Textile Art Work Says Thanks for Support to Capital Theatres

A new installation has been created by emerging Edinburgh based artist Sophie Fields to express gratitude to everyone who has supported Capital Theatres over the past few months. Her textile-based work named Hanging by a Million Threads, is formed of millions of individual threads woven together to give it a tensile form that’s strong enough to hold the hundreds of comments posted on the Capital Theatres ‘Theatre Emergency Support Fund’ crowdfunding page, and commissioned by Capital Theatres with the support of the Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund in an open competition.

The work serves as a metaphor for the state Capital Theatres found itself in thanks to the pandemic – hanging by a thread. Thanks to donations made through the Crowdfunder; patrons; money received from the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, as well as the extension of furlough, they can face the future with a bit more confidence.

The glass panes of Festival theatre’s façade will be hung with 20 individual, digitally printed curtains, each made up of stripes of colours to match the Capital Theatres branding of blue, pink, purple and orange. The cloths will feature some of the beautiful messages, thoughts and memories from the hundreds shared by the public during Capital Theatres’ Crowdfunder campaign. Other messages not used in Sophie’s work from the 525 submitted will be displayed on the digital screens on the ground floor, so passers-by can read them.

Sophie Fields, who is a graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, worked as a member of Front of House staff at Capital Theatres before the pandemic and is a resident artist at George Watson’s College. She won the competition for freelance artists from a 60 strong entrance field and a short list of 5 that was judged by Fiona Gibson (Chief Executive, Capital Theatres), Brian Loudon (Head of Operations, Capital Theatres), Jim Cursiter (Fine Artist), Graham Raith (Head of Electrics, Capital Theatres), Catrin Sheridan (Learning and Participation Coordinator, Capital Theatres), and Fatos Ustek (artist and former director of Liverpool Biennial).

Sophie said “I was really inspired by the messages the public shared during the Crowdfunder and wanted to find a way to incorporate that in my response to the commission. The idea of having draped textile pieces filling the front of the Festival Theatre came from the new series of activity created by Capital Theatres ‘Raise the Curtain’ which continues aspects of their community engagement work whilst the theatres are closed, together with the idea of real stage curtains opening up again in the spring. Having the curtains pulled back slightly is a symbol of hope that the theatre still exists and events will hopefully be running as normal inside soon.”

Hanging by a Million Threads will transform the Festival Theatre’s frontage until the end of January. Following which, in line with the theatre’s commitment to environmental sustainability, the intention is to transform the work itself into pouches, tote bags and pencil cases for sale in collaboration with Leith based circular business Kalopsia.

Irene Brown

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