Assembly Rooms & Music Hall, George Street. Original design by John Henderson, completed 1787. Portico added by William Burn 1817-18

Assembly Rooms & Music Hall, George Street. Original design by John Henderson, completed 1787. Portico added by William Burn 1817-18

 

“CLASSICAL EDINBURGH” EXHIBITION*

This photographic exhibition, to show in Edinburgh City Art Centre from November 9th 2019 to March 8th 2020, will be:

  • a celebration of Edinburgh’s New Town

  • an appreciation of the significance of A J Youngson’s seminal book “The Making of Classical Edinburgh”

  • a homage to Edwin Smith’s photography

  • and a fresh look at the New Town today through new photographs.

In 1966, Edinburgh University Press published “The Making of Classical Edinburgh” by A J Youngson, then Professor of Political Economy at the University. The book was illustrated with beautiful black and white photographs by Edwin Smith (1912-71). A new version of the book is being published.

Youngson’s book was critical in explaining and underlining the significance of Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town which at the time was under-appreciated, neglected and in a poor state of repair. The book was followed by an exhibition in Waverley Market in 1967 called “200 Summers in the City” and by the Scottish Civic Trust’s 1970 conference in the Assembly Rooms called “The Conservation of Georgian Edinburgh”. This in turn led to the formation of Edinburgh New Town Conservation Committee, now Edinburgh World Heritage.

Edwin Smith (1912-71) was arguably the best architectural photographer of his time - John Betjeman described him as “a genius at photography”. His evocative black and white photographs became the defining images of the city’s classical architecture, and we will have a selection of Smith’s original prints on display (courtesy of Edinburgh University Press), contrasted with contemporary images by architectural photographer Colin McLean. Colin has also written a new foreword to the book, explaining the significance played by Youngson’s text - and Smith’s images - in the subsequent conservation of the New Town. This brings a fresh perspective to the extraordinary story of one of Europe’s greatest conservation projects. The very substantial archive of Edwin Smith’s photographs is held by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The exhibition will be in Edinburgh City Art Centre (CAC) and will open to the public on November 9th 2019, running till March 8th 2020. We are grateful to the City of Edinburgh Council and to the CAC staff for their encouragement and support.

The Trust is working with David Campbell of Campbell & Co, exhibition designers

“Classical Edinburgh” is the exhibition’s current working title