Edinburgh's Fruitmarket Gallery to transform nightclub into new art venue

Karla Black survey will fill both spaces, including former fruit and veg warehouse next door

Fruitmarket Gallery's new space is due to open next summer Courtesy of Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh

The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, one of Scotland’s most important contemporary art venues, is due to launch its new space next summer with a survey of works by the Glasgow-based sculptor Karla Black.

The gallery, closed since August, is expanding into the former fruit and vegetable warehouse, located next door to its current venue on Market Street, as part of a £3.6m capital development. Funders of the refurbishment include the governmental body Creative Scotland, which contributed £1.4m.

We knew the minute we went upstairs that we should take it on. It was untouched and had an incredible material resonance Fiona Bradley, director of the Fruitmarket Gallery

The new adjacent Fruitmarket space was more recently a nightclub. “The owner of the club gave us the chance to take over the lease. We knew the minute we went upstairs that we should take it on. It was untouched and had an incredible material resonance; there were still fruit and veg hoists in the roof,” says Fiona Bradley, the director of the Fruitmarket Gallery. “We decided to knock the floor out, giving us a double-height space retaining the feel of the old warehouse.”

Visualisation of the new Fruitmarket building on Market Street Courtesy of Reiach and Hall Architects

The second expansive space will house new commissions. Black will present new work alongside existing sculptures across both galleries. “We’ll be showing a selected survey of works by Black, and two new works she is making in and for our spaces. Looking back to go forward,” Bradley says.

“[The artist] will play with the height of the new warehouse space, hanging painted and powdered cellophane off the beams and coating the floor with reflective Vaseline to bounce light around the space,” a gallery statement says. Black will spread a carpet of coloured powder across the floor of the existing upper gallery; previous works, comprising “a group of standing and hanging volumes and planes”, will contextualise the newer pieces.

An installation view of Karla Black's Scotland + Venice commission at the Palazzo Pisani in Venice (2011), organised by the Fruitmarket Gallery Courtesy the artist and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne Photograph Gautier Deblonde

The new space will also be used for other events. “We’re keen to show spoken word and dance events, as well as theatre and live music. There is so much creativity here crying out for a space; we’d love it to be a real hub,” Bradley says. More than 50% of the gallery’s audience is under 30, while 66% is aged under 40 (crucially, the audience doubles during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August).