The Fruitmarket announces new plans for reopening

Published: 22 Apr 2021

Gallery visualisation, courtesy Reiach & Hall Architects

Gallery visualisation, courtesy Reiach & Hall Architects

The Fruitmarket, Edinburgh, UK, have announced plans for summer 2021, when the gallery will reopen with its existing galleries refreshed and expanded into a large adjacent warehouse in a £4.3m capital development.

A major exhibition by one of Scotland’s most renowned sculptors - Glasgow-based Karla Black - will inaugurate the newly expanded Fruitmarket, which also makes room for a new cross cultural programme.

The development brings the gallery’s next door building – also a former fruit and vegetable warehouse – into active cultural use, as an expansive, inspirational space in and for which artists working across art forms can make and show new work. The new space will help the Fruitmarket realise its ambitions to deliver a year-round multi-art form programme.

Turner prize nominated artist Karla Black’s work will span both the exhibition galleries and the new warehouse space. The Fruitmarket curated Black’s solo presentation for Scotland in Venice at the 54th International Biennale in 2011 but has yet to work with her in Scotland. This exhibition is the result of an invitation to Black to play to her strengths and “force a raw creative moment” into the Fruitmarket’s pristine new gallery spaces.

The renovation and expansion offers Karla Black inspirational, materially resonant spaces in which to make and site her work. Inspired by the interplay of the new, double height warehouse with its raw brick and rough wood, and the refurbished conventionality of the exhibition galleries, she is working with the Fruitmarket to reimagine what a retrospective exhibition can be. A selection of sculpture made since 2000 will fill the ground floor galleries with standing, hanging and low-lying volumes and planes. They are constructed from and worked on with Black’s signature materials – cardboard, sugar paper, polystyrene, polythene, cellophane, sellotape, glass, mirror, net, vaseline, plaster powder, powder paint, medicines, cosmetics and thread.

These sculptures articulate and embody the freedom Black demands in and for her art. With their materials kept as near as possible in their raw state (plaster power and powder paint rather than these same materials mixed, set and dried), even though they were made in some cases quite long ago now, they are not relics of past practice but objects making meaning here and now.

These works will set the stage for two major new commissions, made by Karla Black in the upstairs gallery and the new warehouse space in the weeks before the exhibition opens. Creative freedom in action, these new works will embody the trust the Fruitmarket places in the artist and the artist places in her materials and her process.

The Fruitmarket’s redevelopment has been designed by Edinburgh-based Reiach and Hall Architects to ensure that the Fruitmarket can continue to operate at the forefront of contemporary culture for decades to come. Doubled in size, the new Fruitmarket will offer new opportunities for partnership working with other cultural organisations locally, nationally and internationally. The new warehouse space will lend itself to theatrical and musical performances, spoken word and dance events as much as it will to the presentation of visual art.

Fiona Bradley, the Fruitmarket's Director, said, “We are pleased to be able to share our opening dates. It’s been a long year of uncertainty and I would like to thank our team, partners, funders, artists and audiences for their support as we realigned our plans for 2021. In these challenging times we need to continue to give artists opportunities to make and to show their work and audiences the chance to experience it - we look forward to welcoming everyone later in the year.”

On opening the programme with Karla Black, Fiona added, “There is a defiant force to her work - it is demanding and disruptive as well as beautiful and inspiring. It is because of this that we invited her to be the first artist to work in the newly reopened Fruitmarket: we value artistic experiment and we want her to really challenge the new space. We look forward to sharing her insights with our audience.”

On the new building, Neil Gillespie, Director, Reiach & Hall Architects, commented, “The original galleries are seen as a series of white spaces, abstract and precise. Surfaces are smooth and continuous while detail and material expression are suppressed. The palette in the warehouse, by contrast, is dark and sensual. It is a space that relishes the directness and crudeness of the existing steel frame, the strength and texture of the brick walls and the industrial timber floor. The mood is intense, almost visceral. As an ensemble they offer the artist, curator and their audience remarkable contrasting and complementary spaces for art and performance.”

Amanda Catto, Head of Visual Arts and Creative Scotland said, “Beginning with an unmissable exhibition of work by Karla Black, the expanded, transformed Fruitmarket will be at the heart of Edinburgh's year-round cultural scene, with new spaces and new opportunities to present the very best in Scottish and international contemporary art. This redevelopment, supported with National Lottery funding through Creative Scotland, marks an exciting new chapter for the Fruitmarket, the artists that it supports and the many visitors that it welcomes throughout the year”

Publishing is a central part of the Fruitmarket’s mission to create opportunities and inspiration for artists and audiences. A new publication will mark Karla Black’s work in the new Fruitmarket, with images of the work in the spaces and essays by former Director of Curatorial Affairs/Senior Curator at the Des Moines Art Center Alison Ferris, who initiated Black’s exhibition there in early 2020; and Fruitmarket Director and curator of the Fruitmarket’s exhibition Fiona Bradley.

A new text by Karla Black also sets out her hopes for her art. As she says: “I’m trying to use my materials to keep hold of what I think art really is – that raw, animal creative moment".

2.Karla Black Installation View Palazzo Pisani 2011, Courtesy the artist and Galerie Gisela Capitain Cologne

Karla Black Installation View Palazzo Pisani 2011, Courtesy the artist and Galerie Gisela Capitain Cologne. Photograph Gautier Deblonde


Listings Information:

  • Karla Black: Sculptures (2001 to 2021)
  • Location: The Fruitmarket, Market St, Edinburgh, EH1 1DF
  • Dates: 7 July 2021 to 21 November 2021
  • Opening Hours: 10am to 6pm, 7 days a week
  • Free but ticketed. Book at from mid June 2021

The Fruitmarket is one of the most popular galleries in Scotland, with a sustained record of audience growth: our audiences have risen from 41,224 in 1994 to nearly 200,000 in 2018. The Fruitmarket has an international reputation as a successful public organisation. It is committed to providing exciting opportunities and a supportive environment for artists; to creating free, welcoming, inspiring and accessible social spaces for people; and to growing and diversifying the audience for contemporary art and culture.

Since opening in 1974, the Fruitmarket has shown a wide range of artists, championing Scottish and international artists including Marina Abramovic, Jean Michel Basquiat, Claire Barclay, Phyllida Barlow, Louise Bourgeois, John Cage, Jacqueline Donachie, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Ellen Gallagher, Cai Guo-Qiang, Eva Hesse, David Hockney, Callum Innes, Jim Lambie, Gabriel Orozco, Shirin Neshat, and Mark Wallinger. During 2020, the Fruitmarket continued to innovate, offering Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s specially commissioned Nightwalk for Edinburgh as a naturally socially distanced outdoor digital experience as gallery doors remained closed.

Reiach and Hall Architects were formed in 1965 and are one of Scotland’s leading design practices. They are one of only three practices in the UK to have been shortlisted for the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize three years in a row (2015, 2016, 2017). The practice has a portfolio of work across the UK and further afield, in a variety of sectors; from education, health, sport, offices, commercial, masterplanning, and refurbishment to arts and residential. This work ranges in scale from a Maggie’s Centre to major urban interventions.

Karla Black lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has been shown in major museum and commercial gallery exhibitions in the UK and abroad. She is represented by Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and Modern Art, London, and her work is held in museum collections including Tate, London; migros museum für gegenwartskunst Zürich; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and Arts Council Collection, England. In 2011 she represented Scotland at the 54th Biennale in Venice and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize during the same year.

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and The National Lottery. Further information at Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Media Contacts

For further information, images or interview requests please contact:

Nicola Jeffs / 07794 694 754
Owen O’Leary / 07815 992 658