Lux Europae Edinburgh 1992

Thorbjørn Lausten Crags Projections 1992
Thorbjørn Lausten Crags Projections 1992

Lux Europae was an international arts festival and a celebration of light. The festival marked the occasion of the summit held in Edinburgh, December 1992, for European leaders from the twelve European member states that made up the EC at the time.

Ian Hamilton Finlay European Heads 1992, installation
Ian Hamilton Finlay European Heads 1992, installation
Ian Hamilton Finlay European Heads 1992, close-up
Ian Hamilton Finlay European Heads 1992, close-up

Aware that such a visible opportunity for cultural activity at government level was a rarity, even within the context of the European Community, Isabel relished the moment that she was appointed Exhibition Director for the festival in 1991. Her appointment immediately followed twelve-months cover at Arts Council of Great Britain as Senior Arts Officer.

The original idea for the festival being placed on an international footing was formed by the European Community Cultural Co-operation Committee, known as EC4, based in Edinburgh. Its aim was to encourage cultural representatives of EC member states to foster cultural initiatives with grass roots communities in Scotland.

The idea that the festival theme should be about light came from the desire to herald the summit using a universal metaphor of affirmation, to launch successful discussion among representatives of the twelve nations. The positive note light brings to any occasion is manifest in the tradition of winter festivals in northern Europe and Asia like St Martin’s Day (Armistice Day) and Diwali that occur in November to raise the spirits during the long dark winter nights.

It was also felt that Edinburgh was a suitable setting for widespread illumination. The city is topographically dramatic with different neighbourhoods built on levels that ensure their own identity, as well as ensuring an overall cinematic quality, with several strategic viewpoints across its axis. Many of the key buildings are particularly well-lit, providing a coherent and appropriately dark velvety backdrop for art installations using light.

Maurizio Nannucci Let's Talk About Art...Maybe 1992
Maurizio Nannucci Let's Talk About Art...Maybe 1992

The budget of 800,000 GBP was raised by Art Project Management (Art Office’s initial incarnation) to be devoted to commissioning 35 light-based art works and installations by European artists located throughout central Edinburgh. While the scope of the exhibition was international, it was decided at an early point, before the selection of artists began in earnest, that there should be a strong presentation of Scottish artists.

Louise Scullion Vending Machines for Lux Europae 1992
Louise Scullion Vending Machines for Lux Europae 1992 (containing candles)

Through the portal of cultural exchange artists are among the most mobile people on the planet. Selection of the thirty-five artists was made based upon where each artist was located, as well as the strength of their individual proposals. Several of the artists selected were born in countries different from where they were resident, a few pursued aspects of their work through transgressing national borders.

‘Over thirty artists from the member countries of the Community have worked together within the city to create a common manifestation in which their separate identities will hardly be apparent. Presented thus, art is not something apart, but a way of articulating what is shared.’

Dr Duncan Macmillan, Lux Europae Trustee and Curator at Talbot Rice Gallery Edinburgh

The festival was conceived on the basis that there would be a comprehensive education, outreach and events programme. Lothian Regional Council stepped in early on to fund the education programme with support from national art institutions, community groups, and art education bodies that would deliver workshops, a teacher’s pack and lecture series. Its aim was to leave a legacy beyond the occasion of the summit that could be seen as pan-European in nature.

The festival featured installations by the following artists. Many had been working internationally, so their names were presented along side their home city or location where each based their production:

Petros Bazos, Athens Greece
Gerard Byrne, Dublin Ireland
Nathan Coley, Glasgow Scotland
Viera Collaro, Copenhagen Denmark
Patrick Corillon, Liége Belgium
Louise Crawford, Glasgow Scotland
Bill Culbert, London England
Matthew Dalziel, Fraserburgh Scotland
Ian Hamilton Finlay, Dunsyre Scotland
Stéphan Guéneau, Paris France
Ron Haselden, London England
Amanda Hogg, London England
Kenneth Hunter, Glasgow Scotland
Stephen Hurrel, Glasgow Scotland
Cristina Iglesias, Madrid Spain
Andrew Kearney, London England
Mischa Kuball, Düsseldorf Germany
Thørbjørn Lausten, Copenhagen Denmark
Vittorio Messina, Florence Italy
Elsie Mitchell, Glasgow Scotland
Juan Luis Moraza, Bilbao Spain
Leonel Moura, Lisbon Portugal
Maurizio Nannucci, Florence Italy
Martine Neddam, Amsterdam Netherlands
Giorgos Nicholaides, Athens Greece
Titus Nolte, Utrecht Netherlands
Bernhard Prinz, Hamburg Germany
Gerard Scanlan, Nijmegen Netherlands
Louise Scullion, Dundee Scotland
Nicola von Skepsgardh, Hamburg Germany
Slide Workshop, Mary Walters, Kate Downie  Glasgow Scotland
Michel Verjux, Paris France
Adrian Wiszniewski, Glasgow Scotland
George Wyllie, Glasgow Scotland

The festival was funded and sponsored by:

Arts Council of Great Britain
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Kaleidoscope Fund
The Henry Moore Foundation
Scottish Arts Council
Visiting Arts, British Council
The Arts Foundation
Bank of Scotland
Beck’s
British Rail Community Unit
British Rail European Passenger Service
David Narro Associates
Dawson International Plc
Hydro-Electric
Marks and Spencer Plc
MKW
Northern Light
Royal Mail
Scottish and Newcastle Breweries
Scottish Power
Lux Europae, Edinburgh
The accompanying publication was Lux Europae.
Click here for details
Photography by: Reuben Kench and Chris Wainwright