The festival will include live music as part of Nothing Ever Happens Here…, visual arts exhibitions and new theatre being shown for the first time at the festival alongside returning work. Ugly Chief, a new work in development from performance artist Victoria Melody, explores the British funeral industry and tells the story of Victoria planning her father’s funeral and for two performances only Pauline Goldsmith resurrects Bright Colours Only the world-touring show that recreates an Irish Wake. F.M.I.N.’s new work, Privates, that was first conceived at The Arches, is a one-on-one performance that celebrates the profound impact other people have on our lives. Another one-on-one piece is Andrew Tibbles’ Immortal, that creates an opportunity to say what you’d like to be heard when you can no longer say it. All of the contributions to Immortal created during this performance will feed into a cacophonous echo like art-work which will be exhibited for the rest of the festival.

Exhibitions at the Festival include a replica of Ian Smith’s studio as well as documentation and archival film footage that include performance, music and TV work. Glasgow painter Graeme Wilcox will exhibit work that includes collaborations with Ian and Mischief La-Bas. Attendees will be invited to leave their own tributes to loved ones passed.

The Visual arts programme also includes photography from Colin Gray’s It Takes a Village that looks into the amount of support required when people’s health deteriorates, and Ross Fraser McLean’s photographic exploration of how culture processes death uses Mexico’s relationship with death and dying as a vibrant and celebratory starting point.

Festival exhibitions run for a month from the opening weekend 28 October with an opening Day of the Dead Party on Friday 28 when Final Fling will open the Death Café with a chance to craft an Ofrenda, a shrine or offering derived from Mexican tradition.

28 October – 27 November 2016