Migratory routes explored by artist Nadia Myre at 2022 Edinburgh Art Festival

Tell Me of Your Boats and Your Waters – Where Do They Come From, Where Do They Go?

A multi-sited project from Montreal-based First Nations artist Nadia Myre is one of three major commissions that will feature as part of the 2022 Edinburgh Art Festival, as it celebrates its 18th edition. Co-commissioned by Edinburgh Art Festival and Edinburgh Printmakers, the work takes inspiration from the 200th anniversary of the Union Canal and its migratory connections between Scotland and Canada.


Tell Me of Your Boats and Your Waters - Where Do They Come From, Where Do They Go?  will use print, installation, and sound to explore reference points spanning the two countries and migratory routes started on the canal. Taking in stargazing and tricksters, it will explore indigenous story-telling, and expand on the artist's archival research methods, considering pattern, prose and song.


As an Algonquin member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, Myre's work sited alongside the Union Canal near the Lochrin Basin and in Gallery 2 at Edinburgh Printmakers brings to the fore the decolonial impulse inherent in the artist's practice.


The artist's research began with the encounter of Tales Of Nanabozho in a local library in Montreal - a book published in 1964 by Scottish-born émigré Dorothy Marion Reid after moving to Canada, who recounts fictional stories of Nanabozho, a non-binary trickster character to the Anishinaabe peoples.


The book was published just four years after the Canadian government granted Indigenous people the right to vote. Around the same time, Canada also placed indigenous children and babies into the child welfare system, after the country shifted its policies from mandatory residential schools. Reid's book has a mixed legacy - although winning an award and becoming a work of value for the preservation of indigenous stories, it is coloured by the worldview of a European woman.  


Myre will start with these points of reference to play with the character of the Nanabozho - who is often in trouble as a way of mirroring how humans should behave in the world. She will explore what may be missing from Reid's tales through poems viewable across each exhibition site.


The artist also takes inspiration from the histories of Hopetoun warehouse, now the site of the Odeon cinema on Lothian Road. With land reclaimed by 1922 to make way for the Art Deco Lothian House which incorporated the original cinema, the site was previously known as Port Hopetoun basin, operating as a place for trade and travel.


As well as bringing building materials and fuel into Edinburgh city centre, people could start their journeys to the 'New World' on the 'Swifts' -passenger boats to Glasgow that linked up with trans-Atlantic routes to Canada.


The warehouse was used to separate passengers' belongings from dusty industrial materials, and Myre will depart, explore and reimagine these journeys through an installation of sack-like bags in Gallery 2 at Edinburgh Printmakers.


The commission takes place on the Union Canal by the Lochrin Basin, and at Edinburgh Printmakers, Gallery 2, from 28 July to 18 September. Entry is free.


The exhibition also runs alongside new work from artist Tessa Lynch in Houses Fit For People in Gallery 1. Entry is free.


Nadia Myre will also present a free, In Conversation event to discuss her project on Tue 2 August at 6.30pm in Edinburgh Printmakers. Tickets can be booked here.



11 Jul 2022
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