tue 25/06/2024

Hidden Door 10th Birthday Party, St James Quarter, Edinburgh review - going underground | reviews, news & interviews

Hidden Door 10th Birthday Party, St James Quarter, Edinburgh review - going underground

Hidden Door 10th Birthday Party, St James Quarter, Edinburgh review - going underground

Car park transformed into gallery/rave venue for multi-art celebration

Hidden Door's 10th Birthday PartyHidden Door

It’s hard to imagine that The Arches – a string of stylish glass-fronted units in prime city centre location, housing boutique bars, high-end eateries and stylish salons – were once a bunch of old storage units which were opened up a decade ago by a volunteer-run, grassroots arts festival calling itself Hidden Door.

Over the past 10 years Hidden Door has revitalised myriad disused spaces across the city including office blocks, a derelict cinema, a sealed-up theatre and an old gas works. So when the venue for their 10th birthday party was revealed as a car park in an upmarket shopping centre in the middle of town, it felt a little… odd. Did Hidden Door go corporate? Surely not!

Rest assured, the indie vibe is still strong, and the venue – the bottom car park of Edinburgh’s St James Quarter – was transformed into a vibrant multi-dimensional space full of nooks and crannies housing surprising and intriguing pieces of art. Some artwork created for previous festivals were redisplayed in this new venue, while other, larger scale pieces had been made especially for the event. One such was Silas Parry’s Ootheca for New Worlds, a bubbled mass of bright red plastics and other man-made materials named after the term for a conglomeration of insect eggs. Disconcertingly large, it almost seemed to ooze, the venue’s vastness giving the sculpture full room to breathe. Elsewhere, Dundee-based artis Zoe Gibson’s short film DAILY DANCE! played on a loop, depicting the sun and moon as quiet cohabitors in a rural cottage going about their daily rituals. Her storytelling is wonderfully imaginative, particularly in a sweet yet spooky scene where the sun wakes up the slumbering moon by meticulously painting on a pair of wide open eyes in red paint.Hidden Door May 2024Music-wise the weekend was DJ-based, with the feel of a club night obviously what the organisers were aiming for. Fair enough, it’s their birthday party! Plus, the acoustics of a live gig would probably prove very tricky in this particular space. Edinburgh-based duo Maranta, which comprises multi-disciplinary performers Callum Govan and Gloria Black, brought a slice of their immersive club night Microsteria each night, with sets from Jacuzzi General of Paradise Palms records and DJ Nikki Kent as dancers wove through the crowd. Other Scottish DJ talents featured across the weekend were 2019 Scottish Album of the Year award-winner Auntie Flo with his globally inspired grooves, Glasgow-based DJ and producer naafi, who brought her blend of ethereal electronica, and DJs Moray Leisure Centre and Eclair Fifi, who brought spiky, high octane tunes to the end of the party. 

While the weekend may not have displayed a cutting edge curation of new art, it was still a fabulous celebration of all that Hidden Door has achieved over the last decade. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for their full festival later in the year. 

@mirandaelizabethheggie

The venue was transformed into a vibrant multi-dimensional space full of nooks and crannies housing surprising and intriguing pieces of art

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