The Edinburgh Art Festival kicked off its month long programme on Thursday night with the flaming completion of David Mach’s sculpture The Devil. A crowd gathered in the Edinburgh College of Art to watch as lit cigarettes were held up to the matchsticks that make up the devil’s head. When the flames were extinguished, the formerly red and yellow grinning face had turned an ashen monochrome.
Mach, a popular contemporary Scottish artist and 1988 Turner Prize nominee, is best known for his outdoor sculpture Big Heids, which can be seen from the M8 between Edinburgh and Glasgow. This year the Art Festival is hosting the largest yet solo exhibition of Mach’s work in the City Art Centre on Market Street.
Precious Light: King James Bible 1611-2011 is a celebration of the anniversary of the most influential English translation of the Christian holy book. Covering five floors the exhibition includes over 40 collages illustrating – in unexpected and powerful ways – famous biblical scenes, an impressive crucifix made of coat hangers, and a space dedicated to the history and language of the text that inspired the artworks. The burnt devil is on display on the first floor, alongside its as yet untouched sister sculpture, Jesus Christ; both are made of thousands of matchsticks and took months to create.
On the third floor Mach himself is working; the space has been transformed into a studio where the artist and his assistants are completing the final collage of the series. Visitors are free to wander and watch the artist at work; remember to upgrade your ticket at the ground floor desk to come back in a few weeks and see the finished work.
The Edinburgh Art Festival runs from the 4th August – 4th September at venues across the city.