Founded in 2004, Edinburgh Art Festival is Scotland’s largest annual celebration of visual art. Attracting over 250,000 visits each year, the Festival brings together galleries, museums and artist-run spaces, alongside public art commissions and an innovative programme of special events. During July and August, Central Station is going to publish a series of blogs taking a closer look at what’s happening this year.


The Debtor's Day Off

Artists Tom Nolan and Catherine Payton are this year’s Edinburgh Art Festival Tourists in Residence, offering visitors to Edinburgh the unique perspective of artists based in the city. This collaboration takes the shape of several tours written by the artists. Our Tourists in Residence have also created their own map featuring selected monuments in Edinburgh – both real and imaginary – which can be used for self-guided tours.

The Debtor’s Day Off

Collectively embodying the famous opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, the group will depart from Holyrood Palace, which was formerly designated a debtors’ sanctuary, one in which De Quincey took refuge from the bailiffs on several occasions. Leaving the sanctuary on a Sunday (the day when historically no arrests were permitted in the city) the walk will follow the length of the Royal Mile before ending at De Quincey’s grave in St Cuthbert’s Kirkyard at the west end of Princes Street. The walk, one regularly taken by both Catherine and Tom, will take in many of Edinburgh’s most famous sites but we can expect attention to be drawn to some of the more obscure reference points which will serve as departure points for an associative narrative reflecting some of Edinburgh’s public histories as well as references more particular to our Tourists’ private histories and with frequent reference to De Quincey, the protagonist of our walk.

This tour will take place on Sunday 1 September.

Other tours include A symposium (with free tea and coffee) – held at IKEA after the 8 mile stroll there – and A dissociative walk which explores Edinburgh’s split personality.

Selected Monuments of Edinburgh

A guide and aid to the self-declared, subjective monuments of the city. These spaces form departure points, portals: they are thin places, open to fluctuation in meaning and purpose. They are radically open to mis-, re- and un- interpretation.

-    Tom Nolan & Catherine Payton

This aid will be available at the EAF Kiosk on George Street and can also be downloaded here.


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